Finding Horses While Traveling

Some people go on vacation to get away from their everyday life.  For horse people…that means getting away from horses and all the work and worry that goes with that.  I know plenty of horse people that are happy to go on a vacation on a beach and “vacation” about without a horse in sight.  I know plenty that will go to Europe with no thought to looking for horses (on trips where they don’t plan on buying one).  I’m not one of those people…and if you’re not one of those people you’ve found the right article.

Finding Horses While Traveling - Ireland

If you cannot go a week without touching and being near a horse, there’s certainly plenty of ways to do that in most places.  Most every country in the world has some significant horse heritage if you look hard enough.  Horses have been a part of the community of humans for many long years, and even with urban sprawl encroaching on land that used to be set aside for horses, if you look hard enough you will find what you’re looking for and probably find a place to ride too!

Finding Horses While Traveling - Chantilly France

I recently returned from Ireland and the UK.  Both are very horsey places and it’s really not hard to find a place to ride, touch, see or generally be around horses.  Ireland seems to have more sheep than people, more cows than people and maybe as many horses as people.  There are animals everywhere you look, and in a country known for their hospitality and kindness getting involved is easy.  There are 27 race tracks on the tiny island (about the size of the state of Indiana…).  Can you imagine that?  I saw a number of racetracks while just driving around the countryside and there are meets almost every day of the year at at least one of them.  There’s also the Irish National Stud to visit or Coolmore if you feel like visiting the great Galileo.  The racing experience is quite different in Ireland and cannot be missed.

Finding Horses While Traveling - Ireland

There are riding stables everywhere if you look a little and many are happy to take you for a ride if you know what you’re doing (and others cater to the less skilled).  It’s a beautiful country for riding with plenty to look at as your walking, trotting or “cantering” through the countryside.  Riding in Ireland isn’t for wimps.  You’ve all seen those videos of the fox hunts?  If they know you can ride, be prepared for a stiff cross country style gallop through the woods being referred to as a “little canter” and maybe some attempts at getting your horse over or through a water filled ditch.  It’s certainly an adventure!  Tack shops abound too and these babies are huge!  I found several multi story tack shops and had to be physically taken away by my bored husband.

Finding Horses While Traveling - London - Royal Mews

The UK is very horsey as well and you certainly can find more horses in London that one might imagine would be in a city of this size (even one that uses horses ceremonially).  Try the Royal Mews to get a glimpse of a large working facility…and then there’s the Calvary barracks near Hyde Park if you are looking for those stunning black horses.  It’s hard to not encounter horses in London.

Finding Horses While Traveling - Ireland - Cork Racecourse

There is tons of racing in the UK as well if that’s your thing and of course if you’re there at the right times, some big horse shows to attend (like upcoming Olympia) where you might just see Olympic medalists strutting their stuff.  In London there are still a few stables left in the city to ride if you really want to get that done…and I will tell you from recent experience that riding in London is not to be missed (but certainly not for the timid riding in traffic). Having a canter down Rotten Row is a privilege I won’t soon forget and having other tourists take photos, videos and talk to you because “you are riding a horse in Hyde Park so you must be someone” is quite amusing.  I have a new friend to thank for the hook up on that ride.  A big thanks to this website for leading me to meet her and an even bigger thank you to Tara of The Simple Equine for pushing me to do this in London!

Finding Horses While Traveling - Chantilly France

France is probably not a country you think “HORSES!” of when you’re thinking about taking a vacation, but there are plenty there too.  Chantilly is a place not to be missed for the horse loving crowd and is just a short train trip from Paris (easy to do in a day).  This chateau and massive palatial stables is currently in operation and they have a lovely museum to the horse (where you can see some aggressively scary antique equipment!…whoever said the classical riders knew best must not have seen these babies).  They also put on shows and demonstrations regularly (watch the calendar…sometimes they’re on break).  Chantilly Racecourse happens to be right next to it…so if you’re there during the meet there is racing to watch as well.  Riding in Paris isn’t an easy feat so I recommend looking for riding opportunities outside Paris in Normandy or down south in Provence (be prepared for epic wind during some seasons in Provence).

Finding Horses While Traveling - Gear Mountain Horse Boots

So now you have a plan…what next?  Having a little lightweight equipment with you will make you more comfortable riding while you’re on vacation.  Take items that will play double duty.  I took my Mountain Horse boots with added Cobalt inserts from Ariat.  {If anyone wants a pair of size 9 dress boots that have been all over Europe…send me a message.  I’m selling them (they’re too soft for my liking for actual riding).}   I knew it was going to be cold and possibly rainy, so boots made sense for Europe in November anyways.  They are comfortable for walking and having proper boots while riding was a bonus and I’m glad I took them.  I wore them on the plane so they didn’t add weight to my suitcase.

Finding Horses While Traveling - London - Ride in Hyde Park

I also took my Body Sculpting Seamless Riding Tights from Goode Rider and rode it them twice and wore them several other times (including on the plane ride over).  They’re comfortable, light-weight, easy to pack and easy to wash.  They were perfect for traveling and kept me comfortable in and out of the saddle.  I took a pair of Perfect Fit Gloves from Noble Outfitters but quickly found they weren’t nearly warm enough for the trip and an older model shirt from them as well which I did wear riding and as a base layer on colder days.

Finding Horses While Traveling - France

While I was there I bought a couple Horseware Ireland items (because I was in Ireland of course!) that ended up being used throughout the trip.  One was a quarter zip shirt and the other were a pair of soft shell water repellent gloves.  The gloves were a lifesaver on the trip and I wore them almost every day…

Finding Horses While Traveling - London - Ride in Hyde Park

So pack a few essentials that will make you more comfortable in the saddle that can play double duty and be used as street-wear to help minimize packing issues. Use Google to your advantage to find places to surround yourself with horses while you travel and don’t hesitate to ask locals for tips.  It never hurts to put a call out to your friends to see if they have any recommendations (or hook ups) for you as well.  Maybe your friend from college knows someone that knows someone that can find a horse for you and get you into a fox hunt in Ireland?  Where there’s a will, there’s certainly a way and within the horse community that’s doubly true.

Happy traveling!