Linda is going to Scotland for 16 days and asks a bunch of stuff:
So here I am again getting excited about including some riding into my trip to Scotland. This will not be a riding-only vacation, but I’m hoping to include two to three half-day rides while I’m there. Physically I’m in decent shape and go to the gym regularly. I’ve already told my personal trainer about my plans and we’re including more core exercises and work on my inner and outer thighs. I’m also taking a spin class once a week to increase my aerobic conditioning because I know how much of a workout riding can be.
O yeah. This is where I’d recommend starting lessons ASAP so you can see which muscles on you personally will hurt the most, and you can work on those in the gym.
What questions do I ask stables to find one that will help me be a competent rider for my trip?
Heck if I know! I would tell them what you want, and ask if they can accommodate your goals in the time you have. Ask about schedules, price, etc. Ask them if you can work on a wide variety of techniques because out on the trail you won’t be *as* concerned about diagonals, etc., as you are about communication, control, and working over a variety of terrain.
While I’m sure I’ll have to do indoor and arena riding, I’m also looking for practical experience riding a horse on a trail with an English saddle. Is it naive of me to try to locate someplace that offers this option?
I don’t think it’s naive at all, because that’s what I do! The place where I am does EVERYTHING in an English saddle: dressage, trail riding, cross-country, jumping, games of skill, even the occasional barrel race. We also ride outside in every weather (sometimes bareback), which I imagine is very beneficial to what you want to do. I guess it depends where you are. Where are you? I guess my only advice is to call around. Experiment with what length of stirrups feels good to you most of the time — for an English-trained horse and an English saddle of any type, you will want the stirrups a good deal shorter than Western riders use them. You will want them short enough that you can stand up if you end up having to jump a ditch or something, but long enough that your legs are relaxed, and bent some-but-not-a-lot. Ask your instructor.
Any recommendations on riding gear?
Never get on a horse without a helmet.
You can get one for $50 or maybe the place you’re going will have them to borrow. You can also get helmet covers that are fleecy things that pull over the helmet and keep your ears warm when it’s nippy. A ventilated helmet will be cooler in the heat. Good fit is essential. Ask someone who knows what they’re doing to help you fit one.
Always wear gloves. If things get out of control and you have to really haul on a rein or a lead rope, the last thing you want to worry about is rope burn. There are lightweight summer gloves (~$25?) if it’s going to be warm. Plus, this saves you from sunburning your knuckles.
Wear sweat-proof sunblock and lots of it. Tie your hair back so it doesn’t blow in your mouth when you need to concentrate.
While I can afford riding lessons now, I don’t have any equipment. I plan to also be doing a lot of hiking and walking
I think you should be able to borrow whatever you need, with the possible exception of footwear. Ask around.
in Scotland, and since I am planning to pack light and carry it on the plane, I don’t want to bring hiking shoes *and* riding boots or any clothing that doesn’t have multiple purposes. I’ve been looking online and am hoping that a pair of boots like these could be dual purpose. (I likely won’t need a heavy lug sole for the type of hiking I’ll be doing.)
Gosh, I really don’t know. Especially for English riding, good footwear is essential. You’ll need a heel on your shoe or boot so that your foot can’t slip forward through the stirrup (you can break your ankle). You also don’t want a lot of deep tread on it, because you want your foot to be able to slip backwards out of the stirrup if you fall off (if it doesn’t the horse will drag you along willy-nilly by your foot — very awful; or if you can’t get your foot out fast, the horse might fall on top of you). If you have big ol’ Western stirrups, this is probably less important. If you are riding bareback or with no stirrups you can wear whatever you want.
It’s probably down to your comfort level and instructor’s recommendation. You can get ankle boots (search for paddock boots such as these http://www.equestriancollections.com/storeitems.asp?department=Ladies&cc=136 )
which could double as daily-wear shoes, and optionally pair them with half-chaps. I don’t know that the half-chaps are strictly necessary; I guess it depends on the pants you’re wearing. Certainly paddock boots + half-chaps might be cheaper and more versatile than good field boots.
Personally, if I were going on a riding vacation, I’d bring my own tall boots, helmet, and gloves, because that is what i’m comfortable in, and I would borrow the rest of what I needed. Maybe I’d actually borrow the helmet too, for space/packing reasons. Again, it’s up to you.
Are half-chaps necessary when only doing a few days of riding here or there? A pair of gaiters or gaiter-like gear (which is what half-chaps sort of are) could come in handy under water-proof pants while I’m hiking so I’m thinking they may not be a waste of money. And I may need half-chaps for lessons, too. I expect there to be days when it will be wet so I’m already committed to buying and packing some water-proof hiking pants; hopefully I can also use them while riding if we’re out on a wet day.
If you take lessons somewhere, they probably have guidelines about this.
Do you do much riding outside in the wet? What do you recommend to wear when just getting into riding?
Layers. Lots of layers. Remember that cotton and wool are crap when wet. I wear underarmour underwear (compression gear or heat gear) to wick away the sweat, and in the winter I put long underwear over all that. Then come my riding tights, and then sometimes another pair of extra pants over that to stay warm and dry. layers on top, too! Bring extra socks! A headband or bandanna is very useful.
Maybe I’m over-thinking the preparation for this particular trip, but I am hoping to include some horsey-type vacationing and leisure more regularly in my life. Any advice you can share — even if it is just suggested forums where I can ask more people for advice like this — will be very helpful.
I’m sure there are forums but I’m not on them so I don’t know. Good luck, it sounds like so much fun!!
Can anybody fill in the missing gaps for Linda?