How can I travel in Europe on a horse?
March 11, 2009 6:49 AM   Subscribe

I want to spend a month in the summer either horseback riding or hiking/camping with a pack mule somewhere in Europe. How do I go about this?

I'm a fairly experienced rider, but I'm also asking this question for a friend who doesn't really know how to ride, and who would be leaning more to the pack mule option. We have limited budgets. We don't want to join a week-long organized trek. We will go anywhere that's cheaply reachable from France.

- Are there companies that "rent" horses or pack animals for that long?
- Would I have to buy the animal and then try to resell it at the end of the trip? Is there any way to do this fairly cheaply that doesn't involved buying an old horse and then selling it to a glue factory?
- How easy is it to find places in the countryside (wherever in Europe) to pasture a horse for the night?
- Where would it be easiest (country/region)?
- How much would it cost for the horse + tack + feed, etc?

- Do you know of any forums/resources where there might be more answers available?

- And most importantly, is this even remotely feasible?
posted by snoogles to Travel & Transportation (6 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I've read of people doing the Camino de Santiago with a mule or horse. It's not exactly camping, because most people stay in hostels that are placed along the route, and you go through villages and occasionally along highways. Here's a site that's selling a guide. A search on "Camino de Santiago horseback" or similar terms will get you a lot more information. There are also discussion forums about the camino.
posted by PatoPata at 9:21 AM on March 11, 2009

Equitours offers a few unguided tours; I know there's one in France (check out the RANDONNÉE LIBERTÉ RIDE) and one in Ireland. I have booked tours through them and HIGHLY recommend them. They just give you the horses and a map, and the places to stay are booked for you so you just turn up and everything is taken care of.

They're at

I would recommend doing it through a company like this, because you know the horses are well cared for, and they really match the horse to the rider. They have everything from "flying armchairs" to more spirited horses, and I have found that these horses are so experienced and know their jobs so well that they're all a real pleasure to ride.
posted by OolooKitty at 10:33 AM on March 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Here's the direct link to the France ride. I've been drooling over it since 2004, when I went with Equitours to Cappadocia and had an absolutely spectacular ride there. They're a highly organized company and they do a good job of identifying reputable operations in the destination country.
posted by rdc at 11:32 AM on March 11, 2009

Response by poster: Equitours does look great, but it's way too expensive for just a week. Definitely bookmarking it for when I'm older and have a fatter bank account.
posted by snoogles at 10:58 PM on March 11, 2009

Yeah, unfortunately most vacations involving horses are expensive; maintaining the creatures is pricey, as well as covering liability for injury to rider or horse.

I'll ask around and see if any of my horsey well-traveled friends have any less expensive suggestions.
posted by OolooKitty at 11:30 PM on March 11, 2009

Holy crap, that sounds like fun. Snoogles, get good at this, then do a MeFi horseback tour of French (or Italian) wineries. And reserve me a saddle.
posted by theora55 at 7:48 AM on March 27, 2009

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