How to evaluate a riding vacation with Darley Newman of Equitrekking

If you can’t see the above-embedded video clip from Equitrekking with Darley Newman riding Ireland’s Ring of Kerry, click on the link.

Everyone has a Bucket List, even if it isn’t written down and only consists of poignant stray thoughts. If you’re not familiar with the term, a Bucket List is a compilation of dream experiences to be enjoyed, places to go and things to do, before a person’s life ends.

Many horse lovers have dream riding vacations on their Bucket Lists. Perhaps riding in Ireland? Or a cattle drive out West?  Or riding on a beach? Even riding on a beach in Maui?

But what if you’re a casual rider? Or returning to horses in mid-life? Or have health issues making the clock tick faster? Do you have to abandon your horsey dreams?

Darley Newman, producer and star of the long-running TV PBS series “Equitrekking,” gives us some ideas.

Her Equitrekking’s website even has riding vacations listed and categorized.  Many are cross-referenced. The long list is both exciting and daunting. Let’s ask Darley how to help determine which ones to consider:

How can you tell by reading the website if a riding vacation destination or dude ranch is suitable for you, your physical abilities and/or your riding abilities?

It depends on the website and the destination. There are many dude ranches, guest ranches and riding vacations that are suitable for a variety of riding levels. To really know, if the riding level is not already listed on the site, email or call to find out if the riding vacation will fit your riding style, ability and vacation dreams. The most important thing is to be truthful about your riding ability or lack thereof. You don’t want to be overmatched as that doesn’t make for a fun vacation. You also don’t want to be bored on a vacation that is too far below your riding abilities.

If you are a complete beginner, there are many ranches that would be a good fit. You can take riding lessons on your vacation and go at your own pace. A dude ranch can be a great introduction to riding. If you are looking at a progressive vacation, where you travel by horseback daily for multiple hours in the saddle, you’ll likely want to be a more experienced rider.

Are single female travelers welcome at riding vacation destinations like dude ranches, etc?

Yes! I’ve been on a few riding vacations where it’s all single women travelers. A riding vacation or dude ranch can be a great place for female travelers who have an interest in horses and the great outdoors. You may meet like-minded people on your vacation and make a friend that may be a future travel buddy. It’s also a great way to meet local people and many times have an authentic cultural experience. One thing to keep in mind is that some destinations charge a single supplement if you don’t want to share a room or tent or wherever it is that you’re sleeping, so you’ll want to ask about this. Some riding vacations can find you a partner if you don’t want to pay extra, so make sure to ask about this.

Still, a riding vacation still might be a little too much of a financial or physical burden, but horsey dreams do not have to be deferred or abandoned, perhaps merely adjusted. The Equitrekking site also has possible non-riding equestrian vacations listed, such as visits to horse museums. So, you still can go to an equestrian destination, soak up the atmosphere, like the fragrances of horses, leather and hay. You might even have an opportunity to love on some horses.

For some of us, that may be enough.

Thanks, Darley!


  • Laura Moore
    March 27, 2013

    Great post and information, and so timely, Rhonda! After a winter like this, I bet many of us are dreaming of summer days on horseback! I know I am!

  • Rhonda Lane
    March 27, 2013

    Me too, Laura. 🙂 Everywhere looks prettier from the back of a horse. Thanks for stopping by and saying “hi.”

  • Susie Blackmon (@SusieBlackmon)
    March 27, 2013

    Yes, everything is beautiful from the back of a horse for sure. If I could be on one right now, I’d be on a cutting horse, cutting a cow…. in Waimea on the Big Island of Hawaii. In the meantime, I’ll keep visiting Darley’s site in true voyeur mode!

    Thanks Rhonda! And Darley!

    • Rhonda Lane
      March 28, 2013

      🙂 There ya go, Susie. 🙂 That’s a wonderful vision – cutting cattle in Hawaii. Plus, you’re correct: Darley’s site is an armchair traveler’s bonanza. Thanks for stopping by and saying “hi.”

  • Stacey Adams
    March 28, 2013

    Rhonda – again, another great and informative post – I SO look forward to them, and eagerly read them each time (even the racing ones, as that is far from my strong “suit”, lol).

    Thanks for posting this! It’s a question we get every week when folks call or email to ask about a riding trip. And while we send very descriptive and thorough info by email, we always try to call folks to speak in person so that we can relay one on one what our experience was on the trip (unlike others, we won’t offer a trip unless we’ve personally been there – and our offices are based here in the USA, so you aren’t calling far afield to speak to someone).

    From the beginning, Darley has long used our trips as fodder for new material for which we are SO grateful – it’s a huge compliment to the time and effort we put into personally attending and selecting trips that really are the best – if you are going to spend your hard earned money and take personal time – the trip better be worth it!

    Thanks again for posting this – it’s great to see riding trips and vacations getting folks looking to summer!

    Looking forward to your next post 😉

  • Rhonda Lane
    March 28, 2013

    Hi, Stacey – Vacation travel is a huge investment in both time and finances. Active vacation travel involves an additional expenditure of energy as well, adding in a whole ‘nuther level of “Can I afford this?”

    So, more information is vital. For those of you looking for an additional resource, Stacey’s site is

    Thanks so much for stopping by and saying “hi,” Stacey.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

* Checkbox GDPR is required


I agree

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.