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Cattle Driving and Horse Riding Holiday UK

At Meldon, Dartmoor Riding Holidays have always used horses to move their cattle to their grazing areas on Dartmoor. They ride western on Quarter horses for their quiet easy-going nature along with their agility and turn of speed needed for any uncooperative ones. At various times, they invite guests to help move, muster, and check cattle; become a cowboy for a few days! "The fastest way to move cattle is slowly!"

Key information

  • Rider Weight Limit: 209 pounds / 95 kilograms
  • Horse Height Range: 14.3 to 16.2 hands
  • Tack Type: Western tack, English tack can be provided on request
  • Horse Breed: American quarter horse


  • Enjoy cows and calves cattle driving
  • Get to join the only cattle drive in the UK
  • Experience a fun Western horse riding holiday
  • You will have breathtaking scenery and surroundings
  • Delicious breakfast and lunch daily will be provided
  • Roundtrip farm transfer services are included
  • 6 nights' accommodation

Skill level

  • Intermediate
  • Advanced


5 days with instruction
Group size: Maximum of 8 participants
Hide all



  • Horse riding
  • Restaurant
  • Tour assistance

The Castle Inn

The accommodation is usually at the castle inn in Lydford and Dartmoor Riding Holidays uses them first if they have room, however, they have a selection of other local inns that they use:

  • The Dartmoor Inn - Very friendly with excellent food.
  • The Bearslake Inn - An old Devon Longhouse with low ceilings, a great beer garden, and an excellent restaurant.
  • The Lydford House Hotel - Also a favorite

Shepherd hut "glamping"

For Dartmoor Cattle Drive and Dartmoor Trails experiences, Dartmoor Riding Holidays can offer an "on-farm" stay option. They have two "shepherd hut" style accommodations; each is very cozy, one has a double bed, the other has two singles (linen provided); each has a wood-burning stove (wood provided) table and chairs, and seating. Outside, there is a fire-pit with utensils, etc for open-air cooking. Guests staying "on-farm" also have use of the beautiful guest lodge with kitchen/diner bathroom etc.


Driving cattle

Cattle respond well to being moved by horses. Horses are quiet and the cattle are used to being moved by them, the cattle are not threatened but have a natural respect for the horse. The horse walks at much the same speed as the cattle and often anticipates the cattle's movements.

The riders work as a team with most flanking at the sides of the herd with just a couple at the rear and one or two at the head. Each rider will have a position and a job to do, depending on their ability. There is always a lead cow she is usually an older matriarch cow.

Each spring, the young calves go out with their mothers to learn about their grazing areas, where the water is, and where to return home to. On Dartmoor, the herd's grazing area is called their ‘lear’, and each owner's herd of cattle will have its own ‘lear’.

Cattle driving year

  • May: Spring cattle turn-out - The cows and autumn-born calves are moved from their winter quarters up onto the moor for the summer, a distance of about 8 kilometers.
  • June: Bulling cow muster - Some spring-calving cows need to be brought down to the farm to run with the bull for the summer.
  • July: Calf weaning muster - The cows and calves need to be brought back to the farm for weaning.
  • August: Late summer turn-out - The cows that have been running with the bull, for the summer are driven back to Dartmoor.
  • Sept: Cow and calf muster - The freshly calved cows need to come down to better grazing near the farm as winter approaches.

The riding

The riding is all western on a mix of Quarter horses and Paints. Dartmoor Riding Holidays is a genuine working farm, there’s no head-to-tail riding, and all the horses are very well-mannered, forward-going, fit, and used to the Dartmoor terrain. Riders need to be reasonably fit and at least an intermediate standard or better.

The terrain involves crossing streams, shallow rivers, undulating ground, and up and down steep inclines and would not be suitable for novice or inexperienced riders. After riding tea/cakes etc are provided outside under the ‘gum’ tree or inside if the weather is not at its best!

Your riding ability

"If you climb in the saddle, be ready for the ride!" The style of riding is very much akin to "Natural Horsemanship". Dartmoor Riding Holidays likes riders to be relaxed and ride with soft hands. They are not a riding school and they do not give tuition, the horses are fit, forward-going, and sure-footed.

For the rides, you need to be an intermediate or better. The programs are not suitable for novice or inexperienced riders. The age range is 18 to 70. Age limits are discretionary depending on rider fitness and experience, please send an inquiry for more details.

Quarter Horses

  • The horses

Dartmoor Riding Holidays has a selection of fantastic Quarter Horses and Paints; with their calm attitude and appetite for work, all are western trained, very sure-footed, a pleasure to ride and cross the terrain with ease. Heights range from 14:3 to 16:2 hands. They often start and back their own horses to suit the type of work, all must be sensible with good manners.

  • Your horse

Your horse will be matched to you as far as possible, they have a good selection but it is important for Dartmoor Riding Holidays to know your ability. A rider profile form is sent to all guests to complete prior to their arrival.

The intermediate rider

A rider who is confident and in control in all paces (including posting trots, two-point canters, and gallops), but does not ride regularly. The intermediate rider has ridden several different types of horses and can independently manage a horse’s care. Their seat is secure, they are able to control a horse at a walk, trot, and canter, and do not apply unintentional aids to the horse when they lose balance or become unseated.

They know how to rise or post to the trot and ask for and obtain a specific lead or change in the lead. They are capable of riding a less experienced horse and helping in that horse’s training. They are able to train/compete at a more advanced level with a trainer’s assistance. The rider is knowledgeable about different horse breeds and disciplines. He or she knows basic horse conformation and can detect lameness issues.

Sample schedule for May 5th, 2024

Day 1

  • Check-in after 3.00 pm Hotel or shepherd hut (glamping)

Day 2

  • Meet the horses, trail ride in the morning, introduction to cattle in the afternoon. Ride time approx 5 hours

Day 3

  • Moving cattle to different grazing areas on Dartmoor. Ride time is approximately 5 hours

Day 4

  • Day 1 of 2-day 20-mile cattle drive, ride time 6 hours camping out overnight. Ride time 6 hours

Day 5

  • Day 2 of 20-mile cattle drive, Overnight at destination hotel. Ride time 5 hours.

Day 6

  • Day ride home, 5 hours, overnight back at first hotel.

Day 7

  • (Sat am) depart before 10.00 am.


Breathtaking scenery and views

Driving cattle is immensely satisfying, doing something that has barely changed for hundreds of years. The type of country you'll ride over has some breathtaking scenery and varies through woodland, along valley bottoms, up steep inclines, down steep declines, across rivers, through rock clitter (rock-strewn areas), and over hilltops, where you can look down on everything around.

Nearby places

  • Dartmoor Railway, 500 meters
  • Exeter Airport (EXT), 50 kilometers
  • Granite Way cycle route, 300 meters
  • Meldon Reservoir - 15 minutes walk
  • Okehampton - 5 minutes' drive/15 minutes' cycling



  • Cycling
  • Horse riding
  • Swimming


  • Bar
  • Lake
  • Restaurant
  • River


  • Free Wi-Fi / computer
  • Local market
  • Tour assistance


All accommodations here are on a half-board basis, arranged by Dartmoor Riding Holidays. Breakfast will either be at the inn or the farm. Guests will be collected and returned from the hotels in the courtesy vehicle. Lunch will either be at the farm, a packed lunch, or en route at one of many fabulous local pubs.

Breakfast and lunch are all included in the package. Unfortunately, Dartmoor Riding Holidays does not do evening meals except camping nights. Guests are free to make use of the castle’s excellent restaurant or eat out elsewhere in the evening.

Guests staying "on-farm" also have use of the beautiful guest lodge with kitchen/diner, bathroom, etc. Dartmoor Riding Holidays will provide the ingredients for your breakfast, bread, cereals, milk, etc, and they will provide lunch on riding days. They don’t provide evening meals, so guests can cook their meals on the campfire or eat out at one of many local eateries.

The following meals are included:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Snacks
  • Drinks

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

  • Regular (typically includes meat and fish)
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)

  • Bathing in a crystal clear rivers
  • Cycling or walking to Okehampton
  • Exploring the granite area

What's included

  • Cattle driving session
  • Western horse riding
  • Breakfast, lunch, after-ride tea, and cakes daily
  • Evening meal on camping night
  • 6 nights' accommodation

What's not included

  • Airfare
  • Transfers to and from airport/station etc (available at a nominal charge)
  • Evening meals (where you'll stay has a restaurant)
  • Protective wear, i.e. boots, hard hats (mandatory), back protectors (optional)
  • Chaps, waterproof coats (slicker type is recommended)
  • Personal expenses

How to get there

Recommended Airports

Arrival by airplane

Please book your flight to arrive at Exeter Airport (EXT). Transfer from and to this airport is available upon request.

If you don’t want to bring a car (you do not need one during your stay), Dartmoor Riding Holidays offers a shuttle service from and to Exeter Airport (EXT) at a nominal charge.

Arrival by ferry/boat

You can arrive at Devonport in Plymouth. Transfer from and to the dock is available at a nominal charge.

Arrival by train

You can arrive at Exeter St. Davids train station. Transfer from and to the station is available at a nominal charge.

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 7 days before arrival.

Value for money
Accommodation & facilities
Quality of activity
7 days / 6 nights
from --
Saturday August 17, 2024
(7 days / 6 nights)

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