Are you thinking about a Family Riding Holiday
A riding trip makes a wonderful family holiday - something the generations can enjoy together.
Should we stay in one place or ride place-to-place..? A lot depends on your group mix. A one-base stay is often the answer for a group of different abilities. Riding hours can be tailored to suit and other activities organised for less keen, or less able, riders. But for an experienced riding family, a ‘place to place’ ride offers that added element of adventure, as well as the feeling of 'we're all doing something together'.
How much riding will there be each day? It varies and depends entirely on the trip you choose. One base rides usually give the most flexibility; saddle hours can be adjusted and riding may be just one of a number of possible activities. These are the best choice if you are with any young, novice, reluctant or non-riders.
Place-to-place rides usually include 'fixed' hours, as everyone needs to get from A to B. Most include an average of roughly 5 hours riding a day, although there may be longer and shorter days. Where two consecutive nights are spent in the same accommodation, it's usually possible to take a day or part day off - although you need to book ahead if you'd like other activities laid on. The main point to remember is that all riders need to be able to 'ride the distance' - or you need to ask us about tailoring the route, or ride, early on. This can often (not always!) be done, but we'll need plenty of notice. Occasionally arrangements can also be made for non-riders to travel alongside the group, meeting in the evenings and sometimes for lunch, but again this needs plenty of notice. It generally means organising additional vehicles and drivers so may involve extra cost.
Before you choose your trip, its important to think about what will work best for your family. Will everyone be keen to ride long hours every day - or do you prefer more flexibility for opt-outs and to try other activities? Experience with our own children (all boys, now teenage) is that they like to be kept busy, but prefer shorter riding hours with plenty of action and variety, to long hours of leisurely riding, however stunning the views.
Our best advice is: think about it carefully, then talk to us about the options and what you can expect.
What else will there be to do? Again this depends on the ride you choose....
Game viewing always adds a fantastic dimension and in our view, riding safaris make one of the best family holidays. If you are a mixed group of riders and non-riders, it gives something everyone can enjoy together.
You might also like the option to fish, cycle or for local outings and visits. Please ask early on what might be available.
Guides One aspect that's always important is the attitude and enthusiasm of your hosts' and local guides - and this is where we can really help. We know our holidays, our guides, the areas and horses very well; we know what 'works' for families and we know our operators' personalities. We know how much they put into looking after their guests and its often that, that will make your family holiday extra special.
How old do children have to be to join a ride? There is no ‘across the board’ minimum age. Age restrictions vary with destination and always depend on the individual.
Generally, if you are thinking of a longer place - to- place ride, 12 yrs as a minimum is a useful guideline. But this is by no means a hard and fast rule. Size, stamina and riding ability, as well as group numbers, all have a bearing.
Some place-to-place rides include long days riding from A to B in a remote setting. It is difficult to give up half way and emergency back-up, if needed, can take time to arrive. So age restrictions on these rides will be stricter.
Some of our ride organisers are restricted by insurance cover. For example in areas with 'big' game, insurers often impose a minimum age, which will apply irrespective of riding ability.
Ride organisers may also be limited by the horses available - many do not have children's ponies so everyone needs to be comfortable (and big enough) on a horse over about 14.2hh.
Some of our one-base options (for example the Ants Lodges and Horizon Horseback in South Africa) provide fantastic, flexible riding for children as young as 8 yrs and a few places (including those two) offer leading rein rides for even younger children. Please ask us for ideas.
What else do I need to think about? As well as riding ability, think about travel and transfer times. If you are travelling with young children, are long haul flights and destinations that include a big time change, going to be practical?
Seasonality is important. Family holidays usually have to be outside school term - so you need to think when you can go and which destinations will work at that time.
School summer holidays are the obvious travel time but Easter and the May and (particularly) October half term can be a good lower season option.
December and early January are some of the best times to visit much of South America - but you'll need to book well ahead as flights get very booked up, particularly for a return just after Christmas or in early January.
Its also well worth thinking about the social side of your holiday and what this offers children. If planning to join a set date ride, will there be other younger riders in the group for your children to socialise with? Will the daily timetable work for younger children - late group dinners may not suit and would it be better to look at a one-base holiday, where meal times can be more flexible?
Remember too, that if you plan to join a standard ride on which there will be other guests, there'll be less flexibility than if you reserve exclusively for your own group. The latter may not cost much more and generally allows more choice in what you do, when.
Should we join other guests or book a private ride? Many of our set itineraries can be reserved privately for groups and this is often the best answer for a family trip. There might be little in it cost wise. We’re also more than happy to custom-make family itineraries on request - perhaps cutting riding hours, tailoring the travel side, making special meal arrangements, providing babysitters or extra guides for children. Almost all of our rides can be adapted so if you have somewhere in mind, please ask.
We also organize tailormade itineraries which combine riding with other activities - cycling, fishing, walking, kayaking or time to enjoy the beach. If non-riders in your family want to cycle, a cycling trip alongside the riding one can work very well. For this look at Santa Cristina in Italy, South Africa, Kenya and some of our rides in Spain.
Or why not add to the educational aspect, by including a short city visit or a few days sightseeing before or after? With children, our experience is that variety - mixing it up, being flexible and ensuring there's something for everyone - is key.
There really are lots of possibilities so why not link up with friends and book an action packed week of family fun. Or let us design the perfect trip to celebrate yourspecial occasion and make memories that will last forever!
Top Family Holiday Ideas
Looking for inspiration for a family holiday? Read this article on a family summer holiday in the Gredos in Spain, featured in Country Life Magazine a few years ago: Country Life; Taking up the reins in Spain
And here are some of our other favourites:
Italy, Santa Cristina, Tuscany:
We love Santa Cristina for mixed family groups. Dates to suit, relaxed, friendly and informal. You can ride, swim, cycle, play tennis or golf, enjoy a burst of culture (or a spot of shopping) in Orvieto & Sorano, try water sports at Lake Bolsena, then wind down over pizza cooked in wood-fired ovens as only the Italians know how. Quality family time. With a choice of accommodation in individual cottages, apartments and en-suite rooms, there's enough flexibility to dip in and out and keep your own space too. Perfect for multi generational family gatherings! 3 to 8 nights and tailored programmes on request. Riders & non-riders all welcome. Please get in touch for example itineraries.
South Africa, Horizon Adventures & The Ants Lodges:
South Africa is a top spot for family travel and the additional excitement of seeing game always adds something extra special to a riding holiday, particularly for children. These 'bush homes' in South Africa are THE experts when it comes to families. Hidden on the Waterberg plateau, a UNESCO biosphere reserve often called South Africa’s ‘best kept secret’, they are an easy drive from Johannesburg (itself a direct, overnight flight from London) in an area that is malaria free. Completely flexible in arrival and departure dates, you can visit for anything from 3 to 10 nights or more, making them a holiday destination in their own right or somewhere to include in a longer trip to South Africa. Riders & non-riders are very welcome, there's a choice of activities, a choice of accommodation, a choice of horses, a choice of food and a choice of virtually everything else! Flexibility, fun and the art of bending-over-backwards are the key to their success. Definitely hard to beat. Ask us for example itineraries
Kenya, Sosian & Borana lodges:
Equally expert in 'family' are Sosian and Borana Lodges in Kenya, our No 1 'bush and beach' destination. Like our other family favourites, Sosian and Borana are privately owned and are all about flexibility, providing fun, adventure and 'R&R' for all - and with their highly personal service they always get the measure just right. Rounding off a safari with a few days on the coast, where the active can swim, snorkel, waterski, fish, paddle-board, kayak and others in need of a rest, can sit back, watch and enjoy peace and quiet, is the way to a totally magical family holiday. Definitely one of our family's best ever holidays!
Wyoming, USA, The Bitterroot Ranch:
A family ranch stay in the USA is high on many wish lists and for us The Bitterroot in Wyoming is a really good choice. Hidden at the head of a remote valley in the Absaroka Mountains, it adjoins miles of untouched National Forest. Flower scattered meadows under Wyoming's big sky; the gushing Wind River, snow capped peaks on every horizon. Learn to fish, sort cattle or head off with pack horses to camp in the hills. Watch a hundred happy horses canter home at night, walk the llamas, square dance or visit the rodeo in town. Staying in cozy log cabins, its back-to-basics family fun away from the intrusion of screens and machines. 7 nights full board from $2915 US per adult / $2185 US per child (under 16)
Argentina, Estancia Los Potreros and Estancia La Rosita
Los Potereros and La Rosita are in different provinces of northern Argentina and both offer a South American holiday that is run along similar lines to our favourite African safari lodges - a stay at a comfortable, privately owned property that has attentive, personal and family flexible service at its heart. This time, the emphasis is on all the wonderful things that make the Argentine gaucho culture so special. Both estancias have a string of lovely horses for exploring; they offer the chance to join gauchos in their day to day activities, working and tending cattle, rounding up horses, learning to lasso. You can learn to play polo, swim, try a cooking or tango lesson, enjoy wine tasting and gather for delicious dinners made from home grown, organic fare. One very special aspect is that both estancias are available to block-book privately for small groups - Los Potreros for a group of just 6, La Rosita for 8 (or less at higher rates) - making them the perfect option for a family celebration or special family holiday. We dream of booking an estancia privately with family and friends, watching our children having enormous fun riding with the gauchos, and stopping for a couple of nights in cosmopolitan Buenos Aires on the way out or back...
The rides above are just a few of the options we offer - but there are plenty of others to choose from. For place-to-place rides, we love the Italian family friendly welcome in Sicily; riding in Romania is a wonderful way to experience a different culture, enjoy superb open riding country and the charm of a bygone age; our village-to-village rides in France's Dordogne & Gironde & the Basque Pyrenees are easy to get to from the UK, one of the best possible ways to really get to know France and ideal for small groups and the Sierra Nevada and Gredos rides in Spain are both super family adventures.
Ideas are too numerous to list but if you'd like a holiday where you won't be left sitting around wondering where to go or what to do next, where you won't be juggling children's opposing ideas of the best way to spend the day but where you'll DO, SEE, LEARN but above all ENJOY something together, we can certainly help. Message us now to talk about your ideas and for latst dates, prices and availability.
Do something together and make magical family memories!