Telegraph Travel Feature – Riding Holiday with Special Needs

By |2019-09-27T11:25:34+00:00February 15th, 2019|

Careful planning let my sister achieve her dream' – a siblings-only holiday horse riding in Dartmoor In a rare moment of peace, my sister Tamsin and I sat side-by-side on our horses at the top of North Hessary Tor. It was early morning. The curling Dartmoor mist had receded to the valleys and the rolling hills beckoned with tufty grasses and mysterious megalithic monuments. Everything was still. One of the horses harrumphed and a ground nesting bird chirped as it took sudden flight. Tamsin is autistic so travelling hasn’t always been easy; she doesn’t cope very well with change and gets anxious in unfamiliar places. I wasn’t sure if I could pull off a holiday on our own. Those with close relatives on the spectrum will know the stomach-churning struggle: tantrums under restaurant tables, arguments over wearing suitable clothes, refusing to get off the floor of a plane aisle – refusing to get on the plane at all (New Zealand, 2011). And if it’s not the constant stares and the terrible arguments we’ve had with strangers who don’t understand that Tamsin doesn’t have an “indoor voice” (especially because they see she’s a 24-year-old adult), it’s the feeling of constantly needing to apologise. Next usually comes the gut-wrenching guilt after an unfair snap at her to – for goodness sake – shut up and get on with it. As frustrating as it’s been, the laughs outweigh the tears. At times she’s had my 21-year-old brother and me in such uncontrollable states of laughter that my parents have publicly told us off for behaving badly (most recently in Puglia, 2018. I was 28.) In fact, Puglia is very close to our hearts. My parents tackled the holiday [...]

Moor adventures on horseback – by Sydney Morning Herald

By |2019-09-27T10:47:15+00:00June 1st, 2017|

"Everyone thought I was madder than a box of frogs," laughs Elaine Prior, describing the reaction to her idea of running horse riding holidays on Dartmoor National Park. Not only did she have to get permission from the park's governing authority but she also needed the thumbs up from the Duchy of Cornwall – the vast estate owned and operated by the Prince of Wales. A formidable task for most people, but not for Prior, whose indomitable spirit and boundless enthusiasm could convince NASA to run pony treks on Mars. Dartmoor is one of England's last true wildernesses, a 954-square-kilometre landscape of sweeping valleys, marshy peat bogs and exposed granite hilltops called tors. In the southwest of the country, it's a mysterious, mythological place, often swathed in mist and prone to capricious bouts of weather   Most visitors tour the area by car or coach. Which is a shame because they miss out on much of its drama because the handful of roads that criss-cross the park are often lined with stone walls and hedges. Prior wants people to "engage with the landscape", to get them out and about in this haunting scenery and what better way than on horseback. There's only one problem. Her rides are designed for experienced riders who are in "full control of a forward going horse at all paces in wide open spaces". The fact that I have little idea what that statement means tells you all you need to know about my horsemanship.   Of course, in Priorworld, this is not a problem. Her company, Liberty Trails, often caters for couples where one party is more experienced than the other and [...]

Holidaying with your Horse

By |2019-09-27T10:41:36+00:00April 28th, 2017|

If going on holiday is the third most traumatic thing you can do after getting divorced and moving house, adding a horse to the equation may sound like madness. That frenzied hunt for camera chargers, the desperate cramming of implausible amounts of luggage into the car, the realisation that the planned time of departure passed 90mins ago — let’s face it, holidays are stressful enough.  Yet for seven years I’ve been hitching up my trailer and taking my mare along with the rest of the family on our annual visits to Dartmoor or the Quantocks, and without doubt it’s doubled the enjoyment. Riders cannot visit the countryside without mentally sketching out their route across it on horseback, and as we all know, it’s the perfect pace and height from which to explore new places.   There are some downsides, admittedly. Even with regular rest and leg-stretch stops, there’s a limit to how far you want to drive your horse in one day. And if you take a lorry, you need to consider what wheels the family will use when you’ve arrived at your destination.  Those of you who feed and muck out daily may prefer a lie in on holiday, and to leave the horses to someone else for a change. And fair enough. But for me, who has always had to keep my horse at livery, it’s a novelty... And though I get up early to ride so I don’t eat into “family time”, an hour and a half of solitude in the saddle sets me up perfectly for a bucket-and-spade day with young children. I suspect I’d go mad without it. Make a booking As a working rider [...]