Holiday Reports | Far and Ride

Far and Ride


Holiday Report: Portugal Showjumping and Dressage

December 3rd, 2015

Portugal Showjumping and Dressage, 2015.

Natalie Garner, Far and Ride.

In September this year I travelled back to Portugal for a long weekend in order to visit our wonderful partners at our new Portuguese Showjumping and Dressage destination. Located just ten minutes from the town of Abrantés, right on the banks of the river Tagus in the very heart of Portugal, the riding centre is a very professional outfit owned and run by Vitor and his wonderful daughter Filipa. Along with their hard working and dedicated staff and instructors, the centre is a great location to practice your riding skills and learn some new techniques, as well as regularly playing host to National and International competitions.

Instructors Jorge and Paulo are both professionals in their respective fields and are happy to share their vast knowledge and experience with their pupils. By the end of the first session, their kindness and gentle encouragement really help me to feel at ease, relax and enjoy my time in the saddle. By the end of my stay, I am confidently jumping small courses of showjumps, as well as performing advanced dressage movements such as half-pass and piaffe with great familiarity. But of course, the horses are of the utmost importance and those whom I have the privilege to ride are all comfortable and pleasurable to deal with. For my dressage lessons I enjoy the company of two beautiful Lusitano horses and in the jumping no less than three fantastic and dynamic warmbloods.
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Holiday Report: Dordogne Farmhouse

November 4th, 2014

Dordogne Farmhouse, France, July 2014. 

Natalie Garner, Far and Ride. 

In July 2014, I went to visit our new partner ride – the Dordogne Farmhouse – in the beautiful Dordogne region of Southern France.

Arrival Day

Arriving into Limoges on Monday, the weather was clear and cool. As my RyanAir flight touches down on the tarmac, the small, modern, glass fronted airport comes into view; a sense of quiet peace hangs over this whole area. Passing through the double doors which separate “luggage collection” with “arrivals”, I scan the room beyond. My first impressions of Gill, are of a lady who is down to earth and resilient and, as a nervous single traveller, I am relieved to find that she is very amiable and quite happy to talk to me about her business, and life in France – I feel I can begin to relax! Gill has collected me in her own car, so with the sun shining we begin the 55 minute drive to her farmhouse in the Perigord-Limousin Regional Natural Park. The countryside I witness, as we drive down the sleepy “main” roads of this region, is green, undulating and fertile. Arriving to the farmhouse, I am greeted by the boisterous characters – Lily and Rosie. The house itself is built of a yellow granite stone – most probably quarried from small mines somewhere on the property – off-set by beautiful mint-green shutters and doors as well as elegantly draped grape-vines and honeysuckle flowers. Inside, the house has a warm and homely feel, with tasteful decoration and a cosy kitchen-lounge. My room, “Aubére”, is clean and comfortable and features some glorious modern innovations; an electric power shower and large flat screen television, as well as some more character features such as wooden beams and bare stone wall behind the head board. Overall, my first impression is of an inviting and contemporary country cottage.
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Holiday Report: Dahab Adventures

March 26th, 2014

Holly and Ronaldo in front of the Blue Lagoon

Dahab Adventures, Egypt, 2014.

Holly Anthony, Far and Ride.

“Want to go for a bit?” – Sam

In February 2014 I went out to visit our new partner stables in Dahab, Egypt, to learn more about the setup and sample the riding. Having already met one of the owners, Emma, back in December, I felt that I had a good grasp of the services they were offering and the sort of experience our clients should expect, but nothing is better than sampling it for one’s self! I flew into Sharm-el-Sheikh which is around an hour’s drive from Dahab Paradise, the hotel where I would be staying for the three nights of my trip. As well as based stays with hotels they also organise safaris/trails into Naqb National Park or to St Catherine’s Monastery, which include nights spent at Bedouin camps for an authentic experience. These are wonderful choices for experienced riders who also want to sample the wildlife and history of the Sinai Peninsula.

I had heard about the delights of Dahab from friends, who assured me it is a relaxed and welcoming town, famed for its peaceful atmosphere and incredible diving opportunities. Travelling in the midst of Egypt’s political troubles, I wasn’t too sure what impact this would have had on the area but I needn’t have worried – I felt perfectly safe from the moment our plane touched down in Sharm. I was picked up from the airport and we stopped off at the stables so that I could meet the other owners, Sam and Ali. They live on site, tending to the horses day and night, and I would soon learn that they are experienced horsemen and knowledgeable guides to boot. I would be riding with Sam during my stay but enjoyed many a conversation with Ali and it was evident that the care of both the horses and the guests is very important to him. I found the stables to be in excellent order, clean and tidy, with all of the horses happily munching away on their dinner. I couldn’t wait to see them all again in the daylight and to saddle up for some horseback exploring!
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Holiday Report: El Bronco Ranch

November 20th, 2013

El Bronco Ranch, Hungary

Holly Anthony, Far and Ride

Holly riding Panna

 

I visited El Bronco Ranch in May 2013 as part of a group of women who stayed at the ranch for a week. We went primarily for horse riding (of course!) but also to enjoy some of the ranch’s other activities such as a visit to the local cheese factory, a palinka tasting and even some line dancing! It is a wonderful destination for groups as the ranch has an open, sociable feel to it but it also welcomes single travellers, couples and families with open doors and warm hospitality. It is an affordable riding holiday destination and easily accessible from Budapest airport (transfer service available) which can be reached by many low cost airlines. Another benefit is that the ranch is open all year round and can offer great riding activities regardless of the weather – with an enormous indoor arena and sandy riding tracks, which provide excellent footing regardless of the temperature, riding in winter is no problem. They have also recently opened their wellness centre complete with jacuzzi and three types of sauna – the perfect way to warm up after a ride on a chilly day! Equally if you travel during peak summer then their outdoor pool is ready and waiting to cool you down after a ride in the warm sun.
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Holiday Report: Catalonia Trails

November 13th, 2013

Holly and Al-HattalCatalonia Trails, Spain, 2013. 

Holly Anthony, Far and Ride. 

From 15 – 22 September 2013 I joined the Mountain to Sea Trail at our Catalonia Trails destination in Spain. I accompanied two clients, both single female travellers, and we were joined by a variety of others from Austria, Sweden, Germany and Holland. A Dutch lady on this trail was visiting this riding set up for the 14th time and goes twice a year! The trail starts and ends at the farmhouse of Can Muni in the small village of Pins and takes you on a wonderful adventure to the beach, fascinating medieval towns, up into the mountains and back again. It is a great ride for the practiced rider, capable of riding at all paces and over difficult terrain, and I would like to share my thoughts on it with you. Forgive me for the length but I didn’t want to miss anything out!

On the departure Sunday I started reasonably early and took a lift to London Luton airport for my flight to Barcelona. These riding holidays have set time group transfers and so I was to be collected at 6pm from Barcelona airport, along with many of the other riders. The meeting point at the airport was easy to find and the driver held a sign for us, ticking off our names from his list to ensure everyone was there. From here we made our way to Can Muni travelling via Girona airport to collect some other riders. After a little over two hours we were safely delivered to Can Muni and shown to our rooms. The farmhouse is owned and run by Juan and Isabel who speak very limited English but were always willing to help us, dashing around to carry bags and make sure everyone was OK. The real part of hostess is played by Birgit who is an experienced horsewoman and former guide (she still guides occasionally but has mostly retired due to injury) – she made sure that everyone knew what time to meet for drinks and dinner and that we all found our rooms. The rooms here are rustic and simple but clean and comfortable, each with their own bathroom. The buildings are in the traditional stone style of the area and there are some communal areas such as the dining room, sitting area and the covered terrace where we sometimes ate. There is also a magnificent pool and the stable yard is just a few metres from the farmhouse buildings, perfect for those who just can’t keep away from the horses!
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Holiday Report: Mallorca Tuition and Trails

October 31st, 2013

Sally riding Pietro in the enormous menageMallorca Tuition & Trails, 2013.

Sally Scott, Far and Ride. 

This was my first trip on behalf of Far and Ride and thinking about it, probably my first time flying alone! As I was only visiting Mallorca for a few days, I squashed a couple of pairs of jodhpurs into my hand luggage and after a 4am wake up call, I was in Palma before I knew it! Upon arrival, I was greeted warmly by Pilar who oversees the communications for our ‘Mallorca Tuition and Trails’ destination. She was so welcoming and we hit it off straight away. The equestrian centre is German owned and normally it is Toni (the owner) who collects the guests from the airport. His English is virtually non-existent but his kind nature and cheery outlook ensure that this is not something to be worried about. I later found out that Toni had been to Palma three times the previous day to ensure that none of the guests had to wait for their transfer.

The car journey from Palma only takes around 40-45 minutes however, upon reaching the finca, it feels as though you could have driven for hours down country tracks and still not found a more tranquil setting. As we passed through the imposing iron gates that shield this horsey haven, Steffi (the dressage trainer) elegantly strolled past on one of her young stallions. I’m not sure that this welcome is to be expected by all guests but it could not have been timed more perfectly for my arrival! The small reception is conveniently located just off the car park and the intimate size of the whole operation immediately makes you feel as though you will be well looked after. The finca is impressive yet homely and the rooms are decorated in the traditional Mallorcan style with dark wooden furniture, terra-cotta tiled roofs and sea blue bathroom tiles. French windows are present in all rooms and most even have a small balcony – great for drying clothes later in the week! My room boasted a spectacular view across the menage and before unpacking, I took a while to watch Steffi training the stallions at her leisure. It was mesmerising and I could have sat there for hours.
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Holiday Report: Wellness Weekend, El Bronco Ranch, Hungary

October 31st, 2013

Kiskunsagi (El Bronco) Ranch, Hungary, 2013.

“Hungary for More” by Gemma Fielden. 

Sun, sand, spa… horses? At least three things you can expect to be wowed by at El Bronco Ranch, situated in the beautiful Kiskunsági National Park. The crickets are chirping, the horses are neighing and the jacuzzi is bubbling!

You are free to explore the ranch to your heart’s content and will always find an array of friendly horses (and adorable foals) who will vie for your attention. With their grassy verges, sandy corrals and picture perfect paving, you can discover the hidden gems of the ranch at your leisure. Watch a stallion in his daily training, go hiking through serene forests, gallop along miles of sandy trails or perhaps you’d rather relax with a detox in one of the three different types of sauna available to you all day, every day. Whether you are horsey or not, there’s something for everyone at El Bronco.

If you are taking a trip here for the horses and the Western riding experience you certainly won’t be disappointed. With quaint Quarter Horses, pretty Paint horses and handsome Hungarian half breeds you will be personally matched to the horse of your dreams! Well-behaved and each with their own individual personalities you won’t be able to help falling in love, I know I did. The only bad part is that you can’t bring them home with you… airlines tend to frown upon that sort of thing!
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Holiday Report: Catalonia Trails, Spain

February 20th, 2013

Catalonia Trails, Spain, 2013

Sue Woodbine, Far and Ride. 

In January 2013 our Managing Director, Sue, visited our Catalonia Trails riding destination in Spain. These horseback holidays were formerly known as ‘Can Jou’, an extremely popular outfit with an excellent reputation. The trails have now been revamped and are better than ever! Here is Sue’s report…

“I have recently returned from a short trip to Catalonia to see the new base for the horse riding holidays which were formerly known as ‘Can Jou’. The trail routes, team and horses have now moved to a different farmhouse called Can Muni in the Costa Brava – a traditional Catalan farmhouse situated in an area which is easier to access than the original farmhouse and with plenty of wonderful trails on the doorstep. Rather than joining one of their set trails, I was just making a short visit, out of season, to learn more about the destination for our clients.

I flew into Barcelona and was met by Anna in the new minibus that is going to be used for transferring the guests. The drive to the farmhouse is scenic and I was very happy to settle down and take in the sights and the sunshine. Set time transfers are available from Barcelona or Girona airports – there are more flights into Barcelona but Girona is closer to the farmhouse. We arrived at Can Muni which is situated in a tiny hamlet in the heart of the countryside. The accommodation is based around a 17th century farmhouse surrounded by stone cottages which have been converted from ancient barns. Catalan architecture remains at the forefront but the renovated barns have modern facilities, whilst still retaining all the characteristics of the original buildings. I was shown to my room which is based in one of the cottages adjoining the main farmhouse – the cottage has two double bedrooms, each with a modern ensuite shower room. There is a comfortable lounge area with a wood burning stove and TV which extends into a large kitchen area with a welcoming table.
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Holiday Report, Aquitaine Adventures, France

November 13th, 2012

Sarah and Helios galloping on the beachAquitaine Adventures, France, 2012.

Sarah Ritchie, Far and Ride.

From 7th – 14th October 2012, Sarah from Far and Ride escorted a group of clients on the ‘Atlantic Coast Experience’ at our Aquitaine Adventures destination in France. This is a programme for experienced riders and combines trails in the pine forests with excellent beach riding. In the warmer summer months it also includes the chance to swim with your horse in the sea, a special experience for everyone.

Below is Sarah’s report on her French adventure:

“I met two Far and Ride clients, Sue and Jules, at Luton Airport before our departure on an empty one and a half hour flight to Bordeaux. We met another client Katie at arrivals before heading to meet out driver who would take us to the riding centre where we would meet Michel, the owner of the stables and the organiser of rides at this destination. After a quick introduction he drove us to our accommodation, Hotel Mermoz, which is a mere five minute drive from the stables (an easy walk in fact) and situated in the coastal town of Mimizan-Plage. After check-in we spent our free afternoon eating lunch in a restaurant overlooking the beach before exploring the town. Mimizan is a quaint little seaside town full of restaurants and shops with miles and miles of almost deserted beach, though it’s busier during peak season when tourists come to experience the silver coast and the good weather. Before dinner we greeted Adrian, another Far and Ride client (who had travelled from Biarritz airport), and were taken to a local restaurant called Chez Jean Paul for dinner along with other guests. We enjoyed a delicious first dinner of salad, bread and cold meats to start, beef kebabs and ‘pomme frites’ for main course and then a selection of desserts. Drinks are not included with the dinners but they do not cost much here.
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Holiday Report: Calimani Mountain Trails, Romania

August 24th, 2012

Relu's photo of the riding groupCalimani Mountain Trails, Transylvania, Romania, 2012.

‘Transylvania – A Fashion for Vampires’, Christine Dier.

There had been a light shower of rain as we travelled through the mountainous region of Transylvania and just as the evening started to settle, the clouds started to emerge from the silent forest, drifting slowly towards the sky, and even if you don’t believe in vampires the atmospheric conditions would challenge even the most sceptical. Every one of our exploration group joked how you could see how the legends occurred and Bram Stoker stories have filtered across the globe. Our tents were pitched close to the top of the mountains just above the tree line, in a little huddle for the comfort of knowing others were close by.

Our dinner cooked over an open fire in a cauldron, suspended on three legged stand with a hook and chain. We laughed and chatted as the dinner cooked and woodsmoke filled the air. The horses grazed on the mountain pasture in happy contentment. We were miles from anywhere in these remote but beautiful mountains. We built up the fire to keep the bears and wolves away from the horses. Finally it was time to go to bed and as I turned away from the fire I noticed a fast rising mist from the damp grass, which was creepily eerie in the early moonlight. The surrounding forest was black now and silent as the mist was starting to reach the lower branches. I flicked on my torch and scrabbled into my tent, zipping it up tightly to keep the cold and damp from coming in. I got into my sleeping bag which was comforting and warm. As I lay quietly the sound of distant howling wolves started to fill the night. My ears went on to high alert, as I listened for any movement around the tents. Are vampires and werewolves silent? I don’t know. My mind started re-running spooky movies. What should I do? The howling wolves finally stopped but did that mean they had moved closer or further away? Finally I slept.
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