In the spring while in the States I travelled to visit friends in Ohio and had the pleasure of riding a Tennessee walking horse – it was quite an experience as I was in the lead in a strange environment and he was full of energy so I didn’t dare try the lope! The special gait was very comfortable.
This year was a great one for riding but also for wildlife. In Romania we saw bee-eaters and honey buzzards but the highlight was seeing a bear at Lost Valley ranch in October. We were just coming down from the morning ride and a few hundred yards up from the arena was a brown shape, which at first I thought was a dog but as the remainder of its body came into view it turned out to be a young bear scavenging from a dead mule deer. It climbed up a tree but as it did not seem dangerous we all stood underneath and watched. More people came up from the arena to see what we were looking at. It was still there overnight and stayed in the vicinity until the carcase was only bones. In the afternoon it hissed at us, protecting its feast but the horses did not seem unduly scared except when its claws made a noise climbing up the pine trees. Also we saw a great horned owl which sat and looked at us. (photo below)
In July I tried my first two-day trail ride from Boltby Trekking Centre (North Yorkshire) with a friend who had never been on a riding holiday before. We had a splendid ride and the accommodation at Easterside Farm, Hawnby on the North Yorks Moors was fantastic. Good company and good weather made this a great break and it’s very near to home for me http://www.boltbytrekking.co.uk/
In June I spend a week in Devon with Devon Riding Holidays, which used to be the Yorkshire Dales Trekking Centre in North Yorkshire. In spite of many people being sad about this move it has to be said that the location of the stables and riding is spectacular. If you want peace and quiet this is the place to go. The accommodation is lovely and homely and with permission to go over some private land the riding is good too. The beach and Exmoor, with its famous riding country are only a box ride away although I have not experienced that yet. It is possible for a small fee to use the gallops next door so if you want a racing experience – here’s the place to go.
All the details can be found at the website, so do go for a unique fun and friendly experience.
In September I returned to Karecole (Save petrol by taking train to Edinburgh) for a 2 day riding break. This was not a trail ride but the accommodation at Ingraston Farm (http://www.ingraston.co.uk/)is superb groups of riders on both days and a and we had a great lunch at the Old Bakery in West Linton
This year two trips to the ranch are planned plus a Lodge Safari to Botswana.