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Horse riding in the Alps, Pyrenees and Highlands

If you are passionate about horses, you will agree that nothing quite beats the thrill of exploring on horseback. Europe assures a lot of interesting trails for the riders of all levels. Horse riding is a great way of exploring the mountains. There is something romantic and yet thrilling about heading off for a trek on horseback following the footsteps of early explorers and pioneers. No experience is necessary and a local guide will always accompany you! While sitting astride your trusty steed, you will appreciate the natural beauty of the mountains from a totally different viewpoint.
Normally, there are small groups of riders of similar abilities. French Alps are one of the most popular area in Europe where riders find the best terrain to travel around. Horse riding is very popular there, and the horses in the area are supposedly renowned for their gentleness and calm disposition. The main town in the region is Saignelgier. In the second weekend of August, the March-Concours National de Chevaux rolls into town, which is a giant horse market and show occupying an arena south of town with parades, races and celebrations. France is the country of all equestrian traditions. Whether you are a beginner or an accomplished horseman, you will find plenty to satisfy your desires during your stay there. You will be able to uncover the land of Vercors, passing between lavender and edelweiss or the Catalan hills between the sea and the mountains. The horse riding centre "Le Grand Veymont" recommends a variety of possibilities to practise this sport. You can trot into the nature reserve of the magnificent Canigou! The horse has a first class territory: the Camargue. Tourists can gallop along sandy beaches; on the beach of Espiguette you are bound to meet pink flamingos and bulls. Winter covers the mountains with snow, despite the silence all around, tracks in the snow are signs of activity which if you are very lucky you just might catch a glimpse of. 

If you really want to see the mountains at their best you may want to head just over the Swiss border to the Morgins equestrian centre where you will find horses ideally suited to trips up into the heart of these truly stunning mountains. Also in Austria tourists may enjoy horseback riding, for instance in Bad Kleinkirchheim - the area where The National Park extends as far as the eye can see. As you sit astride a horse, you might feel a little like John Wayne in his better days. Experienced riders can go on an excursion lasting several days and if you are just a beginner, you can learn to ride inside the safety of stables and riding schools. It is hard to beat the thrill of exploring wild valleys framed by rugged peaks where eagles and vultures fly over your head. These two trails in the sunny Cerdanya region, in the heart of the Spanish Pyrenees, are for anyone, from a fit novice upwards, who is looking for the exhilaration of a high mountain adventure. Not only is the scenery fantastic, but the standard of accommodation is high - tourists may choose from a mix of 4-, 3- and 2-star hotels along the route. During the stay riders discover green valleys, panoramic mountain passes, idyllic lakes, towering peaks and thick forests on a truly memorable trail. Naturally, there are ascents and descents each day, but the agile horses are accustomed to the terrain and cope well, giving you the chance to admire the breathtaking mountain scenery. With full days in the saddle, you often don't reach your hotel until late afternoon. However, there is usually time to stroll round the villages in which you stay before dinner. For spectacular high mountain scenery, tourists choose trails in this unspoiled border region close to France and Andorra. With its network of old routes through the valleys, Scotland is made for riding and trekking. A variety of Highland riding and trekking operators offer everything from short treks for youngsters and beginners up to long-distance rides over several days. Some activity centres specialise in particular breeds of horse - for example, Icelandics. Some offer carriage-driving, too. Other operators offer packaged treks over several days - including an east-west coast to coast trek listed among the top ten rides in the world. Scotland's particular advantage is that the sport of pony-trekking was originated here - specifically in the Newtonmore where the strong and sure-footed Highland ponies are bred. Whichever Highland centre you choose, you can be sure that the view from the saddle will certainly be worth seeing.

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