Everything You Need to Know about Horseback Expeditions

When you’re imagining your next adventurous holiday, you’re probably thinking about climbing mountains, exploring unknown landscapes and being fully submerged in the wilderness. 

Well why not picture doing all of that, whilst on horseback? Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? 

Horseback expeditions are a kind of travel experience that is now increasing in popularity, as you don’t only get to explore a new destination freely, but you can also do it quicker whilst learning new skills. 

Numerous locations across the globe offer horseback expeditions, whether this is trekking through Mongolia or more leisurely rides along the beach. Whatever type of horse riding holiday you are looking for, there is an experience out there for everyone! 

If you want to know more about horseback riding holidays, or are looking to plan your next thrilling expedition, we have all the information you need below! 

What is a Horseback Expedition?

A horseback expedition is pretty much what the name says it is. You get to explore new places and travel across a wide range of landscapes, all whilst on horseback. 

Horseback expeditions, or horseback holidays, are great ways to see places quicker and are perfect for those who love horse riding or just want to learn a new skill. It can be a challenging kind of holiday if you’ve never ridden before, but also is a fantastic way to feel closer to nature on your travels and choose a more sustainable option for getting from one place to another.

The difference between horseback holidays and expeditions is that an expedition usually requires more training as they are generally more strenuous. Horseback holidays tend to be calmer, more like leisurely beach rides, rather than a trek up the side of a mountain!  

Exploring the world on horseback is a feeling like no other. You get a different perspective of your surroundings while travelling by horse, as you are higher up and have to focus less on walking and more on the environment around you. 

Whether you are looking to explore outstanding glaciers, impressive deserts, or mighty mountains, there are horseback expeditions to suit all kinds of travellers.

What Type of Rider Do I Need to Be? 

When deciding to go on a horseback holiday, the level of experience required will come down to the type of trip you are looking for. 

Many types of horseback holidays are suited for new riders, which happen at a much slower pace and can be done whilst on a safety rope. However, a good level of fitness is always beneficial when getting on a horse, or you might find you will be a bit sore the next day! 

If you are more of an adrenaline junkie and seeking a thrill, then a horseback expedition will be right up your street. For expeditions on horseback, a slightly higher level of riding experience is required. 

As riding expeditions can be over a few days or weeks and tend to be on more rugged terrain, a few riding lessons beforehand would help you feel more confident in the saddle. Knowing the basics of position, holding reins, stirrup placement and control will all ensure that you are riding safely when out adventuring. 

Confidence and a positive attitude are also very important when deciding to embark on a horseback holiday. Horses are large powerful animals with a mind of their own, so not everything always goes to plan. These impressive animals can also sense fear, which in turn can make them feel fearful, so it is always best to remain calm in any riding situation.

Usually, horseback holidays are undertaken by those who are fairly new to riding, so you don’t need to worry about going out and buying a horse in order to partake in this type of trip. But, as with a lot of activities, safety first is always best, so gaining a basic understanding of how to ride will only help you feel more comfortable whilst on your journey. 

Choosing Your Horseback Holiday 

With so many types of horseback holidays out there, it can seem a little overwhelming when deciding which one to choose. To help with this, below is a breakdown of some of the different horse riding holiday types.

  • Expeditions

As mentioned above, horseback expeditions are generally more strenuous and aren’t for the faint-hearted! They usually take place over at least a couple of days and may require you to carry all of your luggage on your horse as well as yourself.

When preparing for a horseback expedition, planning is essential. You will need to be prepared for all types of weather and sleeping arrangements, as many expeditions camp along the way. You won’t usually be roughing it however; most travel companies that offer horseback expeditions ensure that their guests are as comfortable as possible.

  • Beach Riding Trips

There are many beach riding holidays available both in the UK and further afield. These are great for riders that are looking for a more leisurely travel experience, plus the sand will cushion any falls! 

Beach horseback riding holidays allow you and your horse to stroll along the sandy shoreline and take in all the stunning coastline views. They can range from trips on horseback lasting several hours to longer holidays, where horseback riding on the beach will be just one activity on your itinerary.

It is important to bear in mind that some beach riding trips require you to bring your own horse, whereas others provide horses and guides to ride out with. There are options out there for all levels of experience, allowing everyone to enjoy how it feels to gallop across a beach with the wind in your hair.

  • Centre-based Riding Holidays

Centre-based riding holidays are perfect for beginners who have never done a horseback holiday before, as they often include riding lessons as part of the itinerary and are much slower paced than expeditions.

Riding centres usually guide guests on everything you need to know about handling a horse, starting with tacking up and how to mount and dismount, which then leads to going out on treks. Rides on centre-based holidays tend to be much shorter than that of horseback expeditions, as you go out and explore and then head back to the centre to stay in your accommodation. 

This type of horse riding holiday is also great if you are looking for a group trip. The guides generally take you out in a pack, so it is perfect for those looking for an experience with friends or family.  

  • Ranch Holidays

Ranch holidays were the original horseback riding holidays and are a great way to experience western riding firsthand. There is a misconception that ranch holidays are only US-based, but this is not true as many experiences can now be enjoyed around the world. 

This type of horseback holiday is very similar to centre-based riding holidays, but the main difference is that you get to ride like a true cowboy! Usually, ranch holidays also have other activities to do whilst staying with them, including hiking, fishing and trail riding, plus the chance to get involved in the day to day ranch duties. 

If you are looking to ride and live like a cowboy, then a ranch holiday would be a perfect choice! 

Where Can You Travel for Horseback Expeditions?

As horseback expeditions become more popular, the range of locations offering this kind of travel experience has grown as well. Choosing where to travel for horseback holidays will all depend on what type of experience you are looking for. 

Some countries offer better packages for beginners, whereas others are more trying and focus on expeditions that need a good level of riding experience. Below is a list of countries where you can travel for horseback expeditions and what type of excursions they generally offer. 

  • Horseback Riding in Mongolia

Horseback riding through Mongolia offers a true expedition. As you trek through the foothills of the Altai mountains and wander through Mongolia’s national parks, you have many opportunities to take in the incredible surrounding scenery. 

Expeditions in Mongolia are usually over a few days and sometimes can last for a week or so, depending on how long you want to explore. Riders who want to take the trip to Mongolia will need to have a good riding ability and confidence in trekking over several days. This is also a great way to embark on an expedition whilst learning from skilled and highly knowledgeable local guides.

  • Horseback Riding in South Africa

Horseback riding in South Africa is the perfect way to explore the plains and see some of the country’s famous wildlife up close. With treks through forests, along beaches and a number of other diverse terrains, there is plenty to see when choosing to travel on a horse in South Africa. 

  • Horseback Riding in France

France offers many different types of horseback holidays. Whether you are looking for beach rides, stunning countryside treks or shorter centre-based holidays, you can find something for everyone here. The laid back atmosphere and romantic scenery make France a great location to ride out on horseback with a partner whilst on holiday, and this is also a great option if you’re looking for a more luxurious experience, as many centre-based holidays also treat guests to some of the country’s finest food and drink. 

  • Horseback Riding in Italy

Italy doesn’t just impress with its amazing cuisine, stunning scenery and laid back way of living. It’s also a great destination for those who are looking for horseback adventures. Regions like Tuscany and Puglia are ideal for horseback riding holidays, allowing guests to see the beautiful landscapes from up high and enjoy the peace of the Italian countryside.

Preparing for Your Horseback Expedition

It is important when considering a horseback expedition that you prepare properly. Some horseback trails can last for a few days or even weeks. Making sure you have enough clothing, plus the right gear to ride comfortably will make your journey much more enjoyable. 

Clothing

Safety comes first on horseback, which means you must have a helmet or riding hat during your trip. The majority of companies do provide these for their guests, but it is always best to check beforehand. 

Next up are boots. You want to ensure that you have comfortable boots on, typically ones that are calf length. This ensures that you are not only comfortable while riding, but you also have sturdy, waterproof shoes on for other activities such as hiking. 

Gloves are a must when spending hours in the saddle. Your hands can become sore and cold if you are sitting in the same position and holding reins for long periods of time, so gloves are great for comfort whilst on a journey. 

Many riders also choose to wear chaps. This is to protect the leg from prolonged contact with the horse. You can either choose full or half chaps, depending on the type of expedition you are doing. However, if you have chosen to go for longer boots, chaps won’t be a necessity. 

Spending 6-7 hours a day riding can become pretty uncomfortable if you are not in the right clothing. We recommend getting a pair of jodhpurs or breeches, which are designed for regular riding and more comfortability. 

Other Items 

Alongside your riding gear and clothing, you want to ensure that you pack all other essential items as you would for any other trip. Things like toiletries, medication, waterproofs, dry clothing, and warm layers are all great to take on an expedition. You will naturally tailor your packing list to the country that you are visiting, depending on weather conditions. 

It is useful to bear in mind that if you choose to go for a horseback expedition, you will likely be carrying any luggage with you whilst on your journey, whether that be you or the horse carrying your bags. We recommend that you try to pack as light as possible in order not to slow the pack down and keep your horse happy!

Summary 

After reading all of our top tips, you can hopefully now start planning your next horseback adventure with all the necessary information in mind. Horseback expeditions and holidays are an ideal way to combine learning something new with a trip to a new destination, and are particularly good for travellers that love animals and being in the great outdoors.

Some of the links on this page are affiliate links, which means we can earn a small commission when our visitors click on them. This helps us to keep our content free and accessible for everyone, but you’ll never be charged for engaging with them.