Sightseeing from a Different Perspective
For those of you who like to travel in depth and see the most beautiful and unspoiled parts of the countries you visit; adventure travel on horseback has huge advantages. Equestrian vacations offer a chance to practice a sport which has been very popular with mankind for centuries and at the same time to reach out of the way places seldom visited by other tourists. Trips on horseback are leisurely, contemplative experiences and you are not rushing from place to place at great speed on super highways, but moving at a slower place which allows time to study the country you traverse. Walking or biking can also provide the opportunity for travel in depth, but you have to pay attention to where you are going constantly and can’t be looking around as much as you can while sitting on the back of a reliable horse. Another advantage of travel on horseback is that it offers the companionship of an equine friend as well as that of your fellow travelers. A common love of horses also forms a bond between you and the local people you encounter including your guides.
If you have a sense of history, equestrian travel is very much in keeping with the past since most people who could afford them used horses to get from place to place as fast and as comfortably as they could until very recently. Strategically placed relay stations were used to provide fresh mounts and offer overnight accommodations and if you are traveling in France, you will find that many restaurants and inns often have the name “relais” or relay because that is why they originally existed. The purest form of travel on horseback is to ride through wilderness areas with pack horses to carry the equipment. This is how the early European visitors to the American West moved and it is still possible to take pack trips through remote, unspoiled wilderness areas in the Rocky Mountains. On those adventures you are with your horses night and day and are totally dependent on them so that a strong bond often forms.
Most interesting and exciting of all is a horse safari in African big game country where there are elephant, zebra, giraffe and lion to mention a few. Your horse will share your interest in the wild game you view and will react with enthusiasm to a race with the zebra or wildebeest. You also have time to study the less obvious creatures; the birds, the butterflies and the subtle variations of vegetation.
A horseback riding holiday in a new place can also broaden your knowledge of riding techniques and other types of horses. On Equitours trips you can learn to ride a tolting Icelandic or a gaited Peruvian Horse and practice piaffe and passage on an Andalusian stallion. You will also see different saddles, bridles, padding and ways of training. Exposure to other ways of riding will help you take a fresh look at what you are doing at home and give you new perspectives.
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By Bayard Fox