Horses have been involved in the history of Scotland for thousands of years; helping us work on farms, charging into battle with us, but are now more commonly known for being a loving, loyal companion.
Nowadays in Scotland you’ll find the cute Shetland ponies, the hardy Highland ponies and, hailing from Lanarkshire, the powerful, yet gentle, Clydesdale horse, as well as many more, which you can see, pet and ride at many locations across the country.
1. Bring your horse on holiday
If you’re lucky enough to have your own horse why not bring him/her on holiday as part of the family? We’re not mucking around! There are several places across Scotland that’ll accommodate you and your horse. Craigengillan Estate in Ayrshire has full, grass or schooling livery available for your horse and cosy little holiday cottages for you. Along with 3,000 acres of woodland, pasture, wetlands, heath and lochs, there’s plenty to explore on horseback.
Further north, Highlands Unbridled in Tain, allows you to bring your own horse on their trail rides, on condition your horse meets the fitness and road safety requirements first. Crieff Hydro offers full, part, DIY, and grass livery and also has luxury and self-catering accommodation on site too.
If you don’t have your own horse, but still want the horsey experience, don’t worry because there are plenty of things you can do.
2. Horse riding
Horse riding is very popular across Scotland, with hundreds of centres and stables offering trekking experiences, lessons, games, and even holidays. Catering for kids and adults of all experiences and ages, each centre is qualified and approved by the BHS, so you can rest assured you’re in good hands. Explore Scotland on horseback and witness its luscious greenery and beautiful landscapes for yourselves.
3. Own A Pony Day
Want your own pony for a fraction of the price? Well now you can. If only one lesson or trek isn’t enough and you don’t want to spend lots of money, how about ‘Own a Pony Day’? Brushing, grooming, tacking up, riding and feeding your own pony is a great way to learn more about the animals in general and is also a great day out for the family. Most riding centres, such as Portree Stables, on Skye, will offer this but check with individual stables for full details.
4. Horsey attractions
Horse riding not for you? There are plenty of attractions and events taking place throughout the year that’ll still fuel your love of horses. Why not make a day (or weekend) of it at the Royal Highland Show held over three days in June near Edinburgh where you’ll see lots of animals, sample mouth-watering food, and get involved with Scotland’s rural side. Or how about the magnificent 30m high Kelpies, by sculptor Andy Scott? Located near Falkirk, these must-see masterpieces represent the mythical water-creature and the visitor centre offers tours, boat rides, group bookings and more.
5. Horse racing
If you fancy a flutter on the races, why not head for Musselburgh Racecourse? The prestigious 5-star attraction located only 6 miles from Edinburgh, holds races throughout the year, and its very own Ladies Day. There are also racecourses in Perth, Ayr, Kelso, and Hamilton with Ladies Days, and racing events held all year round.
Common ridings and horse trials are some of the oldest riding festivals in Scotland, with several being held annually! Hawick and Selkirk Common Ridings in the Scottish Borders are two of the most popular, bringing together community spirit, the town’s history, family, friends, and days full of fun.
Elsewhere, the Blair Castle International Horse Trials in Perthshire sees competitions, heats, and events that are both tense and inspiring to witness, with such talent and horsemanship, so book your tickets soon because they won’t be here furlong!
You can also find out more about Return to the Ridings!