Let your love of horses be the inspiration for your next trip
There is something special about horses – and once it’s got you, you are hooked for life. Human’s relationship with horses has been both loving and tragic. Humans have adored and over-used horses in peacetime and in war. A special bond is created between rider and horse that can tug at your heart. We have found some of the many opportunities to include your passion for all things equestrian into your next vacation.
Photo courtesy Corolla Wild Horse Fund
The Wild Horses of the Outer Banks
Wild colonial Spanish mustangs have been allowed to roam free on the Outer Bank islands and descended from a herd brought here by explorers in the early 1500s. Some are left to roam free, while other herds receive veterinary care and supplemental food, or live in pens to keep them safe from a nearby highway. There are different herds on different islands. Guided tours are available from mainland Beaufort or Corolla. Read more about the wild horses.
Photo credit: Appowoos via Facebook/Academie Versailles
The French Royal Pageantry
Located on the Versailles estate outside of Paris, the royal stables now are home to what the director of the Academie Equestre de Versailles likes to call “Horse ballets” showcasing elaborately choreographed equestrian shows combining the art of dressage, singing, stage fencing, kyudo (Japanese archery), and dance. The stables have been completely refurbished to hold equestrian shows in an arena that is a combination of rustic and royal – bare wood contrasts with murano chandeliers and their own Hall of Mirrors which mimic those found in the palace. Tours of the elaborate stables follow the show. The estate of Versailles is more than just a palace – it is a city unto itself and includes the stables, English style gardens, a historic carriage museum, and smaller mansions on site which give a visitor many options.
A Need for Speed
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada
Prince Edward Island has a long standing love of horse racing. Horse harness racing began at the Charlottetown Driving Park back in 1886 and has been going strong ever since. Now home to Red Shores – a combination of racetrack, casino, and restaurants to give you plenty of options for enjoying a day here. Even after over 100 years, the harness horse races are still the big draw for visitors from all over the world. Combine a trip to the outstanding natural beauty of Prince Edward Island with a visit to the Red Shores and admire the speedy racehorses. The Charlottetown Driving Park is home to the prestigious Gold Cup & Saucer race held during Old Home Week in August.
Photo credit: Flickr/DanielStockman
In the grand old European city of Vienna, known as home of the vast Habsburg Empire, majestic pageantry seems second nature. Their passion for horses dates back to the cavalry, and the royal horses trained both for use in battle and for a more docile use pulling royal carriages. In a wing of the former Habsburg Palace The Spanish Riding School holds regular demonstrations showcasing the elegant white Lipizzan horses as they prance with their high stepping gait inside the stunning regal palace. Photos are not allowed inside during practices, but the show will reward you with vivid memories.
Tradition Wins by a Nose
The Kentucky Derby is one of the most well known horse racing events around the world. The beautiful rolling green hills around Louisville host this iconic race with a week of events all around town beginning the last week of April every year. Events you won’t want to miss include seeing the hot air balloons, parades, attending food and wine events, marathons, fireworks, and the Great Steamboat Race. You don’t have to bet to enjoy the pageantry and tradition. Pack your best hat and be ready to sip some mint juleps on this one-of-a-kind special trip.
The Wild Icelandic Horses
With its mane blowing in the breeze, the Icelandic horse is the rock star of the equestrian world. This stocky, hardy, and calm breed have lived on Iceland at least since the 12th century when they were introduced by Norsemen. The breed is strictly regulated – no other breed of horse is allowed anywhere in the country. Even if an islander wants to take their horse out for show off the island, they are not allowed to bring it back. Once used to help herd sheep, now they are used primarily as show horses, race horses, or as part of the family. They are uniquely colored with more colors in one breed than found anywhere else. Read more about the Icelandic Horse history.