Most riding tours last about a week covering 100 to 200 miles, usually on the same horse, so that the speed has to be limited in order not to overtire the horses. There is more walking than trotting and varying the pace with the occasional canter adds zest to the experience for riders and their horses alike.
It is important that all participants have sufficient ability to keep up with the group safely to avoid slowing the pace for everyone. Usually a set distance must be covered each day and the next night’s destination cannot be reached on many rides without some canters. Of course the terrain determines what speed the ride can go. This is why Equitours tries hard to match people to the rides which are appropriate for their ability.
One of the rides where people can really move out at times is the Masai Mara in Kenya where there are often opportunities to have an exciting race with zebra, giraffe or wildebeest. The same is true of the rides in Tanzania where the terrain is often appropriate for long, fast canters on the vast plains which are often teaming with wildlife. They are in remote areas where you will see no other tourists. One of the speediest rides is the 250 mile stretch across the arid beauty of the Namib Desert to the sea where the fascinating vegetation and wildlife are well adapted to the austere conditions. Riders often trot and canter, but it does not push as though it were a serious endurance race. On the Golden Sands of Agadir ride in Morocco you can ride along the uninhabited Atlantic beach on splendid Arab/Barb stallions and mares offering great terrain for speed. The same horses will also carry you on the Royal Cities from Meknes to the city of Fez with its walled medina and medieval atmosphere. It traverses the historic heart of the country where fields of wheat and groves of olive trees abound in a verdant landscape. You will also see well preserved ruins from Roman times.
Many parts of the world offer favorable terrain for a fast pace. The Glacier Estancia Ride in extreme southern Chile has some good plains for canters. The Criollo horses do not move at high speed, but are a pleasure to ride for long canters on some days which eat up the miles comfortably. The tall towers surrounded by wisps of swirling clouds in the Torres del Paine National Park are stunning. You will also see the calving glaciers of the southern Andes drop huge chunks of ice into turquoise lakes.
In Europe you have some great chances to open up your horses at good speeds. One of them is on the beaches and through the rich vineyards around Bordeaux’s wine country. Riders can stop at some of the picturesque wineries to taste the product while the horses wait at hitching posts outside as in days of old. Another fast moving ride takes place along Spain’s Mediterranean Coast. On this part of the coast the mountains come right down to meet the sea offering spectacular views. You can have wonderful canters, not only on the beaches, but also through farmland and on forest trails.
No discussion of fast paced rides is complete without highlighting beach rides. On the Boomerang Trail in Australia you have the opportunity to canter for miles if the weather allows. Or in Ireland the Atlantic Coast and Clew Bay all have long stretches of beach for good canters where your horses are enthusiastic about moving out at a good speed. Castle Leslie and Aille Cross have some fast canters too, but the main focus is on jumping.You can find more possible choices from our beach rides around the world.
Some of the fastest paced rides we have taken anywhere have been in Rajasthan where the local Marwari horses compete well in endurance races. The sandy tracks used mostly by camel drawn carts make ideal paths for horses. Riders traverse remote villages where the water hole in the main square is the center of activity and one often sees water buffalo and cows wandering about.
If you want to stay closer to home, an excellent choice would be the Navajoland in Arizona and Utah. The dramatic beauty of this area, adored by film makers, draws tourists from around the world. A thousand years ago it was home to the highly developed Anasazi civilization. You can see the cave dwelling of these people built on the sides of sheer canyon walls which could only be reached by retractable ladders. Another fast moving ride for advanced riders only offers gallops on the wild beaches of the Pacific and beside the famous vineyards of the Willamette Valley.