As the world celebrates Chinese New Year, we thought it was an appropriate time to look at horse riding breaks and top equine holiday ideas on offer across England.
How do you like the idea of waking up every morning to the sight of your horse (if you have one of course!) grazing outside against the rural backdrop of the Peak District with Hoe Grange Holidays.
As part of the British Horse Society’s ‘Horses Welcome Scheme’, these breaks provide stone built stables on-site and ensuring that all needs – of both rider and steed – are met, including emergency access to local vets, grazing paddocks, hayracks and feed upon request. If your premium pony deserves only the very best, The Old Tack Room in Dorset offers a private retreat, where mare and rider can share the same bolthole. This refurbished property adjoins the owner’s ‘house’ to the horse’s ‘room’. Set in a location awarded with AONB status, the cottage has stunning views of Bulbarrow Hill, Dorset’s highest point.
For those looking for a little more luxury in their livery, Lucknam Park’s Equestrian Centre reckons it matches the standards of comfort that are synonymous to the hotel.There are hotels for everything these days, just take a look at our recent post about Britain’s Best Dog Friendly Hotels.
But listen, we know that not all of us have a horse, so if you don’t Lucknam Park is one of the many excellent riding hotels in England. With trained horses and staff on hand to help beginners and assist experienced riders, Lucknam Park’s Equestrian Centre offers classes to cater for every level. For your time out of the saddle, the property also has a highly prestigious cookery school and a first class spa.
Coworth Park is a riding hotel situated in Ascot that fully embraces its polo and horse racing heritage. Not only can you take up lessons from professionals but from April to September, the social season here comes into full swing, with polo practitioners galloping about, performing on field.
You can experience what is sometimes referred to as England’s last remaining wilderness by tracking free-roaming ponies in Dartmoor. Watch on as new born foals find their feet on blue-bell clad moors- though be careful to keep your distance as these horses remain untamed, so no ‘foal-‘ play allowed (sorry, terrible joke).
Used as the backdrop for the award-winning film War Horse, Dartmoor is a lovely spot for an equine break. Here, fans can find their own Joey, either by catching the stage adaptation as it tours around the country or by booking in a ‘Dartmoor Experience’ at Gildleigh Park. The house is offering guests an opportunity to visit the film’s locations and of course try a riding experience on the Dartmoor ponies.
Further north, you’ll find many chestnut-coloured beauties in the New Forest. Although not technically wild, these are magnificent creatures that allow a closer viewing than the kind in Dartmoor. Saddle up one of their tamer cousins and take to the bridleways on a pony trek for an entirely appropriate way to explore this incredible setting.
Perhaps England’s most famous horse is the steed of St George in Uffington, known simply as the ‘White Horse’. Hike across rolling chalk downs and travel back in time to an age of myth and legend as you approach this iconic landmark, thought to be 3,000 years old.
England’s beaches have also evolved to accommodate the more adventurous. Northumberland’s Holy Island allows riders to take out horses and journey across the sand – watching the ancient waves crashing in this beautiful spot from horseback is guaranteed to be a memorable experience. Both Kimmerston Riding Centre and Swinhoe Riding Centre can facilitate such experiences.
Horses will also find a warm welcome on Dorset’s stunning. With permits available from The National Trust, you can gallop, trot or canter to your heart’s content across this four-mile stretch of golden sand. Studland Stables van even bring the bubbly, so you can pop the cork over views of Old Harry Rocks and make this trip even more special. Other horse-friendly beaches include Sandhaven beach and Weston-super-Mare beach.
A Day at the Races
If you’re more into racing than riding, England’s age-old horse racing can offer a heritage twist to your horse holiday. The Aintree Grand National can offer you ‘Ladies Day’ spectacles like no other. Often thought of as the most valuable jump race in Europe, this event offers high quality ‘dressage’ from its spectators, and competitive racing to get the adrenaline pumping. Book a Grand National Experience to relive the excitement of the race through a tour of the racecourse, including the stables and weighing room, and a visit to the Aintree Museum.
A quirky alternative is the Kiplingcotes Derby. Though the event technically took place 20 years before the Chester Roodee – officially the oldest Horse Race in England – it only became an endowed race much later. One oddity of the race is that the rider coming in second place usually wins more money than the winner. While first prize wins £50, the second horse home gains the sum of all the entrance fees – costing £4.25 each. Another difference is that no-one knows how participants will be involved until the morning of the race. Set in the Yorkshire Wolds, the picturesque village of Market Weighton has featured in the famous landscape paintings of David Hockney.
These ideas and suggestions were from VisitEngland. For more pet-friendly holiday inspiration, visit www.visitengland.com.