#TBT: 7 Riding Vacations You Need to Take This Summer

Forget the dude ranches and one-horse-fits-all beach rides — these vacations are designed to challenge equestrians of all disciplines, all around the world.

Summertime is here — for many of us, that means horse shows and trail riding, more daylight hours to spend with our horses, and hopefully some time for a summer vacation. If relaxing on the beach or in the mountains leaves you thirsting for a little more adventure, a company called Equitours has got you covered — think of it like an international riding travel agency. Check out these equestrian trips and find the perfect one for you:

For the Bold: Ireland

Jumping a stone wall on one of many available cross-country courses in Ireland. Photo courtesy of Equitours.

Jumping a stone wall on one of many available cross-country courses in Ireland.
Photo courtesy of Equitours.

The Irish have a reputation for their fox hunting with some hunts enjoying global fame. The Aille Cross Country Ride combines the experience of hunting with the Galway Blazers (in season) with the opportunity to jump a variety of cross-country fields. Non-jumpers can hack across fields, forests and hills as well. The horses are all experienced hunters and riders are assessed on the first day of the week-long trip to be matched with suitable mounts.

Self-guided along the trail in County Donegal. Photo courtesy of Equitours.

Self-guided along the trail in County Donegal.
Photo courtesy of Equitours.

Hunting and jumping not quite your style? You can also enjoy Ireland with a test of your horsemanship and orienteering with the Beaches, Dunes and Trails ride in Donegal, which outfits riders with a horse, a map and an itinerary for an unguided week around the county. Four to six hours in the saddle daily will bring you from town to town to stay at authentic bed and breakfasts (complete with accommodations for the horses as well).

For the Foodie: Italy

Riding around the Castello di Tocchi in Italy. Photo courtesy of Equitours.

Riding around the Castello di Tocchi in Italy.
Photo courtesy of Equitours.

What could be better than riding all day through the beautiful Italian countryside and returning to a castle for evenings of elaborate meals and fine wine? The trip itinerary for the Feast of the Conquerors ride mixes up day rides from the Castello di Tocchi with point-to-point trips to surrounding villages and farms for special food tastings, including the cuisines of Tuscany, Siena and Sardinia. A special trip extension is possible as well when the season is appropriate for riders to experience the running of the famous Il Palio horse race and festival.

For the Adventurous: Tanzania

Giraffes outside of a bush camp along Lake Natron. Photo courtesy of Equitours.

Giraffes outside of a bush camp along Lake Natron.
Photo courtesy of Equitours.

If you’ve ever dreamed of going on safari — but without the hunting-of-large-game part — this is trip for you. Riders move around Lake Natron in Tanzania from camp to camp, experiencing firsthand the wildlife of Africa while enjoying the thrills of fast canters along the plains. One of the more intense rides in terms of pace, hours in the saddle and miles covered, this riding safari regularly encounters zebras, giraffes, wildebeest, hyenas, jackals and gazelles, as well as meeting Masai herdsmen tending their cattle. An experienced bush chef cooks up meals at each camp to keep riders well-fueled for intense riding. This safari also includes two optional four-day non-riding extensions to continue the experience: relax and explore the island of Zanzibar, or continue your safari experience by driving through Serengeti National Park.

For the Free Spirit: Mongolia

Pausing for a rest in a Mongolian valley. Photo courtesy of Equitours.

Pausing for a rest in a Mongolian valley.
Photo courtesy of Equitours.

For a truly exotic experience, head to Mongolia, where riders trek across the countryside for about a week setting up overnight camps. Notable destinations along the route include Karakorum, an ancient capital city with a still-standing monastery, and Orkhon Waterfall, surrounded by ancient monuments. The second week of the experience includes the Nadaam festival in Ulaanbaatar, featuring Mongolia’s three national sports of wrestling, archery and horse racing.

For Your Inner Cowboy/Cowgirl: Wyoming

Riding beneath Castle Rock in Shoshone National Forest, Wyoming. Photo courtesy of Equitours.

Riding beneath Castle Rock in Shoshone National Forest, Wyoming.
Photo courtesy of Equitours.

The Bitterroot Ranch outside of Dubois, Wyoming offers a variety of experiences, from summer cattle drives to week-long pack trips into the most remote forest in the continental United States. Not your typical western dude ranch, the Bitterroot caters specifically to horseback riders; guests are given three or four horses for their personal string all week long that match each individual rider’s experience level. Ride routes travel out from the ranch valley into a variety of public lands, including high sagebrush plains, red-rock canyons and dense alpine forests. In the summer and autumn seasons, rides may get the opportunity to move cattle to new grazing allotments in the forest or try their hand at team sorting. There’s even a cross-country jumping course for advanced riders. The ranch herd includes both stock breeds and home-bred Arabians.

For a Little Bit of Everything: Argentina

Learning to play polo at Estancia Los Potreros. Photo courtesy of Equitours.

Learning to play polo at Estancia Los Potreros.
Photo courtesy of Equitours.

Estancia Los Potreros of Argentina may be the end-all of equestrian vacations: this 6000-acre working cattle ranch possesses a herd of 120 ranch-trained horses for 12-14 guests at a time. A relaxed format means guests can stay as long as they wish and ride up to twice a day, or simply hang out at the ranch and enjoy the grounds. Guests can work alongside the gauchos, herding cattle and horses, and also try their hand at polo (for which Argentina is quite famous!) Trail rides and picnic rides travel over varied terrain and can also include things like gaucho games or stopping by a swimming hole for a few hours. The ranch-reared horses — some of which are gaited — are reported to handle just like a personal riding horse and are personable and friendly. Overall, this ride offers the best of Argentina for everyone.

Go on vacation — and go riding!

#ThrowbackThursday: 5 Horses Farting

Because flatulence is always hilarious.

Early in 2015, when this collection was first published, the latest internet sensation was Archy the farting horse. Archy was a rescue with intestinal issues, hence the need to roll and fart. Let’s take a look.

But Archy is hardly the first equine full of hot air. There’s the classic ringside passing of gas.

Communal Zen Flatulence.

Will fart for Bud Light?

And, last but not least, the dreaded Toot ‘n Spook.

Does your horse let one rip now and then? HN wants those funny videos!

Go Riding!

#ThrowbackThursday: Retro Weird Horse News

Rescues and runaways, bees and barrels, and quite the to-do over horses wearing hats. No. Really.

Originally published by Lorraine Jackson in October of 2014, this story highlighted some of the weirdest yet true horse news tidbits from history. They’re still just as entertaining/curious/bizarre as they were in 2014 … or 1914.

All newspaper excerpts are public domain, via Google Newspapers.

A Frisky Mine Horse
Cumberland Evening Times, 4 April 1908

Cumberland Evening Times, 4 April 1908

“One of the Coney mine horses got friskey Thursday and ran away. He took a notion to loop the loop and got out on the George’s Creek trestle and walked over it about 30 feet before he went through it. It was with much difficulty that he was extracted”

Oh. Oh, how I wish there had been a picture.

Something Like a Runaway
Harrisburg Telegraph, 26 Jan 1877

Harrisburg Telegraph, 26 Jan 1877

“A runaway team on Wednesday turned the corner at the National Hotel, and both horses fell, one of top of the other, and a passer-by promptly sat down on the head of the upper horse, thus effectively holding both horses down. A man coming up the street yelled, ‘Hold that horse’s head down.’ A man turned the corner and yelled ‘Hold that horse’s head down.’ Then a man ran out of the hotel and promptly rejoined, ‘Hold that horse’s head down.’ and by the time that horse’s head had been held down till each succeeding man had repeated the same admonition, and a crowd had collected large enough to unhitch the sleigh and unloose the harness, that horse was completely disgusted with running off.”

The Takeaway: You know how when you ask for training advice on Facebook, you get the same weird comment OVER AND OVER again? This is like that, but in person.

A Battle With Bees
The Chanute Daily Tribune 18 of July 1908

The Chanute Daily Tribune 18 of July 1908

“Lola, Kans., July 18 – C. C. Ausherman, a candidate for the Republican nomination for county treasurer, passed through an experience Saturday afternoon with a swarm of bees which will furnish no abundance of food for thought among those interested in bee culture. Mr. Ausherman was at the Archer home, south of Moran, and had tied his horse in front of the residence while he walked to one of the fields to talk to Mr. Archer. When he returned to the buggy, a swarm of bees were making an effort to swarm on the horse’s head. Mr. Aushcerman secured an apron from Mrs. Archer, which he placed over his head and proceeded to help the horse in its battle with the bees but the bees were too many in number to be fought off with bare hands. However, they were finally driven away by burning a bundle of old rags about the animal’s head.

“The horse’s head, neck, and shoulders are considerably swollen as a result of the numerous stings received and the tongue so badly swollen that is almost impossible for the animal to close its jaws. Mr. Ausherman stated that unless blood poison set in the horse would suffer no permanent injury.”

Length of a Horse’s Head
The Intelligencer of South Carolina, 28 Oct 1896

The Intelligencer of South Carolina, 28 Oct 1896

“It is probable that at first thought most persons would be inclined to doubt the accuracy of the old saying that a horse’s head is as long as a flour barrel. Flour barrels vary somewhat in length. Some are made stouter and shorter, some slender and a little higher. An average flour barrel is about twenty-nine inches in height. A man to whom the old saying was familiar made up his mind to see for himself just how near right it was, and he measured the heads of three horses. One of these horses was said to have a rather large head for its size; it wasn’t a very big horse. The horse’s head exclusive of the ears, measured 28 inches in length. The heads of the two other horses, which were horses of fair average size, with average heads, measured, one 27 inches, the other 271/2 inches. So that this investigator discovered that the old saying was substantially true.”

Wow. I’m so glad someone finally cleared up one of the greatest mysteries of human and equine history in such a scientific manner, because that’s been bothering me for DECADES.

A Horse’s Adventure in a Deserted Shaft
The Inter Ocean Chicago, 27 Oct 1877

The Inter Ocean Chicago, 27 Oct 1877

“Over three weeks ago a gentleman living in the Third Ward missed a pony, and, after a long search, gave it up as stolen. Twenty days after the loss of the animal a number of children were playing in some old deserted shafts, when, upon looking into one about six feet deep, a horse, reduced to a mere skeleton, was found. Their discovery was soon made known, and in a few minutes a number of miners collected at the spot and soon had the poor animal on the top of the ground. The person who had lost his pony so long before recognized his property in the emaciated animal before him. For twenty-five days had the animal been in that shaft without food and water, and from appearances it could not have held out many more. It had eaten all the hair from its sides and tail, which, if any, was all the nourishment it had got during that long period. After being taken out it commenced to eat, though it could scarcely stand on its feet. The animal is gaining rapidly in flesh, and it will soon be as strong and useful as before its strange adventure. –Joplin News.”

I have a few things to say about this: A) either we don’t make them like we used to, or your pony doesn’t really need five feedings per day plus supplements or B) on a non-horse related note, “A NUMBER OF CHILDREN WERE PLAYING IN SOME OLD DESERTED SHAFTS” — we clearly don’t make children like we used to, either.

Sun Bonnets for Horses

And finally, a turn-of-the-century controversy about Equine Sun Bonnets. Apparently, they became all the rage in 1890s France, and they varied from simple straw structures with holes for the ears to elaborate top hats and feathered masterpieces that rivaled any Las Vegas showgirl. Behold some of the goodness:

Alton Evening Telegraph 23 Oct 1897

Alton Evening Telegraph, 1897


By 1902, the Leavenworth Times had picked up the story with tremendous mockery, stating “All the concentrated warmth of the universe seems to be pouring down on a horse’s head as he staggers along the city’s streets, but life is made worth living only when one can make something of an impression.” The accompanying sketches of the supposed French fad are priceless:

Leavenworth Times 1903 showgirl hat



Leavenworth Times 1902 Mockery of Paris Sun Bonnets



in mockery of paris Leavenworth Times 1902



But if only the author of this great French Mockery could have known…the earliest confirmed patent of an equine sun bonnet was in 1870, by AMERICAN, J. Anderson:

Sketch: Courtesy of the U.S. Patent Office

Sketch: Courtesy of the U.S. Patent Office

What’s the statute of limitations on requiring one to eat crow?

Go Horses.

#TBT: 7 Problems Only Tall Riders Will Understand

“You must play basketball!” No, I’m just a lowly horseback rider, thanks.

With my boots on, I hover around the 5’11”-6′ mark. My chosen discipline is reined cowhorse, meaning that my mounts are generally no taller than 15 hands. Why couldn’t I have fallen for a discipline requiring a 17-hand warmblood? Because life is cruel. Welcome to my world.


My good friend Chilly on Tiny Tim and me on Brave. Photo by Naomi Thomas.

1. Every horse, regardless of actual measured height, is too small.

It doesn’t matter if it’s 15.2 or 17.3 — prepare yourself for a lifetime of dwarfing impressively-heighted horses into looking like stunted ponies. When you finally find a horse that actually takes up your leg, your torso will still be too long and you’ll wind up looking like a junior on her first real horse. Sure, you might be the world’s best catch-rider but it won’t matter if you always look perpetually out of place.

True story: A group of students from my equestrian program as an undergrad went to work for a weekend at a thoroughbred sale, and a student about my height was only allowed to handle the broodmares — the weanlings all looked like midgets next to her and no prospective buyer wants a tiny racehorse.


Yep, that’s me… on 17-something hand full Belgian. Note that this horse looks TOTALLY NORMAL and not like the giant that he actually is. Photo by Karen Fry.

2. Looking for new tall boots/half chaps? Custom it is.

Yes, they’re expensive for everyone, but when you have to custom or semi-custom just about everything you own, buying new ANYTHING can mean some serious $$$$. In tall boots, I wear a size 11 in tall — and while you might imagine that many tall folks would have big feet, can you ever find that particular combination already stocked at the tack shop? No, of course not — so you ask them to order it, wait for it to ship in, then try it on, and then discover that maybe you’re actually an extra-tall. For years I wore men’s cowboy boots, because the western ladies boots in my size were about three times as expensive as they needed to be. (Does it really cost that much more in leather to cover my giant feet? Thanks, guys.)

Kristine Oakhurst/Flickr/Creative Commons License

Kristine Oakhurst/Flickr/Creative Commons License

3. …which means that you can’t borrow (or loan out) any of your clothing. To anyone. Ever.

I spent my four years of undergrad competing on my university’s western intercollegiate team, and then the next four years coaching the same team. Our teams’ running joke was that we had maybe 10 complete outfits of show clothes among a team of 30-plus riders — we borrowed and swapped from each other all the time, and the hunt seat team was pretty similar. In the western world, it was pretty easy to make size differences work; I loaned my chaps to the other tall riders on the team (of course, they were all men; I was the only Amazon) and you could get away with tucking in a western shirt to fit a smaller torso. On the hunt seat team, however, forget loaning your shirt or your jacket to a teammate if you’re around 5’10” or higher — it just doesn’t work. Snap a zipper right before your class? Better get out the electrical tape and hope the judge doesn’t notice, because ain’t nobody got your boot size.

Carterse/Flickr/Creative Commons License

Carterse/Flickr/Creative Commons License

4. And if you thought custom clothing was bad enough, you’ll need a custom saddle as well.

The photo below is my lovely friend Amelia (5’10”) with her Thoroughbred gelding Anteros “Piccadilly Circus” (17.2). Amelia’s custom saddle was designed to fit both her and Terry (as we call him), since Amelia, like myself, is built like a stork with legs up to here. As Amanda Uechi Ronan outlined in her piece earlier this week on saddle fit, getting the saddle to fit the person is just as challenging as getting it to fit the horse — and Amelia, naturally, required the extra-long flap so that her knees weren’t hanging out in space wishing there was a place for them in this world. The bottom line for this custom job? Over $5,000. (Good thing it fits, and good thing they both look so darn good in it.)

Photo courtesy of Amelia Maslen.

Photo courtesy of Amelia Maslen.

5. Going on a trail ride on your monstrously tall horse that finally takes up your leg? Watch your head.

This one’s pretty self-explanatory: All those nice branches that your normal-sized friends on their normal-sized horses fit so easily under become widow makers for you and your enormous draft/warmblood/giraffe that you’re riding. (Even if you’re like me on an average-sized Quarter horse, you’ll still need to duck. Often.) Sure, your friend in the front of the line might be getting all the spiderwebs out of the way — at what’s chest-height for you. Don’t worry, because you’ll still be eating every spider web that’s up at your level of the stratosphere.

6. Ready yourself to be the go-to guy for bridling/worming/ear plugs/getting the saddle off the high rack/changing the light bulb in the feed room/whatever.

Blaze throws his head up when it’s time to be bridled? Charlie doesn’t like getting his ear plugs in? Susie can’t reach the bridle on the rack in the tack room? Don’t worry, because you are there, tall rider, and you will get to help everyone with all of these problems. Able to braid Gustav the warmblood’s forelock without needing a stool to stand on? You are the man, and you’ve now inherited this duty for life — as well as other random things that no one else can reach, like washing the arena mirrors, getting things off the high shelf, fetching all that stuff from the gooseneck part of the horse trailer, and so on. You will never get the low rack in the tack room.

See that saddle all the way up there? Yep, that's going to be your saddle rack…forever. Lisa Brewster/Flickr/Creative Commons License

See that saddle all the way up there? Yep, that’s going to be your saddle rack…forever.
Lisa Brewster/Flickr/Creative Commons License

7. “But you have long legs! You can ride anything, you’ll never get bucked off!”

There is a saying among us tall riders, especially on those occasions in which someone thinks they have a sense of humor and asks you to ride their pony: “head down, man down.” Sure, we’ve got long legs, and yes, we can wrap those around the pony or horse and hang on pretty well… but we’re also proportionate beings, and if we have long legs, they’re usually balanced by a long torso that acts like a nice ol’ counterweight when things start going south. Lean a little bit and you’ve actually shifted your balance quite a lot… and on a pony, there’s nothing left to hang on to. So, yes, you’re right, we do have long legs… but we also have a better-than-average chance of getting thrown off balance on the top half, and down we go.

Not shown: a few moments later, when 12.2 hand Rain simply dropped his head and sent Amelia sailing. Photo provided by Amelia Maslen.

Not shown: a few moments later, when 12.2 hand Rain simply dropped his head and sent 5’10” Amelia sailing.
Photo by Kait Schultz.

Not that this has ever stopped me from riding and falling off of ponies, mind you. Because I might be a tall rider, but I’m just as horse crazy as the rest of us.

Team sorting at the Bitterroot Ranch on 12 hand pony Brave, my most favorite team sorting mount of all time.

Team sorting at the Bitterroot Ranch on 12-hand pony Brave, my most favorite team sorting mount of all time. Photo by Sascha Abramson.

Many thanks to fellow tall rider Amelia Maslen for photos and inspiration.

Short riders, don’t worry: Leslie wrote a list for you too. Check it out here! Go Riding!

#ThrowbackThursday: Draft Horses vs. Winter

When you’re stuck in the snow, there’s only one kind of horsepower that can help you–actual horsepower.

Happy #ThrowbackThursday! Each Thursday, we’re sharing a popular piece from the HN archives that’s just too good to be lost to the internet.

Even in today’s technology- and engineering-driven world, there are times that you just have to go back and do things the old-fashioned way. Winter, unfortunately, seems to be one of those times. Horses may have been replaced by the combustion engine a long, long time ago, but I think it’s safe to say that horses are getting the last laugh on us.

This team, named Iceman and Mario, make it look easy:

According to this next video’s description, this is what happens when Floridians drive in the snow. My favorite part is when the guys trying to get the truck out cry “but he doesn’t have a tractor or four wheeler to get it out!” Don’t worry, because these Percherons have got ya covered, and make it look like the truck was hardly stuck in the first place with the speed at which they get it rolling.

In a weirdly full-circle kind of moment, this four-up is pulling its OWN truck and trailer up a snowy incline…maybe just drive the horses there directly next time? Either way, this is really impressive. (Note: must be logged in to Facebook to view.)

These photos were taken in February of 2015 by Amy Snyder, an occupational therapist making a house call to an Amish family in rural Hartfield, New York. Her car got stuck in the unplowed driveway, and the tow truck driver admitted that he wouldn’t be able to make it up to pull her out–so the family hitched up its team and went to work, getting her back on the road in just a few minutes.

amy snyder 1

Photo by Amy Snyder.

amy snyder 2

Photo by Amy Snyder.

The last video in our collection has been making the Internet rounds for a few winters, and is arguably the most impressive horses-saving-trucks video in existence: this four-abreast pulls a dairy tanker out of a snow drift. It’s certainly not easy for the horses (there’s a few scary slips on the slick surface, but everyone keeps their footing) but they get it done.

Draft horses: the best tow truck you could ever ask for.

Horse Nation, have you ever needed a draft horse rescue? Share your stories and photos!

Go Driving!

#ThrowbackThursday: Hold On To Your Hats

We originally shared this video two years ago when it first went viral, but it’s enjoying a second wave of popularity. Hold on to your hats, folks.
Screenshot courtesy of Ken Patton's Facebook video.

Screenshot courtesy of Ken Patton’s Facebook video.

Editor’s note: While we at Horse Nation respect the use of a helmet as a personal choice, we encourage all riders, regardless of discipline, to #MindYourMelon.

Working cow horses are known for their agility and grit, and nowhere is this more apparent than in Ken Patton’s viral video from the 2014 Fort Worth Stock Show. Watch as competitor Mozaun McKibben and his horse get tripped up by a cow coming out of a fence turn, falling facefirst toward the unforgiving ground. And then… (You must be logged into Facebook to view the excitement.)


Ok. Here is the video of the wreck. Think you,ll agree that Mozaun is a heck of a hand with a horse or cow.

Posted by Ken Patton on Monday, January 20, 2014

Holy cow. (Yeah, that’s right, we went there.)

Not only did Mozaun’s horse pop to his feet, but Mozaun also caught his hat and the pair resumed their ride as though nothing had happened. What a great save by both!

Go working cow horses. Go riding.