Holidays with horses are becoming more popular every year.
For most riding holidays there is no need to own a horse. The choices are wide ranging and sometimes very exotic, running from adventures like a horse back safari in Africa to riding Clydesdales in Northumbria. But in spite of those exciting options, the fastest growing riding holidays are for those people who have their own horses. B+B facilities for horses and riders are springing up throughout Great Britain, allowing riders to plan their own routes. Fast becoming the most popular among people with their own horses are holidays based at one venue.
For the past 6 years I have been involved in running riding camps at Plumpton College in Sussex. Our horse camp is one among many similar camps and organisations which make use of the facilities over the summer recess at the college.
Horse owners can choose from Western riding camps, “Le Trec” camps (a mix of challenging horse obstacles and riding over set routes in the countryside) as well as adult riding camps like ours that welcome riders and horses of any ability and level.
Horse camps are run to inspire and to encourage riders to not only improve their skills but to challenge the riders to achieve some personal goals over the few days they have available.
For some riders it will be clearing their first jump; for others it will be riding their first dressage test or they may want to overcome specific fears and build more confidence in their riding.
This may seem a tall order in only a matter of days but the reason skills can be honed and problems overcome so quickly is because everything the riders need is on site. The facilities at the college are wonderful and include 2 indoor schools, a jumping field, cross country jumps, and hacking on the Sussex downs.
All the riders have to do is to enjoy their horses. There’s no need to travel to and from their horse as accommodation is at the college. There’s no cooking or shopping because the college has an excellent canteen.
What a luxury to focus 100% on your horse! There is even a mechanical horse at the college, so you can take the opportunity to work on your position without worrying about a real horses’ reactions.
The opportunity to try out new disciplines and experiences are part of the charm. One of the highlights this year was the Le Trec course which allowed the riders and horses to try the various components that comprise the obstacle course section of this new discipline.
Evenings are filled with optional equine themed activities – these can be as far ranging as equine behaviour lectures, horse biomechanics and conformation, or show jumping and dressage competitions.
As the horses and riders leave on the last day they are inspired, have new skills and a network of new friends, and have achieved their riding goals.
A lasting holiday memento indeed.
Horse and Hound School at Plumpton College in Sussex UK.
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