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7 Day Cattle Drive and Western Riding Holiday in Dartmoor, England

Dartmoor, South Devon, Devon, South West England, England, UK

Cattle Driving and Horse Riding Holiday UK

Be part of a team moving up to 150 head of cattle over miles of open spectacular scenery on top of your horseback with this holiday! You will be mustering and checking the cattle on daily basis. You will also move the cattle crossing streams and rivers, up hills, down valleys, and over the land that has not changed for hundreds of years 2000-foot up looking down on everything around you. Become a cowboy for a few days!

Key information

  • 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

Highlights

  • Fun Western horse riding
  • The only cattle drive in the UK
  • Cows and calves cattle driving
  • Breathtaking scenery surrounding
  • Limited spot: on-farm stay experience at a shepherd hut glamping
  • Transfer service to and from the farm
  • Delicious breakfast and lunch
  • 6 nights' accommodation

Skill level

  • Intermediate
  • Advanced

Styles


5 days with instruction
Group size: Maximum of 8 participants
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Accommodation

Facilities

  • Horse riding
  • Restaurant
  • Tour assistance

Hotel / inn option

You will stay in an en-suite room with color TV and Wi-Fi provided. All accommodation will be at the excellent Castle Inn and is on a half board basis arranged by Dartmoor Riding Holidays.

Shepherd hut glamping option

For this cattle drive program, experiences offered include an ‘on-farm’ stay option. There are two ‘shepherd hut’ style accommodations. Each is very cozy, one has a double bed, the other two singles, (linen provided) each has 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 access to the beautiful guest lodge with kitchen/diner, bathroom, etc. The ingredients for your breakfast, bread, cereals, milk, etc. and lunch on riding days are provided. The same as the hotel option, evening meals are not provided so guests can cook their own meals on the campfire or eat out at one of many local eateries.

Program

Cattle driving

Cattle respond well to being moved by horses. The horses are quiet and the cattle are used to being moved by them. The cattle are not threatened but they have a natural respect for the horse. The horse walks at much the same speed as the cattle and often anticipate the cattle movements. The riders work as a team with most flanking at the sides of the head with just a couple at the rear, and one or two at the head.

There is always a lead cow who the others follow. Dartmoor Riding Holidays' lead cow is called ‘Dunny’ and is a lighter color than the rest. She is a young cow, the job used to be her mothers’, a same colored cow when she was with the herd. Each rider will have a position and a job to do depending on their ability. Driving cattle is immensely satisfying, doing something that has barely changed for hundreds of years.

The type of country Dartmoor Riding Holidays 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. The cattle driving routine is very much governed by the weather, which can be changeable, occasionally preventing you from going on the moor. During any stay, you are free to take a day out of the saddle, if you wish, and explore the area.

Cattle driving year

  • May: ‘Spring cattle turn-out’: The cows and autumn born calves are moved from their winter quarters up on to 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 drove 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.

Riding style and required riding ability

Dartmoor Riding Holidays normally ride Western. However, they can provide English saddles if you send a request. You 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.

The style of riding is very much akin to Natural Horsemanship. Dartmoor Riding Holidays like riders to be relaxed and ride with soft hands. Please note that Dartmoor Riding Holidays is not a riding school and they do not give tuition. Their horses are fit, forward going and sure-footed. To be the riders, you need to be an intermediate or better.

As the intermediate rider, you have taken lessons or trained under a mentor for a while rides in a specific discipline (or has experience in several disciplines) and may compete. You have ridden several different types of horses and can independently manage a horse’s care. Your seat is secure and you would not apply unintentional aids to the horse when you lose balance or become unseated.

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

The horses

Dartmoor Riding Holidays have a selection of fantastic quarter horses with their calm attitude and appetite for work, all are western trained, very sure-footed and a pleasure to ride. Dartmoor Riding Holidays also have a selection of Irish hunters some western trained and some English style, all in pleasure to ride and cross the terrain with ease. The heights range from 14:3 to 16:2. Dartmoor Riding Holidays usually start and back their own horses to suit their type of work, all must be sensible with good manners. They also have a selection of other horses that can be matched to you as far as possible, that is why it is important for them to know your ability.

Location

This retreat will take place at Dartmoor in Devon, England, UK. Dartmoor is a fantastic place to ride. It’s one of the UK’s last wilderness and is best viewed through the ears of a horse. Here, you will take in the peace and sample the atmospheric beauty Dartmoor has to offer.

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

Features

Activities

  • Cycling
  • Horse riding
  • Swimming

General

  • Bar
  • Lake
  • Restaurant
  • River

Services

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

Food

Your breakfast will either be at the Castle Inn or the farm. The lunch will either be at the farm, a packed lunch or en-route at one of many fabulous local pubs. Your breakfast and lunch are all included in the package. You will also be served tea and cakes after the ride. Unfortunately, Dartmoor Riding Holidays do not do an evening meal. However, you are free to make use of the Castle’s excellent restaurant or eat out elsewhere in the evening at an additional cost.

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
  • Transfer to and from the farm
  • Breakfast, lunch, after ride tea, and cakes
  • 6 nights' accommodation

What's not included

  • Transfers to and from airport / station etc.
  • Protective wear
  • Chaps and waterproof coats
  • Evening meals

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
Food
Location
Quality of activity
7 days / 6 nights
from --
2020 dates
  • June 20 - 14, ‘bulling cow muster’
  • July 12 - 18, ‘weaning muster’
  • August 23 - 29, ‘calving cow muster‘
  • September 27 - October 3, ‘cow and calf muster’

 

2021 dates
  • April 29 - May 5 (Thursday - Wednesday)  
  • June 13 - 19, ‘bulling cow muster’
  • July 11 - 17, ‘weaning muster’
  • August 22 - 28, ‘calving cow muster‘ 
  • September 26 - October 2, ‘cow and calf muster’  
Wednesday May 5, 2021
(7 days / 6 nights)

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