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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep. 15, 2003
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    341

    Default non-riding friends on a riding vacation?

    This question is a little far off yet, but I figured I'd see what others thought. The recent thread on riding in Ireland inspired me to think about planning a riding trip there. I was at Castle Leslie in 2001 (and it was wonderful!) but I'd like to go here: http://www.ridingtours.com/horseback...stal-trail.cfm since it seems so popular and involves riding on the beach as well as a little optional jumping. I'm hoping to go in summer 2011, once I have time to save up for the trip.

    But I want to take a friend along who does not, at this time, ride. This friend is very adventurous and a great travel companion (hence wanting to go with her) but she hasn't been on a horse since she was a child, and then it was in a western saddle. I'm sure she would be amenable to the idea of some riding lessons prior to traveling, but I'm not sure how much actual saddle time would be necessary to make someone comfortable on a trip like this. Would a once-a-week lesson for a few months be enough for a reasonably athletic person to learn to post the trot, canter in two-point, and ride in the open on a quiet horse? I can't let her borrow my horse to practice as he's not really beginner-safe. Anyone else have experience with this situation?
    The hooves of the horses! Oh witching and sweet is the music earth steals from the iron-shod feet. Will Ogilvie



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun. 20, 2008
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    3,246

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    Castle Leslie basically does a couple of hours riding per day like say maybe a morning and then afternoon ride -most are cross country - don't know if they accompany riders w/ a car/landrover or not - if so then she might be able to watch that way - otherwise there should be plenty of things for her to do while you're riding - Castle Leslie is a resort estate.. you can visit their website.

    I will PM with other suggestions..



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep. 15, 2003
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    341

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    The thing is my friend would want to ride (not jump, but ride with the group). Maybe a non-horsey activity on days that would involve more strenuous or difficult riding, or mid-week to rest sore muscles, but I'm not sure what a non-rider would need to do to prepare for that, or what's realistic and safe.
    The hooves of the horses! Oh witching and sweet is the music earth steals from the iron-shod feet. Will Ogilvie



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan. 21, 2010
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    2,124

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    I would shoot myself if I was on a riding vacation with a friend who didn't ride as much as I did. It's practically guaranteed that at some point (maybe on Day #2!) they'll be too sore to ride and won't want to go. Plus even when you're out riding, you're limited by their ability. Want to cross the creek, but non-riding friend is too scared/doesn't have the ability to control the horse? You're SOL. Your path is blocked by a low 2' stone wall, but your friend hasn't jumped? Then you can't either. It would just ruin a riding vacation for me, especially because the point is to ride.



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul. 17, 2009
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    south eastern US
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    Quote Originally Posted by morganpony86 View Post
    I would shoot myself if I was on a riding vacation with a friend who didn't ride as much as I did. It's practically guaranteed that at some point (maybe on Day #2!) they'll be too sore to ride and won't want to go. Plus even when you're out riding, you're limited by their ability. Want to cross the creek, but non-riding friend is too scared/doesn't have the ability to control the horse? You're SOL. Your path is blocked by a low 2' stone wall, but your friend hasn't jumped? Then you can't either. It would just ruin a riding vacation for me, especially because the point is to ride.
    AGREED! It seems like every time I ride with a mixed group I find myself in the back babysitting the beginners. I have the most fun when riding with people with skills equal to mine. I'd be damned if I'd pay that kind of money for a once in a lifetime trip and then have to dumb down my riding to accomodate a beginner. Some people are naturals though and have the confidence that can help them learn to ride more quickly than others. But summertime is will be here before you know it, I just don't think there is enough time.
    "My biggest fear is that when I die my husband is going to try to sell all my horses and tack for what I told him they cost."



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec. 12, 2004
    Location
    Massachusetts
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    Even if she starts taking lessons RIGHT NOW, that really only leaves you a few months.....say under 20 lessons. She MIGHT be starting to canter, after that period, depending on how much of a natural she is. (At my first barn, in the lesson program, there was one poor little girl who desperately loved horses, but somehow did just not have the coordination down and after a year was still just walk-trotting. Poor thing, she was very good at other sports, just couldn't figure out the balancing on horseback thing!)

    Find a friend who can ride already, or perhaps pitch the vacation to your friend as some nice spa time for her while you're out riding cross country, perhaps. If you spend all this money on the trip and then have to stick with the beginner group doing walk-trot around a field....you're going to want to kill yourself.
    Well isn't this dandy?



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul. 5, 2007
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    Beside Myself ~ Western NY
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    I have a good (non-riding) friend who took her niece on an Irish riding vacation for her graduation present.

    Before she made the arrangements, my friend came to my house and took one ride first to A) make sure she was not afraid and B) get my opinion on whether or not she could manage it.

    Some people have natural seats, some people have natural fear. You have to find which type you are dealing with before you make the down payment. My friend followed up with a couple of months of weekly instruction at a lesson stable, went on the vacation and had a good time (and a sore bottom). I think it was more of pony trekking follow the leader type ride than advanced riding.

    So, yes I think it could be managed depending on:
    the type of riding required
    your friend's comittment to try
    your friend's natural abilities



  8. #8

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    I get frustrated on trail rides when it seems like we always have that one person in the group who doesn't even want to trot. And we go on a lot of trail rides every year! (so there are still rides were we get to do more than walk, is my point)

    I'd be really upset to spend a lot of money to go to overseas specifically to ride horses only for the friend I bring with me to discover after the first day or so they aren't interested and only want to mosey along or don't want to go out on the rides at all or something.

    Now, if your friend picks up riding now and takes those lessons (and, hopefully at least a couple of times you guys can go out on multi-hour trail rides because there's a huge difference between taking an hour lesson and staying in the saddle for several hours [even if you're just walking!]) and seems to stay interested in riding and be capable of staying on the horse? Well, okay then.

    But generally I'd agree that if you want to bring a friend, you might be happier bringing one you already know can ride and wants to ride.
    The Trials and Jubilations of a Twenty-Something Re-rider
    Happy owner of Kieran the mostly-white-very-large-not-pony.



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug. 26, 2008
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    Some of the riding vacations I've looked at in Ireland seem to have multiple groups and they split you into levels once they assess your ability on their horses. If your friend would be happy to split from you and join the trail-plodding group meeting up toward the end of the day, she's probably a good person to bring. If either of you is sketchy on this arrangement, I'd say she's not a good person to bring.

    A few introductory lessons would be good in any case, especially to get her used to the terminology of English tack and basic horsemanship, get her going at a w/t/c on a nice school horse. It would also give her a clue as to what gear she needs and try it out. This would be wise to do BEFORE she commits to coming with you. I don't know that any beginner, no matter how natural, would be ready to tear off over 3'+ stone fences though.

    I sort of did the opposite, took off travelling for four months with a friend and then looked for neat riding opportunities. My friend was happy to hold her horse to a sedate trot when the guide and I tore across sand dunes at a full gallop, and another time she stayed back with a group at the hostel to do something else when I went riding.
    Lifestyle coordinator for Zora, Spooky, Wolfgang and Warrior



  10. #10
    Join Date
    May. 8, 2004
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    Vienna, Austria
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    About a hundred years ago I went on a really grand inn to inn riding tour in Vermont. I went as a single, and upon arrival the group save two were quite competent riders.

    The two were "weekend" riders. They had a miserable trip. One fell off almost right off the bat, which terrified her and made her want to only walk. Which killed the deal for the rest of the highly competent group. She ended up falling off again and hit her head pretty badly, so she got carted away and refused to get on another horse. Which meant they ended up getting a horse and cart to take her along.

    The second non-rider gave up shortly thereafter, which did make the rest of the trip fine for the more serious riders. But, overall, it had to rank as one of the worst holidays ever for those two poor souls.

    I'd stick to riding friends for riding holidays and non-riding friends for non-riding holidays.



  11. #11
    Join Date
    May. 3, 2008
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    996

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    I've done it a couple of times with various friends. It can completely work and be a great time for both of you or it can be kind of frustrating. Some things to consider:
    1. Is your friend a trooper, willing to try stuff, roll with the punches? If not, I wouldn't do a riding holiday. Horses can be messy and complicated.

    2. Is your friend relatively athletic and in shape? If so, she'll be able to hang on if necessary. If not, attempts to ride will not be easy or comfortable and may feel scary to a beginner.

    3. Are there soft-riding options (i.e. multiple groups, trail rides, etc.) and how well set up are they for riders of multiple levels? I went to a place that had morning lessons and afternoon hacks. My friend decided after the first day that the morning lessons weren't for her, but really enjoyed the afternoon hacks. She also hacked around during lessons some days.

    4. Similar to #3, what kind of riding will it be and how well trained are the horses? If you are brutally honest with the vendor, you can find out if it will work.

    5. Will you be willing to split up without hard feelings? If one of you feels the need to stay together but you're not at the same level it will be tough. If you're willing to split up, you can have a great laugh about your rides at meals and down times during the day. You could even take an easy day and join the beginner group to see how the friend is getting along just because you want to, not because you're being held back.

    6. Are there other things to do if your friend decides riding isn't it? Can your friend entertain herself (reading, catching a bus and sightseeing, etc.). Will your friend take the initiative and do these things or will she sulk and make you feel guilty and try to talk you into skipping riding and doing something else? Riding holidays are expensive, unless you're really wealthy, you're going to resent skipping what you paid for.

    7. Most important-How tolerant will said friend be of days of non-stop horse talk?

    With respect to getting ready. It can be done if the friend is willing and athletic. Just tell the trainer exactly what you're going to be doing on the vacation and the trainer can tailor the lessons somewhat to get your friend ready. Your friend doesn't need to know how to do a 20 meter circle, etc.
    You'll know after lesson or two whether it will be doable. Some people can group ride (i.e. follow at all gaits on a safe horse) the first time they get on the horse.
    Last edited by NCRider; Feb. 17, 2011 at 02:52 PM. Reason: To answer the actual question



  12. #12

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    Just want to add that I went on a bicycle tour of Italy one year with a friend. We are not friends any more. Ahem.

    I trained and trained and was more than adequately prepared to ride 100 miles a day, at an easy to moderate to sometimes intense pace. Most of the riding was easy, but there would always be some sections of difficult hills ... and you had more time to get off and explore if you didn't take all day just getting there.

    My friend did not train. She expected me to hang back with her ALL.THE.TIME. She got tired and needed to ride in the van (which was available at all time), but she refused to do it. She wanted to ride slowly and putz along.

    Finally, realizing how very much money I had spent on the trip, I abandoned her. I told her to ride in the van, I was going ahead. And I did. Well, she wouldn't get in the van. She got so far behind the group, she got lost. It was a huge thing, with everyone trying to find her, and looking at me as if I were an evil evil person.

    Ugh! I would not embark on the horseback riding vacation with someone who is not ready to ride horses at your same level! Truly!



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct. 1, 2008
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    18

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    For the ride you linked to it states a rider should have a tight seat, good control, and be confident at a gallop. I can't imagine one can achieve this in once-a-week lessons for a couple of months. I've heard they're pretty gung-ho hackers in Ireland, too. Bolder and braver than your typical American rider.

    If you're not sure, call or e-mail Equitours and ask.



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb. 28, 2006
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    The rocky part of KY
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    Quote Originally Posted by NCRider View Post
    . . .
    6. Are there other things to do if your friend decides riding isn't it? Can your friend entertain herself (reading, catching a bus and sightseeing, etc.). Will your friend take the initiative and do these things or will she sulk and make you feel guilty and try to talk you into skipping riding and doing something else? Riding holidays are expensive, unless you're really wealthy, you're going to resent skipping what you paid for. . .
    My first re-riding trainer offers week long vacations and has a little listing of tourist attractions for the non-riders in the group - but you'd better be stone cold clear about whether the vacation is all about the two of you pal-ing around or the two of you escorting one another to lovely destinations and being free to explore independently. Could be great, or horrible.
    Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
    Incredible Invisible



  15. #15
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    Aug. 17, 2004
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    Rixeyville, VA
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    I once went on a riding vacation with a mixed group of people. One man had had 6 lessons before embarking on the vacation. He was miserable.
    Where Norwegian Fjords Rule
    http://www.ironwood-farm.com



  16. #16
    Join Date
    May. 3, 2008
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    996

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    Didn't see that it was an equitours trip. Some of their trips are pretty hard core and I think they're pretty honest about the level required. (i.e. they're not exaggerating to make you underestimate your ability) If they say you need to be at x level, they they mean it. Maybe not so much in terms of skill per se but in terms of fitness and ability to ride for a long time and comfort level at the various gaits. (i.e. if they say you need to be comfortable at a gallop, they mean can you gallop for 5-10 minutes without falling off ).

    Again, if it's set up for various levels, then that's one thing but if it's a single trip and they're saying you need to be comfortable at a gallop, unless your friend is very brave, and very balanced and very fit and proves to be naturally comfortable on a horse, I'd take a pass.



  17. #17
    Join Date
    May. 15, 2005
    Location
    Australasia
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    I can't imagine I'd go on a riding vacation with a non-rider.

    I'd be happy to do stuff along the lines as what rugbygirl says/did but to pay good $$ for a proper riding holiday no way I'd consider going with a non-rider.
    where am I, what day is it, am I still having a good time?



  18. #18
    Join Date
    Feb. 6, 2003
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    Deep South
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    To answer the question. Get your friend to do as much riding as she can afford/has time for, before she goes. It won't hurt, will help, and she may become addicted !
    ... _. ._ .._. .._



  19. #19
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    Mar. 9, 2006
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    I think it's a bad idea unless there are other activities available for your friend. I've only known one person who was truly athletic enough to go walk-trot-canter on trails after three months riding. This person competes in triathlons and has the tenacity and energy of a Jack Russell Terrier. However, even though this person could stick to a horse like a burr, three months riding didn't supply the kind of animal experience needed to avoid putting other people into dangerous situations. Stuff like, don't let a horse tailgate a mare coming out of heat cause someone's gonna get kicked. Don't break into a trot as soon as you cross the creek, cause the horse still in the creek is probably going to try to leap up the bank to catch up.



  20. #20
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    Jun. 20, 2008
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    I've gone on plenty of riding vacations with nonriders - once with a friend of mine and often there were be folks in the group who never rode before - they all had a great time! As others have mentioned it depends on the person and what they have in mind for their vacations. The nonriders I've been with were fully aware they were going to be riding for 5-7 hours per day... Now I've also been on riding vacations where there is the person who thinks they are tops and they are not... which can be just as nervewracking as rank beginners. Once we had a gal who was dressed to the nines - gorgeous custom boots..before we headed out she asked me about "how to ask for the canter departure when we begin to canter" I said chances are pretty good that when the horses in front start cantering yours will too -"what about asking for the correct lead" Um that won't matter because they'll pick up whatever lead they want - we're on a trail... SOO now horse assignments - this same woman told the outfitter she trained horses and would prefer something "Green" OKay.. It was not 5 minutes on the ride before she fell off. She might have falled off once or twice more -then did a horse switch. When it came time to canter - she opted to go in the FAST GROUP. OUtfitter asked me if I would take the Slow Group. So we in the "slow group" enjoyed a nice long lovely controlled canter.. .while the FAST group was trotting as fast as they could because this "trainer" refused to canter!!


    At any rate - the riding vacations are a blast and you just have to be able to deal with different levels and different types of people. I've gone on these alone many times - and have met and become great friends with several who've I've met over the years - often planning return trips together.



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