One of the best ways to explore a new place is on horseback. It provides an unique perspective of the landscape, horses are amazing animals, and it is just a fun and adventurous activity. So if you are are excited to jump in the saddle on your next trip, here are five things to keep in mind.
1. The stable’s reputation
It is a good idea to do a little bit of research on the stables that you want to ride from. What do people have to say about the place online? What do the locals say? Mention of friendliness and care for the horses are things to look out for. Keeping horses is a full time job that needs to be done with love and passion, and this will shine through in a review. Unfortunately not all stables are as responsible as they should be and some are more geared towards making a quick buck, compromising the health and safety of both horses and riders.
2. The price
Yep. It’s bad news for the old wallet, but the price of a ride is generally a good indicator of the quality of the experience, and more importantly the care for the animals. Horses are not cheap animals to keep and maintain. It depends on what part of the world you are in, but generally around $50us for a few hours is the standard. If the price is much, much lower then I’d be careful.
3. The horses
When arriving at the stables, take a close look at the horses. Do they look well fed? You should not be able to see the ribs on a horse with a healthy weight. Do they look very agitated or jumpy, or do they generally seem content? How are they being handled?
If the horses are in a paddock, is there shelter from the elements available?
The foal on the left joined his mum and us for the ride
4. Your level
Make sure you are teamed up with a trusty steed that suits your level and temperament. The person who takes you out riding should know how to make this pairing work out smoothly and ask about your experience and level. You’re probably not Zorro , so if you’re not sure about taming the stallion you have been handed, speak up. Side note: rapido means fast in Spanish. Someone somewhere is wishing they had known that before.
Since it is pretty much a given that you will be riding outside through risky terrain, a helmet is a must. Horse riding can be dangerous and you don’t want to be flown back home in a helicopter thanking your lucky stars for that travel insurance. I hate wearing helmets and have definitely broken this rule before which is irresponsible and stupid. Don’t try to be cool, kids.
This horse is not quite old enough yet to be ridden
5. The guide’s knowledge
The person that takes you out riding should know a lot about the flora and fauna and the history of the area you are visiting, so don’t forget to ask them any questions!
The photos in this article all were taken on a ride around the Sacred Valley on the outskirts of Cusco, Peru. While taking a few breaks from riding through the stunning landscape and our horses had some time to wander around, the guide told us about the different archaeological complexes build by the Incas, and showed us the people still maintaining a connection with their ancestry living around the area. This made the experience my favourite to date.
Laqo, more commonly known as the temple of the moon
Lastly, when you arrive ready to gallop into the sunset but something does not feel right and you are not sure the stable owner has the horse’s best interests in mind, it is best to not go through with the ride. I have had to say no once before when I realised the stable owner was a kamikaze cowboy who tried to look as awesome as possible on his horse, while the horse was terrified of him. Giving money to an irresponsible animal owner perpetuates the problem, and letting them know you don’t condone that sort of treatment sends a powerful message.
Hopefully these tips were helpful, if you have anything to add leave a comment and let us know!
And don’t forget to enjoy the ride