First let me say that my husband and I love horses and love riding. While he is a very experienced rider, I am an amateur (at best). However, we continuously seek out unique riding experiences whenever we travel to various countries around the world. We do not like the traditional “touristy” riding where you basically play follow-the -leader with ten other guests while you go down the same path that every horse riding company in town uses. “Off Piste” truly gave us an experience of a life-time. NONE of our riding experiences, thus far, have even come close to the wonderful experience that we had this past weekend.
I will start with the horses...While I will not go into details about each specific horse (as you can read about them yourself on their website), I do want to mention that these are the most beautiful, well behaved horses that we have ever been around. On most of our other trips we had to constantly monitor the horses to make sure that they did not get too close to one another or that we did not walk behind them, etc. because they were temperamental and unpredictable. This was not the case with Longham Farm horses. We could actually relax and enjoy the ride. Upon arrival, we immediately realized that these horses are treated like their children and as a result the horses are just a joy to be around. My horse even nuzzled my arm as I walked by so that I would not forget to stop and pet her (and feed her an apple of course).
The Experience…I honestly don’t even know where to begin. We arrived on a Friday afternoon and were immediately greeted by Dave (one of the owners) with wine and nice conversation. We then were matched with a horse (based on our riding experience and preference) and went for an hour or so ride so we could get used to the horse and make any changes if needed. Friday night we had a WONDERFUL meal cooked by Dave’s wife, Ellen, who is actually going to be on television this week for her wonderful cooking skills and I can see why after tasting the meal that she prepared. It was delicious. The next morning we had a nice (equally as tasty) breakfast and then rode for about six hours (with a mid-morning break and a lunch break). During our ride were able to see lots of wildlife (Exmore ponies being my favorite…my husband preferred the Red Deer) and some of the most breathtaking scenery that I could ever imagine. I remember specifically telling my husband that “this is the stuff you only see in movies and think that it cannot possibly be real”. Without a doubt, we could have never seen any of this by car…only by horseback and only with a guide that really knows the area. Anyway, that night we returned to a nice Hot Tub (which was a true life saver let me tell you) and another wonderful meal. Sunday, we had a great breakfast and about the same amount of time riding, but it was a totally different route than what we took the day before so it was an experience in itself.
From the time we arrived until the time we left, the Linford’s and Jemima (stable manager) made us feel like we were at home. Since we are from the southern part of the United States, I can best describe it as what we call true “Southern Hospitality”. My husband and I were sad to leave but will be making another visit in the near future.
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