Going to your dream destination can turn into a nightmare if you choose the wrong time of year. So before booking your riding holiday make sure the weather conditions are right.
We see dates advertised for April in Kenya (heavy rain); June and July in Patagonia (snow and the ‘roaring forties winds’) and Christmas in Peru (sub-zero temps and snow) which are all evidence that someone hasn’t done their homework, or hasn’t experienced the ride themselves. Large countries can be particularly confusing: for example Brazil, the Amazon in the north (and in the northern hemisphere) has completely different seasons compared to the Rio Grande do Sul in the far south (southern hemisphere). You don’t want freezing temperatures instead of the sunny weather you had in mind. In the middle of Brazil lies the Pantanal, a zone of change between the rainforest and grasslands. If you choose to go riding to the Pantanal in November or December, make sure you’re a better swimmer than rider (The Pantanal is totally below water from end October till March). Some destinations, such as the Okavango in Botswana, are particularly confusing because there are several factors at play (local rainfall, rainfall in the mountains in Angola and the local level of the water table).
2) Destination knowledge.
Does the person speaking to you really know their stuff? Sending somebody on a trail ride is not the same as sending someone to a holiday resort. A trail ride will be your most fantastic holiday if the local organization is professional. Websites can make all sorts of promises, but there is absolutely no substitute for first-hand experience. Is the local organizer more motivated by your money, or genuinely interested in making your dream come true? Who is the trail guide actually going to be?
Go for it! If you’ve never ridden overseas, but have saddle-hours under your belt, then do it! It’s a real pleasure to see how things are done somewhere different: the breed is different, the tack and stable management system will be different, even the knots used will be different. But the end result will be the same as home, a well-mannered, forward going horse and a fantastic riding experience.