Farm Stay programme, Summer 2006
My holiday to Cyprus was to be, not only an introduction to the beautiful island, but also to the sport of horse riding. Yes, I had been on a couple of pony trekking trips in Scotland but had yet to master the control of a stead!
Thanks the help of the team at Far and Ride I chose a holiday for beginners at the Drapia Farm near Tochni village – which is outside Limassol. I arrived in Tochni Taverna and pool in the village of Tochni to begin my half board activity holiday. Tochni is a lovely, sleepy, old village with small narrow streets. It has a mix of both Cypriot & Turkish buildings and a friendly well stocked supermarket. The self catering apartments are positioned on the hill above the village making it an ideal vantage point to look out from whilst sitting on the terrace whilst enjoying al fresco dining. The moderate sized pool gives an ideal area to relax in the sun, or shade & cool off with a few lengths before enjoying more delicious food, and possibly a small Metaxa brandy, at the taverna.
My riding experience began at 9am on Monday morning, after a delicious buffet breakfast on the terrace. I was collected from my accommodation & taken to Drapia farm where I was introduced to Montana – a beautiful Arabian horse, which I was told needed a firm hand. I and a German tourist were taken on a 2 hour hack in the surrounding countryside. It was surprisingly hot so early in the day – but I was told that it gets even warmer in August! We headed out on the hack but the horse quickly showed me who was boss & we stopped at every piece of grass and his favourite the carob tree. This was still fun as I learnt that horses really need to be shown who is boss and also they can tell if you are experienced or not!
The rest of my day was easily filled with reading and lazing in the sun. this was followed by a dinner of fresh, local fish and vegetables and a nice Cypriot white wine. A great start to my holiday.
Today I had a lesson, not on Montana, but on a gorgeous horse called Veronous at 16.3 hands was stunning. This horse was owned by the young Swiss girl teaching on the farm and was a joy to ride. Within the hour I was beginning to trot in the arena – must remember to squeeze my knees. In the afternoon I organised a hire car from the main office at the accommodation in order to see a bit of Cyprus while I am here.
Today I had been asked to have my lesson at 5pm – as it has been so warm during the day, so a leisurely day at the pool. Today I met a different teacher, from Austria. A different teaching style but I progressed again on the trot, got quicker and controlled the horse better.
Today I was scheduled for a late lesson so a full day to get out in the car and look around Cyprus. Headed off early and my first atop was Akitouri, near a salt lake. Enjoyed a Cypriot coffee & headed on again. Next stop was Koutoni – an archaeology site and containing Gladiators houses and the House of Achilles – I couldn’t help but think of Brad Pitt at this point. The surroundings were beautiful with crystal blue waters, glorious sunshine & pale yellow beaches. I can see why the Gladiator’s would have chosen such a great spot. My last stop on my mini tour was Petre tou Romiou (Aphrodites birthplace). It is an arrangement of three rocks in the sea where she is said to have emerged. Again the colour of the water was breath taking. It was hard to follow that but my lesson went really well and I progressed onto standing trot and held onto the Western style saddle as Veronous cantered around the arena – great feeling.
Today I was out early and headed out to the Toorodos Mountains. It was a cool relief from the usual heat of sea level. The scenery was markedly different too as it was tree-lined and so much greener than lower levels. Stopped for a Cypriot coffee in the hills and then headed back to the Taverna to swim before my lesson.
I can’t believe this is my last day riding, it has passed so quickly but I have learnt so much. Today we went on a hack and I was reunited with Montana. Even he could tell that my riding ability had improved. It was a great ride and my trotting and control was working well. However, we then began to canter and Montana shot off at great speed. I tried to hold on but I lost the stirrups & came off. Although quite a shock at the time I was told all horse riders have a falling-off story so I have mine already. In true John Wayne style I got back on the horse and we continued on with the hack.
Overall, this was a great location, with the option of heading into the lively town of Limassol or just enjoying the tranquil surroundings of Tochni. This was a great first experience of horse riding and I would choose a Far and Ride holiday again as I would love, one day, to ride with the real cowboys.
Read more about this ride here: Farm Stay programme