How to prepare for your first horse riding holiday - tips and packing list!

Yes! You’ve planned your first horse riding holiday and you just can’t wait. However, what do you take with you? Well, I’ll provide you with the ultimate packing list and some tips before leaving to go on your first horse riding holiday. I’ve worked at a horse safari company for quite some time and have travelled and ridden in many different countries. There are some typical things people always seem to forget and some advice I’ve learnt through experience.

This article contains links, some of which are affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of my links, I earn a commission which allows me to fund this blog. I only post links of products I have used and enjoyed and that have truly benefited me on my travels.

Before we get started, there are some important things to read and check out first! The company or agency you’ve booked through usually provides you with a standard itinerary of what their safari, trek or holiday looks like. The eventual itinerary will probably be different from the example itinerary but the general idea will be the same and allows you to prepare for it. If you are not provided with an itinerary, you can contact the company or agency and ask them for it. If you’re looking to add on to your holiday, I have created the perfect itinerary for after your horseback safari in South Africa. Also, (and I can’t stress this enough) please check the weather in that specific area during the time you’re going, it’s not always hot in Africa and not always cold in Norway… Is the location on a mountain range? What is the temperature during the night? And does the itinerary say you’ll be having a sleepout under the stars? Before we start, keep in mind that you’ll most likely be moving around a lot and it will be really nice for yourself if you pack (slightly) light.

Ultimate packing list

Riding clothes

This almost goes without saying, but you’ll obviously need to bring your riding clothes! Make sure to bring your most comfortable outfits, you’ll most likely be making long days in your riding clothes and you’ll want to be comfortable. Ofcourse that does not mean you can’t look fantastic!

I always prefer to ride in long sleeved shirts as it either keeps me warm or protects me from the sun! I usually ride with long sleeves from Body Engineers and am especially in love with this one. The riding pants I use are mostly from Aztec Equestrian, I have recently purchased these leggings and can’t wait to try them out on my next trek. The fabric is great and has lots of ventilation, perfect for long riding days.

Socks!

I cannot stress this enough. Whatever type of holiday you’re going on, you do not wanna have to wear the same socks 2 days or even 1 day in a row. Whether you’re getting dressage lessons in a warm country, doing a long, fast paced day ride or trekking through Iceland, you’ll want to take at least 2 pairs of socks for every day you’ll be riding.

Hiking/comfortable clothes

For lunches, hammock naps or any moment you can get to get out of your riding outfit for a while! Also make sure to bring a swimsuit for swims out with the horses or a dip in the river, pool or sea! My favorite quick-dry, microfiber towel is this one.

Packing cubes

These are an absolute must to help you pack light and keep your suitcase or backpack extra organised! Don’t have packing cubes yet? Click here! Many people choose to travel more after their riding holiday. Therefore, you’ll be moving around a lot in (usually) a short period of time. By using your packing cubes so that you have a cube per destination has been a lifesaver for me. I would arrive at a hostel to stay there for just one night, and have to repack my entire backpack after just taking out a few essentials. If you have those essentials ready in a packing cube, it will save you quite some hours of packing!

First aid kit and toiletries

The company you’re riding with will always have a first aid kit on hand. However, it’s always a good idea to pack some of the essentials. Always make sure you have enough sunscreen and aftersun with you, you’ll most likely be making long days in the sun. Even if you’re not travelling to a particularly hot country, you’ll still wanna be prepared. Make sure to check if you’re required to get any vaccinations. Also, make sure to check if you need to bring any medication, is Malaria prevalent in the area you’ll be riding? Make sure to get informed about possibilities for prevention. The best (but definitely not only) prevention for Malaria is don’t get bitten by mosquitos! Make sure to bring mosquito repellent and a mosquito net. Also make sure to bring your usual toiletries ofcourse!

Protect your booty!

Over the years, I’ve seen some amazing solutions to painful butts after hours of riding. From sheepskin to bike shorts to coconut oil, vaseline and sudocrem. Occasionally the company provides so-called bumnahs for over your saddle, but it’s always a good idea to bring bike shorts with padding and some kind of ointment in case those long rides do make an impact…

Get a sim card

First of all, make sure your phone is sim unlocked. When you arrive at the airport or border of the country you’ll be riding, you can usually find a sim card for a couple of dollars. Use this card while on holiday, this will make a massive difference to your phone bill!

Choice: camera or phone

This completely depends on the reason you’re taking pictures; is it for professional purposes or is it for the memories. Nowadays, cameras on phones are usually incredibly high quality and editing apps are all available on your phone as well. When I started traveling in 2015 I still always took a camera with me, however that quickly changed. I bought a new iPhone 8 which took better pictures than my old camera and was much, much easier to carry around than that bulky camera.

Charging your devices

There are several options for charging your phone, camera or laptop. I personally love this solar charger by Anker, it’s great for off the grid riding for longer amounts of time. If you’re going on a shorter riding holiday or if you have access to electricity more regularly, you might want to opt for a (small) power bank. I use this power bank that has a solar charger as well, but only when I have some access to electricity (like once a week) as it’s not the most reliable. Also, don’t forget to check if you need a power plug converter!

Apps

There are an insane amount of travel apps but to be completely honest, I truly only need an offline translation app. It’s always a good idea to have it on you in case you really don’t manage to understand each other. Not all guides or staff at your holiday will be able to speak perfect English. I use lots of other apps while backpacking and camping though, which I also mention in this post. Another app I like to have while riding is sweatcoin. It’s an app that allows you to save up ‘coins’ for walking, and you can buy lots of fun stuff with your coins. Long rides ofcourse earn lots of coins.

Choice: jodhpurs and half chaps or riding boots

It might be tempting to bring your newest, fanciest riding boots. This is not a bad idea if you’ll be riding dressage for an hour a day, but please don’t bring them on your week long, 8 hours a day of riding holiday. You don’t want to do that to your boots OR your feet. Make the decision whether you want to bring half chaps or full boots. I personally always prefer half chaps in the hotter countries as it allows me to occasionally ride in shoes (with better ventilation) as well! I have had these jodhpurs for years and they’re still intact and mega comfi!

Helmet

Ofcourse, there might be the option to ride without a helmet, and that’s up to you. However, I highly recommend wearing a helmet. Make sure there is proper ventilation and preferably the padding inside is removable so you can wash it out! If you really want to wear a hat instead of a helmet, or just want to wear a hat in between your rides, then I have some suggestions for you! I have used this cap almost every day for 6 years, to the point where it’s now turned white from the sun. However, when I go on long rides in sunny weather, I always choose my leather cowboy hat. It prevents the sides of my face from burning in the sun and it usually has great ventilation to prevent you getting a heat stroke!

Choice: fanny pack or saddle bag

First of all, the company you’re riding with might provide you with a saddle bag, so please check this first. Otherwise, you can either take your own saddle bag or fanny pack. I personally love to take my fanny pack! Click here to get it. It allows me to have all my essentials on me while riding and while hiking. You can also choose to buy your own saddlebag, this takes the weight off your own body but is not very practical if you also plan on hiking.

Horse riding with a fanny pack in the Drakensberg South Africa
Horse riding with a fanny pack!

Travel insurance, cash and visa

Last but not least, make sure to check your travel insurance. It’s usually a lot less expensive than you’ll expect and it can save you so much trouble. I’ve had to use my insurance on countless occasions, like after I lost my necklace and after I got some of my money stolen. It’s also always a good idea to bring some cash in the local currency or US dollars in case there are no ATMs. Information about your visa is usually provided by the agency or company. If not, feel free to contact me and I’ll help you out as visas are occasionally a bit tricky to arrange.

I hope this article has been useful! If you have any questions feel free to comment, email or DM me on instagram, you can find my contact details under the contact button in the menu. If this article has been helpful please share it with your friends and don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter to receive more tips and be the first to know when I post new articles!

explore more

Inspiring destinations