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.