31st January marks the start of the Chinese Year of the Horse. I’ve done some delving and it seems to be good news. Apparently the year ahead should bring health and prosperity and is a propitious time to travel, with the next 12 months bringing good luck. Well, let’s hope so.
On a more literal note, why not make 2014 your year of the horse. Whether you’re an experienced rider or a total novice, there are so many places out there where you can saddle up and take the reins in hand. There’s something liberating about sitting up there, looking down (or is that just me as a 5-footer enjoying the higher vantage point?). Anyway, whether it be an exhilarating beach crossing at full tilt or a gentle plod on a country track (I’ll leave to guess which end of the spectrum I’m at) or somewhere in between, there’s something for everyone, so let’s celebrate The Year of the Horse!
If galloping along the golden strand is your idea of paradise, you could do worse than choose the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius for your holiday in 2014. With miles of pristine beaches and accommodation ranging from homely B&Bs to 5-star resorts, this is the destination of choice. The beaches are perfect for splashing through the surf on your thoroughbred steed, the warm sun on your back. Heaven.
Fancy some culture with your riding? The Sacred Valley of the Incas in Peru has culture by the bucketload. This fertile valley has traces of centuries of human occupation. Atmospheric Inca ruins and archaeological sites sit alongside present-day villages with lively markets. The Peruvian Pas horse has a pace all its own, a lateral amble, resulting in a ride much smoother than the ungainly trot, just right for lengthy time in the saddle.
If you’re drawn to a gentler pace and like exploring new places, Lesotho could be just the ticket. The region is made for pony trekking – it’s how the locals get around, after all. The scenery is stunning, with open grasslands, dramatic gorges, tumbling waterfalls and a backdrop of towering mountains. The sturdy, sure-footed ponies are ideal for new riders and, with treks lasting anything from one hour to several days, you can find your perfect trip.
If you’d rather be at one remove from the horse, a caleche ride through Marrakech is ideal. Just sit back in the comfortable, bright green horse-drawn carriage as you process through the streets of this absorbing city. You can travel out a little further too, maybe to the enchanting Majorelle Gardens, or around the city ramparts. You’ll turn a few heads and you pass by!
Me, I’m a plodder, of course!