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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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Holiday Report: Almeria, Spain

June 26th, 2012

Beach riding in AlmeriaAlmeria, Spain, 2012.

Sarah Ritchie, Far and Ride.

In April 2012 I visited our destination in Almeria, Spain, and stayed in both Hotel Cortijo el Sotillo and Apartementos Turisticos Villa Maltesis. Hotel Cortijo el Sotillo is conveniently located close to the village of San Jose and is right next to the Almeria riding centre. The 18th century converted farmhouse is just a short walk from the village. San Jose offers a wide range of good restaurants, local produce in the shops, internet cafes, a tourist office and a bus service to Almería. The hotel rooms are very spacious with plenty of wardrobe space, a sofa and a desk area as well as an area for hanging coats. The bathrooms are also very spacious with a large walk-in bath/shower and a nice selection of complimentary toiletries. Each room also has its own private terrace. The staff are friendly and helpful and always smiling. There is a lovely swimming pool with plenty of sun loungers for those wishing to soak up some sunshine.

Apartamentos Turisticos Villa Maltes is just a short distance away from the stables and ideally suited to families wishing for their own private accommodation or perhaps a self catering option. There are 1, 2 and 3 bedroom apartments available with a kitchen, living room with sofa bed, individual patio and access to the swimming pool. They are air conditioned/heated and also contain a fridge, TV and possibility of adding extra bed. During my stay the restaurant was not yet open but it soon will be with the added option of requesting breakfast to be brought to you in your apartment.
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Holiday Report: Country and Beach Getaway, Sardinia

May 26th, 2012

Holly and TatanaCountry and Beach Getaway, Sardinia, 2012.

Holly Anthony, Far and Ride.

“Galoppo!”

In May 2012, Holly from Far and Ride took the opportunity to visit the Country and Beach Getaway in Sardinia. This riding holiday destination is a remote country hotel offering a selection of riding packages to suit all levels. The horses graze freely in the hotel’s beautiful gardens during the day and the destination is a haven for both the horse lover and indeed the horses themselves. With the opportunity for lessons and various rides out (meadows, mountains, beach and gardens!) as well as a full trail programme from the mountains to the sea, all guests can improve their riding and enjoy the stunning and peaceful surroundings. Sardinia is often overlooked by riders but as it turns out, it’s a true horse island!

Holly’s visit was part of a special weekend as we market this destination. She was able to take part in an especially long ride, created to show as much of the land from the trail programme as possible, as well as enjoy a shorter ride from the hotel’s second paddocks on the coastline. She also took the time to enjoy the facilities, food and of course the company of new friends! Below are her thoughts on this wonderful rural retreat.
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Holiday Report: Moorland Cattle Drives and Trail Rides, England

May 17th, 2012

Holly riding RockMoorland Cattle Drives and Trail Rides, England, 2012.

Holly Anthony, Far and Ride.

“Ideal!”

Holly from Far and Ride recently returned from a long weekend of riding in Dartmoor, driving cattle and trail riding across the beautiful, open moorland. Although this part of England is acknowledged as offering excellent riding terrain, the chance of working with cattle from horseback is rare in this part of the world with most travelling to the far fields of Wyoming or Montana in order to fulfill their cowboy dreams. Phil and his family can offer genuine, hands-on cattle work at their farm in south-west England, where you are guaranteed a warm welcome and can enjoy the company of the numerous cattle, sheep, horses and dogs on site. A typical week combines a few days of cattle work and some superb trail riding opportunities, making the most of this rural setting.
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Holiday Report: Gaucho Experience, Brazil

April 13th, 2012

Hans on a Palomino horse Gaucho Experience, Brazil, 2012.

Hans H.

As promised, here is a full comment on my stay in Brazil from 18 – 25 March 2012.

This was an absolutely amazing holiday! The riding was intense – I certainly got very tired – but the countryside was lovely and the local people wonderful.

Of course, being the only foreigner there, I did not have a standard itinerary, so I suppose that my comments can’t be taken as a reflection of the typical experience. In some cases we did things and went to places that they said they could not do with a bigger party – either because it might be difficult with several people or because it was impossible to get a van there to prepare food. I made clear to them at the start that I had no expectations in terms of food – “I eat what you eat, I drink what you drink” – so at times we ate simply from saddle bags (although being gauchos they still had a habit of making a fire and cooking meat – I just helped gather up some firewood).
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Holiday Report: Kiskunsagi Ranch, Hungary

April 12th, 2012

Kiskunsagi Ranch, Hungary, 2012.

Sue Woodbine, Far and Ride.

I’ve just returned from my first trip to Hungary and I was not sure what to expect… what a wonderful adventure it turned out to be! Accompanied by Stephen, my non-rider husband who is also a Director of Far and Ride, I visited our Western Ranch situated in Kiskunsagi Park which is about 80km from Budapest. Ida met us at the airport and we drove the scenic route to the ranch (this was not intentional but it was fun!). The countryside during the journey was very pleasant but flat and unexceptional. However, once we were near the ranch the countryside totally changed beyond recognition – this area is basically known as the Hungarian desert as there is sand underfoot for miles! I got out of the car and was struck by how peaceful and tranquil the ranch was… this feeling remained for the whole of our stay and is difficult to describe unless you have been there yourself. The pace of life is so different and offers a great way to escape from hectic lives back at home.
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