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Australia Horse Riding Holiday

Come and have a dressage riding holiday at the beautiful Avoca Park! This five-day package is designed to develop riders' understanding of the classical way to train and ride dressage, with the basis being good horsemanship skills.

Key Information

  • Rider Weight Limit: 198 pounds / 90 kilograms
  • Tack Type: Snaffle bridles on all the horses with leather Peter Horobin saddles or leather dressage saddles (ponies have all purpose saddles)
  • Horses: There are 12 wonderful school horses ranging from the 10hh Miniature Shetland to the 17.3hh FEI Trained Dutch Warmblood mare. There's a perfect range of horses to suit each rider's individual needs.

Meet the instructors

Leanne
Read more

Highlights

  • 2 dressage lessons per day
  • Approximate one-on-one horse time (per day): 2 hours
  • Total Riding Lessons during holiday: 6 hours
  • Lessons in cavesson, in-hand, and ridden
  • Free time to explore or add day trips if you're interested
  • 4 nights accommodation
  • Quality Homemade Meals

Skill level

  • Beginner

Styles


3 days with instruction
Group size: Maximum of 6 participants
Airport transfer available:
Melbourne Airport (US$ 134 per person)
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Accommodation

Check-in Time:
14:00
Check-out Time:
10:00

Facilities

  • Garden
  • Kitchen
  • Free parking
  • Free Wi-Fi

The accommodation includes a luxurious apartment or the shared bunkhouse, which have an adjoining private bedroom - superb for any family trip with its self-contained kitchen.

Bunkhouse

The bunkhouse includes a fully equipped kitchen, bathroom, lounge/ dining area, a bunk room, and a private bedroom. The bunkhouse is the perfect setup for a group of friends or a family looking for a good value country getaway. It can accommodate a total of ten guests in two separate bedrooms; one bedroom has a double bed, and the other bedroom has four bunks, allowing for eight people. Each bedroom has an entrance doorway to the well-appointed, communal bathroom.

The lounge area has a 42-inch flat-screen television, DVD player, and stereo if you just want to relax. With a path taking you out of the bunkhouse to the outdoor spa set in a quiet sanctuary of an evening, overlooking the stables.

What a perfect way to relax under the kookaburra laughs of dusk, as the stars slowly start to appear through the trees in the evenings. Surrounded by beautiful Paulownia trees, the bunkhouse is well protected from the sun in summer and warmed by effective heating in the cooler months. There is an undercover outdoor sitting area with a barbecue and heater, which is a popular spot to read or watch the horses go by.

The Apartment

Including private bedroom with en suite. There is a kettle and minifridge in the room but the guests will have access to a fully equipped kitchen just 10 meters away. Avoca Park’s popular apartment is stylishly decorated and perfectly appointed for the equine enthusiasts, situated near the entrance to the Indoor Arena. It has a super comfy Queen bed, small dining table with chairs a flat-screen television, DVD player with an assortment of movies to watch.

The apartment is comfortable all year round, protected from the heat in summer, but snug during the cooler months with great heating.

Program

Avoca Park hosts one of Australia’s most experienced coaches and riders. They take pride in their beautiful property, designed with the idea “to want for nothing” in mind. They offer you a covered arena for your lessons, gardens to walk and relax in, animals to entertain you, and best of all, amazing, and experienced school horses to learn on.

This five-day holiday includes your evening of arrival and your morning of checkout. The three days in between will indulge you with dressage training from Leanne Williams, who has dedicated her life to understanding horses and developing a respectful way of training them with kindness and lightness.

Instead of forcing the horse to conform to the ideal position, she will teach you the correct tools on how to school your horse with technique and kindness to achieve a trusting bond and beautiful movements. Her previous competition experience as a Grand Prix rider enables her to deliver her lessons from a position of wealth and knowledge; this, combined with her classical learning, is priceless.

This holiday package also includes learning Australian horsemanship, partaking in some liberty sessions with Australian horseman Jason McInnes. This program will introduce you to the wonder of connection with your equine partner. The skills you use during these lessons will guide your approach to horses for the rest of your life, forming bonds using trust exercises with your horse.

Each full day during your stay will include a visit to one of the amazing local attractions, carefully thought out and delicious meals, and riding lessons. Avoca Park hopes to wow you with their beautiful area and wonderful horses. This is the holiday you need for a truly indulgent and educational equine retreat.

Avoca Park takes riders of all skill levels, from beginners to advanced. This five-day package is designed to develop a rider’s understanding of the classical way to train and ride Dressage with the basis being developed from good horsemanship skills.

Itinerary

Day 1: Monday, arrival day

Settle in and have a wander around the property; this is an opportunity to meet all the horses, dogs, cats, cocky, and, of course, their beloved donkey. There will be a fully catered Australian welcome barbecue dinner.

Day 2: Tuesday

In the morning, Avoca Park will have you arising and preparing for your first lesson in in-hand work. This will be a group session, this way, the conversations will run a little deeper. You will then be taken off to the local native sanctuary for the afternoon with a homemade picnic lunch. Upon returning to Avoca Park, your horses will be saddled for you and ready for your private lesson with Leanne. Afterward, this will be followed up with a lovely local glass of wine with matching cheese and crackers. Dinner will be prepared for you by the in-house chef.

Day 3: Wednesday

In the morning, Avoca Park will have you up and at it early enough to take over your already prepared horses for your second in-hand session. Followed by a relaxing massage by a professional masseuse at Avoca Park. There will then be an outing for lunch at a beautiful local restaurant, Elevation.

Alternatively, you may choose to have an outing to the local chocolaterie for lunch, where you can experience anything and everything chocolate. Full of food and relaxation, you will come home for your private riding lesson to continue developing your riding skills. At 6:00 p.m., Avoca Park will bring on the happy hour, followed by another wonderfully prepared dinner.

Day 4: Thursday

In the morning, Avoca Park will have you out and about for your group or semi-lesson, and then the activity of the day is a trip on Puffing Billy from Belgrave to Emerald. Picnic lunch at Emerald lake will be supplied, and you can ride the paddle boats if you desire. Once you return home from your fun afternoon, you will have your final private lesson with Jason.

This will be a liberty session where you will discover the beauty of connection. Wine and snacks will be waiting for you when you finish this amazing experience. Your final dinner with Avoca Park will be beautifully prepared and there will be a time to discuss your future riding plans.

Day 5: Friday

You can sleep all morning, followed by your final breakfast with Avoca Park. It will be time to pack up and Avoca Park will wave you goodbye to take on the next part of your journey.

Riding sessions

Once Leanne has made an assessment of your skills, she will design a program that will rapidly aid you in the development of the proper grounding necessary to educate your horse through the training process. Avoca Park will talk about what you would like to achieve during the days you are with them and they will customize an individual program for your riding objectives. There will be a combination of semi-private or group and private riding lessons each day, with all the amazing instructors and their combined talents. The topics that will be covered are:

  • Cavesson work
  • In-hand work
  • Ridden work
  • Liberty
  • Horsemanship groundwork
  • Trail rides

Group classes are conducted when it is beneficial for the riders or if riders come in pairs or groups. Group lessons are tailored to the goals of each rider, just as with an individual lesson. Even though a rider is part of a group, each rider is still treated as an individual and will experience individual instruction during the program.

Equipment

Avoca Park has helmets of all sizes available for use. All horses have their own handmade leather dressage saddles fitted to them; their individual bridles are all fitted and maintained.

Riding gear

All horses have their own handmade Peter Horobin saddles or leather dressage saddles fitted to them. Their individual Snaffle bridles are all fitted and maintained. The ponies have little pony saddles. Avoca Park has helmets of all sizes available for riders to use.

Horses

Vegemite

Vegemite is the smallest member of the team, standing at 11.1 hand-height he is a black gelding, born in 2000, who is quite the character. He has recently joined Avoca Park after the riding school that he was inclosed. He is perfect for the youngest riders, up to six years. Vegemite is super for the lunge lessons and also great once the riders develop their skills to be ridden independently both in a group and by themselves.

Santa Fe

Santa is a 12.2 hand-height, flashy chestnut little man with a lovely blaze and cream socks. He was born in 1994, and although he may sound old, he is young at heart. On loan to them from a longstanding client, he has been thoroughly loved and enjoyed for 15 years by all of her daughters. He is a good fit for riders who feel that they need a well-educated pony to extend their knowledge. He went to the Grade 3 Pony Club and competed up to State Champs for Jumping and Dressage. He is a forward-moving, kind little lad that appreciates light hands and instruction from his rider. Ideal for confident but petite riders.

Roxanne

Mostly called Roxie, she is a 13.1 hand-height pocket rocket, Roxie is a grey mare, born in 2006. Leanne met Roxie many years ago, when a client was looking for a bigger pony for their daughter. At the time, she was quite young and spent many years training her through the Pony Club levels up to Grade 3 dressage and Grade 4 eventing. When it was time for Roxie to move on, selling was not an option so into this school she came. She is perfect for more experienced riders riding independently but is also perfect for them to give their lunge lessons on.

Hermione

Hermione is the matriarch of the pony paddock. She is a 14 hand-height bay mare, born in 1996. Hermione came from a client after the children had grown too large for her. She has done many years of Pony Club, up to and including Grade 3 dressage and eventing. She is a wonderful asset to the school, teaching their beginner children right through to their more experienced. No child is ever disappointed with their lesson on Hermione.

Stormy

Stormy is a 15 hand-height bay gelding who is Clydesdale x Stock Horse and was born in 2006. He came from a long-time client who was having a sea change up north and wanted him to come and finish off his career at the school. Stormy has competed up to and including Grade 2 dressage and Grade 3 eventing. He has trained many of the lateral movements, such as shoulder-in, travers, renvers, and half pass.

He is competent at a countercanter but does feel that riders should be capable of asking these things of him. Being of a medium-size, Stormy aids them in the development of the older kids plus the smaller adults, and he has this wonderful temperament where he can work with beginner riders plus the more advanced.

Billy

Billy joined the Avoca Park school in early 2021. He belongs to a beloved client who did not want him to go to waste in the paddock. With his kind and quiet temperament, they believed he could be an asset to Avoca Park, and he has turned into a little rock star. Born in 2008, he is a 15 hand-height Clydie cross gelding. He loves company and adores getting cuddles and pats.

Felix

Felix is a newer member of the team. He is a 16 hand-height warmblood gelding, born in 2007. He is a lovely gentleman who is suited to intermediate riders. Prior to his time with them, he had had extensive dressage training and carries this into his lessons now. Felix is patient, kind, and wants to please, he is easy to get along with in every manner.

Holly

Sweet Holly came from one of their wonderful clients. After building her confidence back up with Avoca Park horses and now confidentially excelling in riding her own horse, Bel knew the importance of a large, kind, and gentle mare, so when they lost their beloved Oke to colic, she saw they were at a loss for how it would ever be possible to find anything as grand as Oke to take up the adult riders for the riding school.

Bel asked them if they would be interested in using her 16,2 hand-height Clydie cross mare Holly, who had been given to her and her husband as a wedding gift. Unfortunately, due to life circumstances such as injuries, having children, and work, Holly turned into the most glorious of lawn ornaments. With her kindest nature, she had a forever home, but seeing the predicament, Bel asked them if they would like to see how Holly would go.

Her experience in life has been used as a safe trail riding horse. However, after having an eight-year holiday, she came to Avoca Park not knowing what an arena is. From March 2021, she has been in weekly training with Leanne and her apprentice Shannon. In July, she joined the ranks of the school horses and her sweet nature is winning over lots of clients.

Avoca Eclipse

Born at Avoca Park, she was named Louise on sight. She is a 17.1 hand-height, brown mare, one-fourth Clydesdale x three-fourth TB and was born in 1996. Louise was born to compete and that she did. Leanne and Louise were unstoppable for many years, competing in State and National Dressage championships from all levels, from Preliminary to FEI. She was a success story right from the word go, winning many Championships. Louise was retired from competition in 2008 and in 2010, she had her one and only foal, Delilah.

In 2011, she became part of the school to aid in the development of more advanced riders. Being a sensitive mare, she teaches students how to ride lightly. Louise’s half-brother on her sire side was Avoca Black Saint, a Champion Grand Prix horse whilst partnering Leanne in their competition career. Winning many Championships, competing at State and National levels, and being on the Australian Team in the World Dressage Challenge in 2000.

Edoras Jazmine

Edoras Jazmine, or Jazmine for short, is a wonderful addition to the school horse team. She is a Dutch Warmblood born in 2004, who stands at 17.3 hands height. Jaz has spent her whole life training dressage prior to being retired from the official competition in 2019 to have a foal. On retirement, she was a small tour champion, having traveled extensively through NSW and into Queensland. Winning and placing in all competitions, she was presented in with wonderful percentages.

They will be presenting Jazmine to aid riders in developing the feel for the higher level exercises, inclusive of the sideways movements such as shoulder-in, traver, renver, and half pass. She will also aid riders in the feel-for-walk or canter, canter or walk, counter canter, and flying changes. Jazmine will be able to give riders a feel for piaffe and some passage as well. Riders wanting to experience some lessons on Jaz will need to have a minimum of Elementary or Grade 2 HRCAV / PCAV riding experience.

They would like to remind riders that the higher-level movements are very personal and based on the relationship between horse and rider, doing them well and with feel takes time, and then the experience is priceless. All riders wishing to ride Jaz will need an assessment lesson on Louise prior.

Instructors

Leanne Williams

Location

The holiday will take place in Macclesfield, Victoria, Australia. Avoca Park is situated between the beautiful Yarra Valley, the wine district of Victoria, and the Dandenong Ranges, with beautiful bush and tree-fern surroundings. It has a huge variety of tourist sites, such as:

  • Puffing Billy - the only running steam train in Victoria
  • A walk up the 1000 steps in Ferntree Gully National Park, where you can often see the Lyre Birds
  • A huge variety of wineries offering red, white, and amazing Champagne options
  • Gin distilleries
  • Local chocolaterie with all things chocolate
  • Amazing gardens
  • Local lakes
  • A lovely local town with award-winning cafes and restaurants

The local town of Emerald is a 10-minute drive and has many lovely cafes and restaurants and is a stop to the historical steam train Puffing Billy which runs daily. Locally, they have rail trails for bike riding and national parks for walkers. Being part of the Yarra Valley wine region, you could spend hours or days driving around and enjoying this beautiful district.

Distances

  • Emerald town - 10 minutes drive

Food

Settle in and have a wander around the property. This is an opportunity to meet all the horses, dogs, cats, cocky, and, of course, their beloved donkey.

Below is the usual meal plan, we will be in contact in regard to dietary requirements and meal choices prior to your arrival.

On your first evening, you can enjoy an Australian barbecue with salad followed by homemade banana cake with cream.

Breakfast is provided at 8 a.m. each day, Prior to your arrival we will check in to see what you would like to enjoy out of the following selections for the duration of your stay. Breakfast is a choice of cereals, muesli, raisin bread, crumpets, sourdough, spreads, yogurt, seasonal fruits, and fruit juices.

On Tuesday, you will receive a picnic lunch to take with you on your first excursion, many guests enjoy Healesville Sanctuary or Puffing Billy or exploring some of the beautiful national parks. Your picnic will have a wrap or focaccias with your filling choice of: Salmon, cream cheese with rocket, or chicken, avocado with cheese and mayonnaise, or ham and salad, or plain salad. There will also be chocolates, muesli bars, fresh fruit and drinks.

There will be array of pre-dinner cheese, crackers, and antipasto accompanied with wine of your choice.

Dinner on night 2 is a choice of salmon or chicken schnitzel with seasonal vegetables and salad, followed by an indulgent homemade chocolate cake with cream and ice cream.

On Wednesday, we normally do not provide lunch on this day (lunches can be made for you on request at additional cost). This is to offer you the opportunity to have the choice of lunch at locally acclaimed restaurant ‘Elevation’, visit a local winery, or visit the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie, where you can experience anything and everything chocolate! Full of food and relaxation, you will come home for your private riding lesson to continue developing your riding skills. At 6 p.m., Avoca Park will bring on the happy hour, followed by another wonderfully prepared mexican night with burritos, followed by a fruit platter with cream or ice cream.

On your last full day, after your breakfast and first riding lesson,we will provide another picnic lunch for you to enjoy in your adventures. Emerald Lake is a beautiful destination of Puffing Billy or you can visit it directly. Your final dinner is succulent marinated pork ribs with mashed potatoes and salad, followed by a homemade apple pie with ice cream.

Breakfast is provided on your last morning before checking out.

Please note meals bought when you visit a restaurant or chocoloteries are not included in the package (Wednesday’s lunch).

The following meals are included:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
  • Snacks
  • Drinks

The following drinks are included:

  • Water
  • Coffee
  • Tea

The following dietary requirement(s) are served and/or catered for:

  • Regular (typically includes meat and fish)
  • Other dietary requirements on request
If you have special dietary requirements it's a good idea to communicate it to the organiser when making a reservation

Things to do (optional)

Avoca Park can cater to day trips if you would like to experience the amazing Yarra Ranges during your stay. Let them know if you are interested.

Avoca Park has other amazing local experiences, some of the things they can offer you are:

Puffing Billy

This is Australia’s favorite steam train and is one of the finest preserved steam railways in the world. This century-old steam train is still running on its original 24-kilometer mountain track from Belgrave to Gembrook, through the beautiful forests and fern gullies of the Dandenong Ranges.

Healesville Sanctuary

Wander through the tranquil tracks and meet over 200 species of Australian animals, including the iconic koalas, kangaroos, platypus, dingoes, wombats, and emus, in their natural surrounds. It is internationally renowned for its work saving endangered Australian species at the Australian Wildlife Center. Visit the center, which treats more than 2000 sick and injured native animals every year.

Skin Renaissance

Situated in the heart of Emerald, Victoria, nestled in the forests of the Dandenong Ranges, it offers complete health, wellness, anti-aging, and beauty experience combining natural treatments with the latest cutting-edge therapies from Europe. Relax, refresh, and rejuvenate as you experience their luxurious facial, body, and massage therapies in a tranquil environment. Be revived and replenished with one of their pamper packages or they can tailor a package to suit your individual needs. This is a place to immerse yourself and indulge in treatments that are therapeutic and restorative for your total well-being.

Yarra Valley Chocolaterie Ice Creamery

Set on 16 hectares, it combines striking architecture with a unique food experience amidst picturesque valley views. The Chocolaterie welcomes you with free entry and abundant free chocolate tastings, displays of thousands of premium chocolates, and large viewing windows where you can see European chocolatiers at work handcrafting creations.

Other activities

  • Cafes
  • Hot-air ballooning
  • Trails
  • Walks
  • Wineries

What's included

  • 2 Dressage lessons per day
  • Approximate daily riding time: 6 hours
  • A tourist outing each day over lunchtime
  • Lessons in Cavesson, In Hand, and Ridden
  • Horsemanship lessons in Liberty and Groundwork
  • All daily meals provided by a qualified chef
  • Social activities in the evening
  • 4 nights accommodation

What's not included

  • Airfare
  • Airport transfers
  • Alcoholic drinks outside Avoca Park and at restaurants
  • External activities
  • Massage

How to get there

Recommended Airports

Driving directions from Tullamarine Freeway

  • Travel on the Tullamarine Freeway into Melbourne then get on the M1.
  • Get off at Wellington Road and travel all the way to the end.
  • Turn right at the roundabout at the top.
  • Travel through 3 more roundabouts in Emerald.
  • Continue driving to Avonsleigh.
  • Turn left at a general store.
  • Turn second right onto Avon Road.
  • Continue driving till you reach a roundabout.
  • Drive straight through, this turns into Kennedy Road.
  • Drive to the end and turn right. This is Avoca Park's road, they are three kilometers on the right.

Arrival by bus

Get a skybus to Southern Cross Station, then a train to Belgrave Station, and then get a 362 Bus to Avonsleigh. From there, Avoca Park can pick you up at no charge.

Airport: Melbourne Airport Airport transfer available: Melbourne Airport (US$ 134 per person) Additional charges may apply. You can request this in the next step.

Cancellation Policy

  • A reservation requires a deposit of 20% of the total price.
  • The deposit is non-refundable, if the booking is cancelled.
  • The rest of the payment should be paid 14 days before arrival.

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