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Top Destinations for Horse Riding in Winter

by Octavia Drughi

The go-to resource for planning your horse riding holidays. Find all you need to know about the top destinations and take your riding skills to new heights.
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There’s something magical about heading out on horseback in the crisp morning air, on snow-covered tracks, with nothing but the crunch of hooves to break the silence.

As the temperatures drop, there’s no need to put your favorite equestrian activities on hold. With the right care and attention, for both horse and rider, winter riding can be a very enjoyable experience.

While it’s true that some equestrian centers close during the cold months, there are many that stay open and welcome guests with fit horses that are well-equipped for the cold. The trails may be shorter and less strenuous, but they are nonetheless spectacular. Furthermore, there are plenty of exciting winter sports that you can partake in when you’re not riding.

Dreaming of frolicking in the snow with your equine companion against a sweeping scenery? From winter wonderlands to warmer places (in case you want to escape the low temperatures), here are the best destinations for a magical horse riding holiday in winter:

Note: BookHorseRidingHolidays offers a flexible cancellation policy. Should you not be able to travel as scheduled, we’d be happy to help you alter your booking with the same organizer or a different organizer.

 

United Kingdom

horse-winter-england-uk

Britain has a special relationship with horses. Numerous native breeds, such as the English Thoroughbred, Welsh Cob, Hackney, Dartmoor, Exmoor, Fell, and Dales, just to name a few, roam these lands steeped in history and legend.

Horse riding is a popular outdoor activity in the United Kingdom, and winter hardly ever gets in the way of equine enthusiasts. On weekend breaks or week-long holidays, the authentic UK countryside is best explored on horseback, no matter the season.

Gentle rural lanes through unbroken countryside, miles upon miles of open moorland, imposing tors, sparkling streams, and charming forests simply beckon you to ride. 

Therefore, there is no shortage of remarkable places worth adding to your winter travel bucket list.

Famous for its spectacular coastline and Celtic ruins, Cornwall has the sunniest and most temperate climate in England, which makes it a great destination for horse riding in winter.

Dartmoor National Park, in Devon, is special all year round. But in winter, the landscape is even more dramatic, with heavy mists covering the empty moors, frosty paths, occasional fallen snow, and wild ponies roaming freely. After the ride, get some well-deserved comfort food by the fireplace at the remote pubs in the area.

Exmoor offers some of the best countryside riding in the world. In winter, it maintains its rugged natural beauty, with hardy Exmoor ponies roaming the quiet moorland.

In Wales, Brecon Beacons, Pembrokeshire, and Snowdonia turn into winter wonderlands. Walk or trot on long and gentle snowy trails, warming up at the cozy pubs along the way.

The Lake District has the highest number of bridleways in the UK. It is spectacular in summer, but the winter mist and drizzle only seem to add to its charm.

In the Scottish Highlands, Cairngorms National Park is famous for its winter sports, as well as its scenic snowy landscapes that can be explored on horseback.

» READ MORE: Top Places to Go on a Horse Riding Holiday in the UK

 

USA

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Image credit: Vista Verde Guest Ranch

Ranch vacations are not reserved for summer. As soon as the American West gets covered in blankets of snow, there are plenty of exciting activities for you to enjoy at a ranch.

These vacations are a great option for families and groups. In winter, riders can venture on snowy mountain trails, wilderness pack trips, or cattle drives. In addition, riders and non-riders alike can go skiing, ice fishing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, dog sledding, ice skating, Nordic skiing, cross-country skiing, snow tubing, or sleigh riding under star-lit skies.

Across the States, many ranches combine the great outdoors with gourmet food, luxury, and Old West vibes. Play in the snow, stay in warm and cozy cabins, enjoy the premium ranch cuisine, and get pampered.

Wyoming, the “Cowboy State”, with its snow-capped mountains, Yellowstone National Park, and world-famous ski resorts, truly is a winter wonderland. Here, you can immerse in the authentic cowboy lifestyle on a genuine working horse ranch, even in the midst of winter.

Get your dose of winter sunshine and awe-inspiring vistas. Winters in Colorado are not as harsh, but there is a lot of snow. Riding on trails covered in fresh powder, against the snow-capped Rocky Mountains, is an adventure not to be missed. This is a wonderful opportunity to spot spectacular wildlife and experience the cowboy culture and Western riding at its best.

About a quarter of the state of Montana is covered in national parks and public land, which gives horse riders plenty of room to ride freely through unspoiled nature. In winter, the local wildlife is easier to spot – deer, elk, and bison stand out in the white vastness. Plus, you can combine horse riding with visits to the famous ski resorts. 

If you’re looking to beat the winter blues, head to warm Arizona, which enjoys 300+ days of sunshine per year. You’ll soon forget that it’s winter in the rest of the country.

» READ MORE: Top 5 Destinations for a Ranch Vacation in the USA

 

Iceland

icelandic-horses-winter-iceland

On the edge of the Arctic Circle, the Land of Fire and Ice conjures images of volcanoes, geysers, lava fields, waterfalls, glaciers, fjords, and snowy mountains. It is a fascinating canvas of otherworldly landscapes interwoven with Viking sagas and Norse mythology.

There’s probably no better way to explore Iceland’s unspoiled natural beauty than on horseback. Horses are an integral part of the country’s cultural heritage. The sturdy and gentle Icelandic horses were brought by early Viking settlers and are one of the world’s purest breeds. They are well adapted to the tough environment and can withstand even the harshest of winters.

Although some attractions either close or become inaccessible in winter, there are some that remain open, especially those near Reykjavík. Numerous equestrian centers and farms offer guided horse rides all year round. The highest concentration can be found at the outskirts of the capital, or within an hour or two driving distance.

In winter, besides horse riding through the snowy landscapes, there are numerous other fun activities to enjoy, such as skiing, dog sledding, ice fishing, snowmobiling, or snowshoeing. And what better way to warm up and recharge than by soaking in the hot springs after an exciting day out?

What’s more, peak visibility for the Northern Lights is between December and February. This is your best chance to ride a horse under the Aurora Borealis!

» READ MORE: The Best Horse Riding Destinations in Iceland

 

Sweden

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Image credit: Horses of Taiga

From forest and mountain trails to open meadows and all the way to the beach, the sheer vastness of this Scandinavian country makes it a paradise for equine enthusiasts.

For a truly spectacular winter wonderland, head on over to Lappland, the Arctic part of Sweden, a culture-rich area that’s home to the Sami people. Escape the touristic areas, disconnect from your daily routine and explore the boreal forest on snowy tracks atop strong Nordic horses.

Winters in Sweden are often regarded as long and dark, but they have their own magic. Frozen lakes, crisp snow, and regular sightings of the Northern Lights are among the highlights; not to mention that the country is a paradise for winter sports enthusiasts. Besides horse riding, you can enjoy dog sledding, reindeer sledding, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, skiing, or snowboarding.

In the far north of the Swedish Lappland, in Kiruna, you can opt to spend a week with a Sami family, who will guide you on horseback through their homeland. This is a great opportunity to immerse in the fascinating Sami culture and even participate in reindeer herding.

 

Spain

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Image credit: El Anadio

Spain’s varied landscape, beautiful peaks of Sierra Nevada and the Pyrenees, charming Mediterranean shores, medieval castles, ancient walled towns, rich history and tradition, as well as delicious food, have fascinated artists for centuries. They also attract nature lovers and equine enthusiasts.

The country has a strong relationship with horses dating back to ancient times. Magnificent Andalusian horses take riders on old bridle paths through national parks, enchanted forests, olive and orange groves, away from traffic and mass tourism. And Spain’s climate allows for year-round horse riding.

Throughout much of the winter, riding conditions are simply fabulous in Andalusia, with mild temperatures and plenty of sunshine. There are numerous mountain and coastal trails that you can enjoy even when it’s cold in the rest of Europe.

Walk and trot freely, under a clear blue sky, against snow-capped mountains, at the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. Ride through the remote and impressive Alpujarras, a culturally and historically rich area on the southern slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

Horse riding is deeply rooted in Andalusia’s culture, perhaps more so than anywhere else in the country. While here, set aside some time to visit the Royal Spanish Riding School in Jerez and watch magnificent Andalusian horses perform stunning maneuvers in complex shows.

» READ MORE: The Best Places to Go on a Horse Riding Holiday in Spain

 

Portugal

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Image credit: Patio Horse Lodge

Looking for a warmer destination for a horse riding holiday during the cold months? Head on over to Portugal and get your dose of winter sunshine!

The country’s magnificent weather and varied terrain make it a great destination for year-round horse riding.

Portugal has a special relationship with horses, with a strong equestrian tradition dating back to pre-Roman times. Numerous dressage centers and stud farms welcome guests year-long, offering lessons from leading riders on famed Lusitano horses and guided trails.

Hop on the graceful and agile Lusitano horse and ride through charming forests, lush valleys, olive and orange groves, along rivers and gorgeous beaches, even in the midst of winter. Pass by traditional villages and fascinating cities and indulge in the traditional Portuguese comfort food and scrumptious wines.

Just outside of Lisbon, there are numerous riding centers offering guided horse rides through vineyards, olive groves, cork oak, pine, and eucalyptus forests, against mountain views and along rugged coastlines.

South of Lisbon, Alentejo is the greenest area in Portugal. Ride on awe-inspiring coastal trails and discover vast pine and cork oak forests on horseback.

In the south, the warm and sunny Algarve is particularly appealing for a winter escapade on horseback. While galloping on its sandy beaches, past towering cliffs and hidden coves, you’ll find it hard to believe it’s winter in the rest of Europe.

» READ MORE: Portugal's Must Experience Horse Riding Destinations

 


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