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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-feet up looking down on everything around you. Undoubtedly, this will be an unforgettable horse riding holiday!
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. In addition, you can also choose to stay in a camping-style accommodation, camps out, in which you may ride to a fantastic beautiful camp spot which is located a few miles from the farm where the horses can be turned loose around you and then you can camp in traditional style. There is a nearby river there with deep pools to swim in.
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.
For this cattle driving program, the work involves:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You can arrive at Devonport in Plymouth. Transfer from and to the dock is available at a nominal charge.
You can arrive at Exeter St. Davids train station. Transfer from and to the station is available at a nominal charge.