Home TravelTopicsAnimals The five most magical and unique horse rides around the world

The five most magical and unique horse rides around the world

by Elisa Flitter Fever
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Nothing makes me happier than traveling around the world. And I love horse riding. To combine both in one trip is perfect! Over the years I have done numerous horse rides around the world. These are the five horse rides that I have done around the world that became my top favorites, each in its own unique and magical way. For example, what about a horseback riding safari or swimming with horses?

From the age of 10 I started with riding lessons. Every summer I peeled tulip bulbs for six weeks to be able to pay for the rides for the rest of the year.

Encountering rhinos during a horseback safari in South Africa
Encountering rhinos during a horseback safari in South Africa (photo credits Ant’s Hill & Ant’s Nest)

Horseback safari in South Africa (1)

Back in 2012 I made a fantastic trip to South Africa and Namibia together with my friend Anja. One of the things that was on top of my list of things to do there, next to wine tasting in Stellenbosch, was a horseback riding safari. And so we did.

Honey, I can tell you: it is amazing! Absolutely a dream come true and must-do for animal lovers. Would love to go back one day and do more horse safaris at Ant’s Hill and Ant’s Nest in Waterberg. This is truly one of the best horse rides around the world!

Riding on a horse right between the giraffes, zebras and rhinos. How cool is that?! I love animals, so the more the merrier!

Anja had never ridden before, yet turned out to be a horse riding talent. We got friendly horses, great guidance, saw many wild animals along the way and enjoyed a lovely pick-nick break. Our private thatched cottage with outdoor shower, bathtub, private pool, four-poster bed and panoramic view over the African jungle was truly fantastic. One of the best places I have ever stayed at.

Read more in the article Soweto, horse riding safari & cheetahs – Africa Dream Trip Part 1.

Instagram post Ant's Next Ant's Hill horseback riding safari giraffe

Swimming with horses in New Zealand (2)

Sitting on the back of a horse while he/she is swimming in a river is not an experience I will easily forget. When my Kiwi cousin told me about this possibility, I instantly knew what I was going to do while my boyfriend would walk the Tongariro Crossing. Korohe Horse Treks in Turangi on the southeastern edge of Lake Taupo is owned by Maori. THE place to be for this fantastic experience.

It was a beautiful sunny day when Sammii took me and my brave horse Uira on this adventurous ride around the Waimaro River. Once we got to the river, I was surprised how rocky and cold it was. And I was glad I put my water shoes on. When the river gets so deep that the horse starts to swim, is an indescribable feeling. What a memorable day in one of the most beautiful countries I have ever seen, New Zealand.

Read more in the article New Zealand: swimming with horses in Turangi at Korohe Horse Tracks.

My beautiful brave horse Uira at the Waimaro River
My beautiful brave horse Uira at the Waimaro River
horse riding in Turangi
Going this deep into the river made me laugh out loud

Irish beach ride with Connemara Pony (3)

Galloping on the back of a horse can give me a great adrenaline rush. Never in my life have I felt this better than when we were racing on a beach in Connemara with our Connemara ponies. Those who know me well, know that Ireland is one of my top favorite countries in the whole wide world. It is simply breathtakingly beautiful. And then, horseback riding there on a bight sunny day… pinch me!

We met the lovely American couple John and Teresa at the Cleggan Riding Center, and John happens to be a photographer. So he took plenty of shots of us, great! This is one of those rides that brought me to tears of happiness. Like I also had on the sleigh ride with husky dogs in Finnish Lapland. Luckily for me, John did not have that big of a zoom lens to capture that.  

Read more in the article Enchanting Ireland: Connemara, my favorite region – part 3 of 9-16 days round trip.

Horse riding on the beach in Connemara Ireland
Gotta love these beach rides (photo credits John Dwyer)
Horse riding at Cleggan, Connemara
Horse riding in Cleggan, Connemara, Ireland

Horse riding with a gaucho in the Andes (4)

Argentina is known for its own unique type of cowboys called gauchos. When we visited Argentina in 2016, I knew that I had to grab my chance take a ride with a real-life gaucho whenever possible. So when driving around the Salta Province in the northwest, I was hoping to find one that would take me on top of the Andes mountain range that borders Argentina and Chile.

The gaucho I found was very friendly yet did not speak a word of English. Of course you shouldn’t expect too many words from a tough cowboy anyway. We rode on our horses for a while, enjoying silently through a fairly flat landscape. Until we came to a beautiful, terracotta-colored mountain valley. Wow! I remember it was very cold that early morning but such a beautiful and unforgettable experience.

Read more in the article Salta & Jujuy road trip: explore spectacular northwest Argentina.

Tip: Looking for gaucho experiences in Argentina? Check the offerings on Get Your Guide and Viator, most often from Mendoza, Cordoba or Buenos Aires.

Riding behind my gaucho towards the Andes Argentina
Following my gaucho towards the Andes
Quebrada de las Conchas view and my horse for the day
Quebrada de las Conchas view and my horse for the day

Riding an Icelandic horse on Iceland (5)

Oh My God, these Icelandic horses are such a great ride. Compared to other horse breeds, Icelandic horses have two extra gaits. One of those turned out to become my new favorite: the Tölt. 22-year-old Askur had a large share in what made this ride to the black beach near Langhus Farm so pleasant. Icelandic horses are known for their strength and lovely characters. And no muscle pain afterwards!

This Icelandic horse riding experience was the cherry on the cake, fulfilling a long-term wish.

Riding the national horse breed in this stunning Icelandic landscape felt like such a privilege. We traveled to Iceland right when it was shortly allowed and possible during the COVID-19 pandemic in the summer of 2020. So we were extremely lucky to be there already anyway. Not with the Northern Lights or packs of snow or anything like that, but that was absolutely fine with me. I loved it anyway.

Read more in my article Langhus Farm: riding an Icelandic horse in northwest Iceland.

Group of Icelandic horses on the Langhus Farm property
Group of Icelandic horses on the Langhus Farm property
Photobombed by a horse on a black beach on Iceland
Photobombed by a horse on a black beach on Iceland

More horse experiences

Obviously I have done tons of rides in my home country The Netherlands, mostly in beach village Schoorl and some in Drenthe in the northeast. In Schoorl, close to my home town Alkmaar, there are some cool horse tracks of which parts feel like a bobsled run. The local horseback riding school organizes full moon beach rides.

When I was a kid and we went camping in The Netherlands during the summer holidays, I wass always nagging my parents crazy to find me a horse to ride on. My parents did everything on a micro-budget, yet managed to arrange some holiday horse rides for me. One time I even went on a Pony Camp!

Horse riding at Zeegser dunes in Drenthe
Horse riding at Zeegser dunes in Drenthe
Getting ready for a horse ride in Umbria, Italy
Getting ready for a horse ride in Umbria, Italy

I have done a lot more horde rides than this, however the above mentioned are the most special ones that are etched in my memory. I have done several rides in Tuscany and Umbria in Italy, but somehow they were never really spectacular or special. At least not impressive enough to be included as one of the five best horse rides around the world that I have done so far.

Usually I always bring on holidays at least my riding gloves, often also my chaps. Just in case!

When I was studying in Madison, Wisconsin, USA in 2016, I visited the largest 3-day horse fair in the US. In 2018, when we were in Jerez de la Frontera, we visited the famous Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art. It would be fantastic to ride an Andalusian horse myself one day. A ride on an elegant Andalusian horse in Andalusia (Spain)… That definitely has the potential to be listed as one of the best horse rides around the world!

On Cuba it is quite popular to go horse riding, especially in Viñales. My brother and his wife went horse riding near Trinidad I believe. After that ride my sister in law could not properly walk for two days! When I was on Cuba with my friend Melissa back in 2015, we decided not to go horse riding. This because the horses  and the gear that were used for tourist rides did not look good.

Horseback riding wish list

Although I have made already so many great horse rides in my life so far, I still have a few wishes. As mentioned earlier, I would love to go back to Africa again and do another horseback riding safari. It would also be awesome to go horse riding through the Cape Winelands near Cape Town. Wine tasting and horseback riding… OMG, now that would be an interesting combinations of hobbies hehe That could absolutely be one of the best horse rides around the world.

Another long-term dream I have is to visit an American horse ranch, like in Texas for example. As far as I am concerned, it could also be in Wyoming or some other godforsaken in-the-middle-of-nowhere ranch. As long as it will be cowboy style! Or native Americans? I loved Brokeback Mountain but apparently it was – for financial reasons – almost entirely shot in the Canadian Rockies instead of Wyoming LOL I used to watch a lot of Western movies with my dad and of course Zorro!

I was planning to go horse riding in Georgia (the country) last year, but that trip unfortunately got cancelled due to COVID-19. Honestly speaking I do not long for days of horseback treks through harsh landscapes, like Linda did in Kyrgyzstan. That would physically be too much for me, I am simply not suitable for that. Completely different setting but similar outcome; although it sounds like a fabulous idea to go horse riding on the beach of an exotic island far-far-away, I don’t think I would look good doing that, at least not while wearing a bikini LOL

Horse riding in the Belgian Ardennes like Dutch fellow blogger Mirre did – also seems like a lot of fun!!

Where is it getting you

Riding vacations are a great way to explore a country. You are able to see and experience things that most tourists miss out on. It is also a great way to meet very interesting people on these rides. Because every one who participates shares a common love of horses, riding and travel.

Taking horse rides around the world are also an excellent way to improve your personal riding abilities. Simply by taking the opportunity to ride unfamiliar horses in various weather conditions, over some amazing beautiful and often rugged landscapes. I hope any horse lover will be able to experience and enjoy many wonderful horse rides around the world!

Better safe than sorry

Just something to think about. Make sure the travel and health insurance you have, covers you if you are to get in a riding accident. If you choose to ride, consider to do that during one of the last days of your trip. So in case something happens, not the whole trip is ruined. I learned the hard way and received 8K in medical bills, a wrecked vacation, in a wheelchair through the airports while my husband had to wheel me and carry all the bags when we went back home. A lot of people seem to think that horse stables are supposed to take care of such insurance, or their travel insurance would standard cover ‘dangerous sports’, but that’s often not the case.


Well, that was it, for now at least. I hope you liked this article. Please feel free to drop a question or additional tip in a comment box below. Have you ever done any horseback riding abroad? What’s on your horseback riding wish list? Best horse rides around the world in your opinion?

Horse riding at the beautiful coast line of Connemara Ireland
Horse riding at the beautiful coast line of Connemara
Icelandic horse with foal near Vestrahorn Iceland
Icelandic horse with foal near Vestrahorn

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Last Updated on 04/10/2022 by Elisa Flitter Fever

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