It’s always great to get good feedback, especially when you meet your clients on your stand at Blair Castle Horse Trials and then after some chatting and recommendations, they book, they go and they come home thrilled with the experience!
Here’s how Margot & Andy Bowker felt about their trail ride through the Gredos Mountains, near Madrid in Spain with Emilio and his wonderful Andalucian horses this summer!
Having indicated prior to our holiday the type of horses we would prefer, Emilio introduced us to our mounts on the first riding day of the holiday. He gave us a description of our horse, how they were best handled, ridden and what we should expect of them. It was immediately apparent that the horses came first.
Tack was standard English, with fly fringes and small saddle bags slung across the withers, just big enough for a water bottle, camera & small personal items. The leather was soft and supple, well cared for and the saddles were very comfy with gel seat savers.
During the week we helped to look after our horses, catching them (well really they came to us), feeding, grooming, tacking up and turning out, but always under the watchful eyes of Emilio and Mamen. We found our horses excellent in every way, well trained, responsive and fit. All geldings and used to living together as a group, there were no interaction issues, which allowed for a relaxed atmosphere for riders. Emilio chose well, our horses were well suited to our individual needs and we were very sad to say goodbye to Pistachio and Vetton at the end of the week.
The first and last days were slightly shorter and the first day was also the easiest of the trip, which was great as it eased us into the ride and our horses. The fourth day was the most challenging, with fast canters in the morning before a long climb in the afternoon, which got steeper, narrower and more technical as it went on, with lots of low vegetation and branches to negotiate. The horses were impressively sure footed on the rough terrain, but it was obvious why the holiday demands a rider with experience and ability.
We negotiated constantly changing scenery which was mind blowing. Oak and pine forests, valley floors, rivers, superb tracks, hills and delightful villages where we stopped for the horses to take long drinks from old stone troughs, essential given that it was between 30 & 40 Celsius at times. One horse loved to splash in the rivers and streams; we all got used to getting wet, which was good fun.
Each night we had excellent accommodation ranging from, 4 star luxury with air con, to small rural inns with great character. One night we stayed in a larger village where we practised our Spanish, ordering different types of beer from one of the bars in a lovely square. Each place was very clean and every bed comfy, important after a hard day in the saddle.
Light breakfasts suited us well, giving time to prepare our horses for the day. Fresh water was given out as we were waved off by Mamen, who did a great job of moving our luggage each day.
Mamen met us after we’d been riding for about an hour and a half, providing tapas and cold drinks. An hour or so Later, we sat down to an abundance of food and drink, beautifully presented and much appreciated. She worked very hard to ensure we were well looked after, putting up tables and chairs for us each day. Margot was delighted with the vegetarian options always being available, specially prepared for her.
The horses were well fed too, we only had our food once they had theirs. Lunches were long lazy affairs, allowing the horses to rest in the heat of the day and riders to relax, swim or explore.
Evening meals were good. Mamen helped us to make the right choices from the menus, looking after Margot, ensuring that the hotel provided a vegetarian meal for her. The regional menus don’t often include vegetarian options so this was excellent.
Beer and wine were always available at mealtimes.
Our hosts looked after us very well from the minute they picked us up to when we said our final goodbyes at the airport, Mamen was so welcoming when she first met us, making us instantly feel at home. Emilio and Mamen are a winning team, complementing each other very well. He knows the horses and the riding side, while she works hard in the back ground to ensure it all happens and that everybody is well looked after. Their grasp of the English language is brilliant and they appreciated us trying out our very limited Spanish.
Our fellow guests were great company too, as a group we gelled and had a lot of fun, as well as sharing our love of horses and riding. We had very enjoyable talks about our respective lives, cultures and interests.
In addition to the wonderful riding experience, we were given information about each area we visited, local customs, wildlife/birds. After picking us up at the beginning, we were given a tour of Avila, a beautiful old town and a great opportunity to get to know our fellow guests.
It was an awesome experience, from talking with Jill at Blair last year, the planning, anticipation, and the extra riding we did (prior to going) to toughen up our butts! Great communications from the start and plenty of pre-holiday information too, great value for money and we’re now looking forward to our next trip as returning customers in October.
There are still dates available this year to ride with Emilio and Mamen in Gredos on their wonderful horses. Simply click on the 'More' button below for more details, dates and prices.
Gredos Castles & Mountain Trails provide a Spanish horse riding holiday of a lifetime through the stunning Gredos Mountains in central Spain. As part of our Horse Riding Holidays Spain collection ... Experience Level