For nature and horse riding enthusiasts, horseback riding is another way to discover our regions, but also other countries on other continents. And this despite a beginner level.
Almost every country in the world can be explored on horseback. From the steppes of Mongolia, to the Argentine pampas, from the Sahara to the African savannah, without forgetting Europe, and of course, France. To go on horseback, it is necessary to be a rider, that is to say to control his horse at the three gaits. This level is very accessible with a little practice. All it takes is a few lessons on the riding school, in an equestrian centre, a weekend of preparation or refresher training. Here are some tips to prepare well.
Define your equestrian level and choose your hike
On horseback, we are considered beginner if you have never ridden, or only very occasionally, on a ride, during holidays, for example, and if you have never taken a lesson. “For these profiles, we will rather recommend star formulas in order to favor a minimum of comfort. In case of fatigue, riders have the possibility to stop whenever they wantexplains Phoebé Perdreau, director and co-founder of the Caval & Go agency, which specializes in equestrian tourism. ” NOTWe have in the catalog horseback riding initiation weekends in the Médocinitiations tohorseback riding in Andalusiaand in Corsica .”
The horseman initiated rides horses occasionally but has already taken some riding lessons. Of an average level, he has not ridden for a long time but masters the three gaits outdoors.
The horseman intermediate rides and takes riding lessons quite regularly. He is comfortable walking, trotting and galloping outdoors. In good physical condition, he can stay in the saddle for several hours at a stretch. This is the level you need to participate in a hike lasting several days without being in difficulty. And there are ways to indulge yourself, like with this horseback ride in Mozambique, between the sea, lagoons and sand dunes or this circuit in Egypt on horseback from the pyramids to the Red Sea.
Finally, the rider confirmed has an equestrian level equivalent to at least gallop 4 and is able to control his horse outdoors in all circumstances. He can sign up for a hike at a brisk pace, with long stages. To him the raid from Périgord to the Atlantic coast, between castles and vineyards or the safari on horseback in Tanzania in the footsteps of the elephants of Kilimanjaro.
“Like on foot, horseback riding requires good physical condition. There are different types of hikes with varying levels of difficulty. It is good to find out about the terrain, the climatic conditions, the altitude, the duration of the stages and the general conditions of the trip, such as the accommodation conditions “says Phoebe Perdreau.
How to choose your trail horse
A good touring horse is far from being a simple “nice cushy”. He is a versatile, calm and dynamic partner. Horses are allocated according to the level and equestrian skills of the riders. Sure-footed athletes, they are generally attentive to their rider, sociable and able to walk for hours in difficult terrain, sleep tethered, withstand crushing heat as well as low temperatures, driving rains, mosquitoes and other insects. In short, they are hiking warriors. Depending on the destination, it is possible to discover local breeds, which have long been adapted to the region’s climate and terrain. Many of them still live in semi-freedom and in herds the rest of the year. These local mounts offer an exceptional equestrian experience such as the Mongolian horse, small and stocky, the Marwari of Rajasthan with its head high and curved ears, or the Mérens, stocky horse of the Pyrenees.
Hiking rhymes with freedom, which is why you have to opt for an outfit in which you are comfortable. Horseback riding involves a longer time on horseback than a simple ride of a few hours, so avoid new equipment. It is better to choose clothes that you are used to wearing. It would be a shame to start an expedition with blisters and burns. As in hiking, it is important to adapt your outfit to the weather conditions: choose clothes that dry quickly, when you leave for several days. On horseback, you need to be able to change fairly quickly, especially in the mountains. Always provide a raincoat, long enough, a cape or a poncho, to protect the thighs.
To be comfortable, it is best to opt for pants such as riding breeches, gardian pants or jeans – but without inseams. Jeans with thick seams or joggers that are too thin are to be avoided. You have to think about adapting your underwear as well. A thong or boxer shorts can ruin a hike.
To find the right person
For the majority of hikes, you can wear light hiking shoes or boots with mini-chaps (kind of gaiters that you wear on your calf). If possible, take waterproof shoes.
- Our advice:avoid riding boots which can be uncomfortable to wear for a long time, especially if they are made of rubber.
Freedom on horseback must rhyme with safety. It is imperative to wear a riding helmet (or a helmet). It can protect both during a fall and a low branch. Most of the time, it is provided by the horse rental company or the organizer of the trek.
They are essential to protect the hands from friction with the reins, blisters, sunburn or insect bites. Choose a non-slip and breathable model so as not to sweat in it.
On horseback, you should avoid carrying anything on your back, at the risk of adopting a bad position and hurting yourself. You have to put as many things as possible in your jacket pockets or in the saddlebags (the cast iron ones) provided for this purpose, attached to the back of the saddle.
Think about making sure
Taking insurance before departure is not optional. The insurance of the credit card used for payment may, depending on the contract taken out, cover cancellation and repatriation, but you must inquire, because horse riding is considered a risky sport and may not be not covered.
As a member of the French Equestrian Federation (FFE), if you are in a club or a stable, there are insurance offers such as Civil Liability and Individual Rider Insurance.
A physical training
“So that our customers enjoy their stay on horseback from the first day, we advise them, a little before their departure, even if they have a very good level, to spend a day on horseback outdoors to reactivate certain reflexes and remove any form of apprehension “, explains Phoebe Perdreau. All you have to do is choose your destination.