Horse Riding And Travels – Fun Way To Widen Your Horizons!


There are many ways to get to see the landscape of a place you are visiting. You can take a bus ride, rent a car, take a walk or perhaps even a helicopter tour!

You can also use someone else’s legs.

No, I’m not suggesting your travel partner should carry you, or that you’d commit some hideous act of leg swapping or anything like that 😮

This is about one of mankind’s best and most loyal friends since thousands of years, that have carried us far beyond what we would have managed on our own to legs.

The strong, wise and beautiful horse!

Now wait a minute! Am I suggesting you’d sit up on a HORSE! Don’t they bite in the front end and kick at the rear end? And throw you off in the middle!

Ok, if that’s your reaction this is perhaps not for you… OR, you could challenge your fears and your boundaries and actually try it out. You will experience a whole new way of exploring the place you’re at!

I’ve gone horseback riding twice when abroad, and both times I’ve had a good experience. The first time was more enjoyable than the second. However, that was partly due to the characteristics of the landscape. The horses behaved well at both occasions 🙂

Madeira

The beautiful island of Madeira is famous for its levadas. These are narrow water canals that the Portuguese started building in the 16th century. The latest addition was built in the 1940s. So what are they doing there?

Mountaineous Madeira

Mountainous Madeira in the Atlantic Ocean.

Madeira is a mountainous island. On the southeast coast are the best conditions for living and growing crops like sugar canes and bananas. But, most of the rain falls in the northwest. However, humans are inventive and enterprising when they have to be. The inhabitants of the island just started to build canals to bring the water from where it fell to where it was needed.

Today there are 1,350 miles of levadas, of which 25 miles are tunnels. Impressive indeed!

Levada in the Madeira mountains, on the beautiful Rabaçal-Risco trail. Not suitable for horse riding though :)

Levada in the Madeira mountains, on the beautiful Rabaçal-Risco trail. Not suitable for horse riding though 🙂

But hey, what has this got to do with horseback riding?

A lot, as it turns out. Along the canals are walks or trails, some of them are very suitable for riding and offers beautiful views of the Laurisilva Forest in the mountains. Along some paths you will even see the ocean.

(There are also plenty of walking trails along the levadas. These are very nice as well, and I will come back to that experience in another post.)

When preparing for our visit to Madeira we searched for riding opportunities, and found Quinta do Riacho. They had great reviews on Tripadvisor, and we were not disappointed.

When we booked the ride we also asked to be picked up at our hotel, and on the appointed time Paulo came in his car. He told us a lot about Madeira while driving up to Quinta do Riacho. That was a nice bonus!

The stable is located up in the mountains, and the access paths to the trails are close by. The beautiful horses were well schooled and reliable, and Paulo, who owns the place together with his wife Paula, made sure we felt comfortable and safe on them.

Stables at Quinta do Riacho

Stables at Quinta do Riacho. Very peaceful and beautifully situated!

We had a lovely tour through the mountains, and saw spectacular views we would not have seen otherwise. And the experience of sitting on a warm horse that kindly and safely carries you along the trail adds a whole new dimension to the experience.

Unfortunately, one passage had been destroyed by heavy rains during the winter. That one would have lead us to a mountain top with a view of the ocean . To compensate us for that Paulo kindly took us to a place with a similar view, on the way back to our hotel. We got the  photos we wanted 🙂

Back at the stables we were asked if we wanted to say hello to the dogs, there were about 10 of them. We did, and out came a bunch of happy and friendly dogs. Some were interested in us and some just minded their own business. Paulo and Paula take care of rescue dogs and street dogs and give them a good life at the stables.

Two of the very sweet dogs that Paula and Paulo have rescued and given a home at the stables.

Two of the very sweet dogs that Paula and Paulo have rescued and given a home at the stables.

Some of the horses are rescued from bad living conditions as well, one has actually been moved from the mainland of Portugal to a whole new life at Quinta do Riacho.

All in all, a very nice and highly recommendable adventure when visiting Madeira, the green island!

Mykonos

Our riding experience at Mykonos was slightly different. First of all, the landscape at Mykonos is much drier and more barren. The dominant colors are brown and yellow, rather than variations of green.

Mykonos - dry but beautiful in its own right.

Mykonos – dry but beautiful in its own right

Second, we were in a group with other people. That made the whole thing less personal.

However, the scenery was still beautiful. We ended up on a small beach where the man guiding us kindly took pictures of us on our horses with the Mediterranean Sea in the background.

Fokos Beach at Mykonos

Fokos Beach at Mykonos

The horses were nice and calm. Oddly enough though, mine tried to take a roll in the sand with me still in the saddle! Luckily, the guide spotted us and yelled at the horse who saw sense and rose to its hoofs again before it actually rolled over. I couldn’t help but laugh at the mischievous horse 🙂 Too bad I don’t have a picture to share!

All in all, it was a good experience, but perhaps without the personal touch and the warmth we felt on Madeira. If you want to go horse riding on Mykonos, Mykonos Horseland is the only provider. It’s a small island!

Would I do it again?

Yes, I definitely would. It’s a nice way to get to know the landscape of a destination a bit closer up than driving past in a car. And it’s a good way to stress down, if you let yourself relax into the rhythm of the horse’s walk.

This is how we travelled all the time not too long ago… The modern car has only been around for 100 years! So feel the connection to your ancestors while slowly taking in your surroundings 🙂

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