Spain Andalucian hills

The Andalucian Hills riding centre offer short breaks, long weekend or midweek, and small groups, maximum 5 people. The horses are Spanish or Spanish cross, born in the local mountains, and are sensible, ongoing and safe. All trips are guided personally by Karen Considine, who has ridden and worked with horses all her life in Europe and South America. She speaks Spanish, French and English. Non riders with their own car would receive a list of local sites and places of interest to visit. There are cave paintings, the fascinating little city of Ronda with it's gorge, Moorish old town and the oldest bullring in Spain. The Cork forest is a fascinating place to drive or walk through, going perhaps to Ubrique, a town famous for its leather. There are wonderful Roman and Phoenician remains everywhere, in particular by the beach at Bolona on the Atlantic coast. • If the non riders wish, we can set up a guided tour for them, taking them to places of interest of their choice and, where possible, joining the riders for picnics at lunchtime. In the evening they will be at the little village houses or hotels to greet the riders as they ride into town! Gallops for Gourmets and Mounted photography courses. Karen is constantly finding new rides and trails for repeat visitors.

There are several different rides to choose from: SHEPHERDS & SMUGGLERS , SWEET CHESTNUT & WILD LAVENDER, THE LOST VALLEY and CASTLE PLAINS plus a number of specialised themed holidays as detailed below. The one centre holiday, Shepherds and Smugglers, is available all year round except during July and August.Our other touring rides usually run March to June and September to November. There is one 7 day tour, a 4 day moving on ride and a 4 day one centre holiday and prices have been held for 2012. There is also a once a year opportunity to ride with us and spend a full day at the FERIA DE CABALLO in Jerez.

Grazalema Combination Tour April 2013 - This is a really fantastic ride and we have a few spaces available for the next Spring Ride. This tour is designed to give you two contrasting experiences, a real taste of the many different experiences and the fabulous scenery on offer in Southern Andalucia.
You will experience 3 days of the simple life riding on Andalucian horses high in the crags of the Grazalema National Park then 3 days riding in the Ronda Mountains with delicious lunches in local restaurants and luxurious accommodation in a beautiful cortijo. See below for the full itinerary.

Autumn Grazalema dates: 8TH-15TH October 2012

BANDOLERO (bandit) COUNTRY, a Photographic Adventure on Horseback with the "Andalucia School of Photography" Autumn ride: 4th-10th November 2012 During the course of the 4 days of riding we will be stopping to take advantage of all
the opportunities offered by these varied and beautiful landscapes; from wide panoramas of mountains to the sea and valley vistas of cork and chestnut forests. You may take intimate portraits of trees and streams and studies of ruins and water mills.Our objective will be to learn how to document and create a story of our trip/adventure.
It is not the quantity of photographs that we take but the quality. We enjoy the places we encounter through seeing and feeling, so using that seeing and feeling we will create lasting imagery in our photographs.For our lunches we will rendezvous in photogenic locations with Alberto who will provide tasty picnics. In the evenings we will enjoy a long relaxing dinner back at our base
in Jimena de la Frontera, where we will discuss the events of the day and review our photographs. A wonderful opportunity to experience and photograph the spectacular and rugged mountains of the Serrania de Ronda, home to some of Spain’s most notorious bandoleros. You will enjoy expansive views from the mountains down to the sea and across to Africa; ancient forests and mountain streams; white villages; a variety of scenery whilst the horses take the strain of the historic paths and tracks that we shall follow. There will be no more boring travel slide shows that your friends will shy away from.
The skills that we teach you will allow you to develop the art of creating compelling photographic narratives of your adventures from now on.Please see below for full itinerary.

Sweet Chestnut and Wild Lavender (4 days) Set date departure (intermediate level or above) or private ride.
We climb high above sleepy white villages and deep river valleys and into the secret sweet chestnut forests where the scent of herbs rises as our horses crush the mint and rosemary and lavender. In spring and early summer the mountains are like a huge rock garden with wild flowers and nightingales sing day and night. Accommodation is in a unique B&B, a small hotel and a ‘casa rural’ (village house).

Shepherds and Smugglers (4 days) One centre tour.
Novice level or above.
Guests come and stay in a picturesque farmhouse and ride out to explore the rolling hills and valleys, the ancient paths worn by generations of’ sheep and goats, smugglers’ mules and bandoleros’ horses. This private ride is ideal for guests who are novice riders, who don’t want to ride such long distances or are coming on their own. We can tailor make the ride each day for you.
Departures 2012. There are no set dates for this ride and it is available all year round, particularly recommended in the winter, an ideal option for sunny days and chilly nights. This ride can also be extended by one or two more days.

Autumn dates for booking - 1st October, 4th -7th October, 16th -19th October.Supplement for transfers for the above trips from and to Malaga airport 150 Euros. No supplement for Gibraltar Airport.

Check out what The Guardian had to say about the riding here.

Grazalema Combination Tour Itinerary:

DAY 1 You will be driven from Malaga or Gibraltar airport to the village of Gaucin where you will spend your first night in the welcoming Hotel Caballo Andaluz.Dinner, overnight and breakfast

.DAY 2 An early transfer to Zahara de la Sierra, on a spectacular lake surrounded by mountains in the National Park of Grazalema. Here you will meet Santiago and his Andalucian horses and start your trek with him as your guide. Santiago has been guiding in Grazalema for 30 years and knows it like the back of his hand!. You will spend the day with him, stopping for a very simple snack at lunchtime, and arriving in the forgotten village of Villalengua del Rosario in the early evening. Karen, your ride Andalucia guide, will be waiting with your luggage safely installed in cosy village apartments where you will spend the night. Dinner in a local bar or restaurante. Dinner, snack lunch, B&B

DAY 3 Setting off with Santiago again you will experience more wonderful riding in this very privileged area and this evening you ride into Ronda, a fascinating little city perched on a gorge. Tonight you have the opportunity to explore the town and choose one of the many different tapas bars and restaurants for dinner. Overnight and Breakfast, snack lunch

.DAY 4 A long and beautiful ride will take you back to Zahara where, saying goodbye to Santi and his wonderful horses, you will be transferred to Gaucin and your hotel for the next 4 nights, the beautiful Cortijo El Nobo where your hostess, Sally, will serve you one of her amazing dinners. Snack lunch, dinner, B&B

DAY 5 Transfer to the Ride Andalucia horses at La Almuna farm and set out with your guide Karen on a leisurely hack through the orange groves to lunch at a local restaurant or ‘venta’ beside the river. Canter back over rolling meadows and transfer to El Nobo for the night. Lunch, dinner, B&B

DAY 6 Another ride out into the beautiful hills and valleys, meeting up with a delicious picnic lunch en route! This evening you ride your horses to El Nobo where they will also stay the night. Tonight you will be taken to Gaucin to explore and have dinner in a restaurant or bar of your choice – and there is lots of choice! Lunch, B&B

DAY 7 Full day ride by the river with either a picnic lunch or a late lunch at La Almuna waiting for weary riders. Transfer to El Nobo for dinner and your last night in Spain. Lunch, dinner , B&BDAY 8 After breakfast your taxi will arrive to take you to the airport.Dates Spring 2012 9th – 16th April or 8th - 15th October 2012.

GALLOPS FOR GOURMETS

Summary Fly to Malaga and spend a spectacular week-long break in Southern Andalucia combining a guided mountain horse safari with a unique insight into the ancient cuisine of this fascinating region. Ride comfortable, ongoing horses through the breathtaking scenery of the ‘Serrania de Ronda’. Follow in the hoof prints of smugglers and bandits as you gaze down at the Mediterranean and Africa beyond or up to the rocky crags that surround the legendary city of Ronda. Ride through orange and avocado groves and on to beautiful, historic ‘white villages’. Find and feast on local delicacies while out and about and relax at home with our very own local Spanish Chef, who will lead you through a series of themed cooking classes and excursions revealing the best of traditional and modern Andalucian cuisine.

Skill Levels This is a holiday which can accommodate both riders and cooks from novice to advanced levels.Non-riders are welcome, and can be guided on foot or by car to our encounters with the ingredients for supper and join in a delicious picnic lunch or ‘raciones’ at a local venta!

Accommodation You will be staying in a magnificent cortijo built around a Moorish-style courtyard leading to a terraced garden and a spectacular pool. From here the awe-inspiring views stretch south to the straits of Gibraltar and Morocco beyond

Itinerary Summary Galllops for Gourmets

Day 1: Guests will be met at Malaga Airport and driven to their Cortijo where they will have a chance to settle in over a three course evening meal.

Day 2: Morning ride across the hills to see local honey hives and meet the beekeepers. Along the way see more local produce and smallholdings. Stop at lunchtime for typical tapas in one of the white villages. Return to an evening cooking demonstration and dinner based around local honey, herbs and spices.

Day 3: Today we spend a full day on horseback discovering the secrets of the Cork Forests. See how local pigs produce wonderful organic pork eating the acorns, running wild in this environment. Neil meets us with a delicious picnic and we ride on to a small village where we leave the horses. Transfer to your accommodation for dinner.

.Day 4: A very special trip to the wonderful little city of Ronda today where guests will have a guided trip of local wine bodegas and a chance to visit the fascinating old town. Lunch of your choice in Ronda and transport home for a cooking lesson based on meat preparation skills and dinner.

.Day 5: An early start to join the horses once again and visit a working goat farm at milking time. Ride on through beautiful countryside and over the old smugglers’ routes to the farm where the horses live! Transport back to base in time for a tapas lunch. Evening is free for relaxing and exploring the village.

Day 6: Today we ride down to the orange and avocado groves and lunch will be in a local venta. Then say goodbye to the horses before returning to your cortijo for dinner.

.Day 7: A wonderful day out at one of the best fish markets in the area. Lunch at a typical restaurant nearby and then back home for a Cooking lesson, all about fish.

Day 8: Departures to Malaga by taxi.

Join this exclusive tour from 20th -27th October. Read the Guardian's review of this holiday.

Guest feedback:
It was a fantastic trip, thanks very much for arranging it all. I loved every minute of it! Rachel. London

Your host:.Karen Considine is a highly experienced and multi-lingual equine guide who has a fund of local knowledge and contacts. Born in County Kilkenny in the heart of Irish horse country, Karen has dedicated the past three decades to working with horses, travelling the world with high goal international polo teams and loving it. Spain has always been a special place for Karen and she moved to Andalucia permanently a few years ago. It was then that she started to discover the truly spectacular and lovely riding in the ‘Serrania de Ronda’. She spent many months exploring routes with the help of Andalucian horsemen, muleteers and shepherds and created the rides in order to share her passion for both the horses and the region with her guests. When she is not leading tours she continues exploring so there is always a new ride for returning guests.


SPECIAL EVENTS:There are several once a year special rides. These include the GOYESCO CELEBRATIONS which take place in Ronda the first week in September. Bullfighting on foot and on horseback in the costume of the famous painter's era and wonderful carriage driving displays and competitions in the 18th Century bullring fill this week. There are parades, dances and all sorts of festivities. Horses, donkeys, mules and other livestock are bought and sold in the market place. We run an annual ride which includes this festival.


The Goya Ride
is three days riding, moving on each night. Then a visit to the horse/mule market in Ronda which is celebrating the anniversary of the artist Goya who was born here. On the last day, Sunday, we spend a day watching spectacular carriage driving in the bullring, lunch in Ronda filled with everyone in 19th century costume and bullfighting on horseback in the afternoon for those that want to see it. (This is an optional extra and needs booking well in advance).

Or come and see the wonderful display of flowers here in southern Andalucia in April on our SPRING FLOWER SPECIAL. There is also a once a year opportunity to ride with us and spend a full day at the FERIA DE CABALLO in Jerez. This year this fabulous fiesta takes place the second week in May.

The horses:The horses are mainly local Andalucian with some Criollo and Arab crosses. They are born and bred to these mountains, sensible, well trained, good natured and light mouthed. Great attention is paid to matching horse and rider.
English saddles are used with padding on the seats for long hours in the saddle and we have both neck and direct reining horses. Each day there are some opportunities for faster paced riding. .
All rides of more than 2 hours include regular breaks and all-day rides normally include a lunch break of approximately one hour. We ride an average of 5-6 hours per day, but please consult the individual itinerary.
Groups are usually kept to a maximum of four guests but exceptions can be made for private parties

Riding:No riding lessons are offered; Ride Andalucia is very definitely about exploring this stunning countryside on horseback.

Your guide:All the tours are led by the owner, Karen Considine: "I was born in Ireland in horse country - horses were always around, many for racing and point-to-pointing and somehow everyone in County Kilkenny seemed to have a potential Grand National winner in the back garden!
I spent over 25 years of my working life looking after horses – mainly other peoples as well as bringing on some of my own; travelling the world with high goal international polo teams and loving it. For many years I was based in Spain and always enjoyed it so moved to Andalucia permanently a few years ago. As soon as I arrived I found myself with some friends' youngsters to ride (the way you do!) and that was when I started to discover the truly spectacular and lovely riding in the ‘Serrania de Ronda’.
I decided that the riding experience was too good not to share and spent many months exploring routes with the help of Andalucian horsemen, muleteers and shepherds. Now we can have wonderful days in the saddle as I show you round. When I am not leading tours I continue exploring so there is always a new ride for returning guests"

Bandolero Photo Course Itinerary

:Day 1:Transfer from Gibraltar.
Arrive at Jimena de la Frontera to stay in an atmospheric Casa Señorial with your own private bedroom and en suite bathroom. You will enjoy Introductory drinks and a welcome dinner with your guides/tutors/hosts Sue, Alberto and Karen.

Day 2 (Half day ride)After breakfast we take a short drive to our horses where we will start the first leg of
our adventure from the Cortijo La Almuna at the base of Gaucin. We will ride through ancient forests and along the smugglers' trail, a narrow path that leads us to the famous white village of Gaucin, the balcony of the Sierras, looking south to the Mediterranean and Africa. We leave our horses at the bottom of the village to go up to enjoy a lunch of tapas in a friendly local bar .After lunch those that wish may take the opportunity to photograph the beautiful village of Gaucin with Sue, or polish up on their camera skills with Alberto.

Day 3 (Full day ride)We make an early start to take advantage of those photo opportunities awaiting us.
We leave the expansive vistas behind and travel down into the wilder valley of the Genal, through oak forests, past a “Calera” where white cal paint was made, and chestnut groves. We arrive at the valley floor and enjoy a picnic next to the River Genal, lined with poplars and oleanders, where kingfishers are often seen.After lunch we resume our trek along a country lane with views of the narrow gorge below. We cross the river to arrive at a fine example of a watermill. We join a spectacular path that offers impressive views as we make our way to to the picturesque white village of Benalauria, our destination for the day

.Day 4 (Full day ride)We ride up through the narrow streets of Benalauria, often meeting villagers heading out on their donkeys to work the land. Wild cherry trees line the route and in summer fig trees are laden with fruit. We pass a little factory that makes delicacies from chestnuts harvested locally and ride on to the crags above. Astony track takes us up to a saddle in the mountains with a birds eye view of the valley we are leaving.

Winding down a twisting trail we pass small meadows and pastures with ‘Encina’ oak trees, then continue down through increasingly fertile farmland to emerge in the little settlement of Siete Pilas, which means seven drinking troughs It was an important crossroads for the ancient drove roads where livetock were moved. We shall enjoy our picnic surrounded by an amphitheatre of mountains to photograph. From here we ride back along the cork cutters' track to the village of Gaucin.

Day 5 (Half day ride)Joining the horses back in Gaucin we descend the old road to Gibraltar which takes the same route as the village ‘Romeria’. This is the day when the local saint is carried by the whole village once a year to a sacred spot. The saint is of course flanked by Andalucian horsemen with their girls riding pillion wearing their bright 'flamenco' dresses.Down on the river the water sparkles, and the water birds and turtles enjoy the freshness of the green sandy banks of the Genal. Then, turning uphill once again, we climb back onto a high ridge trail with fabulous views in every direction that leads us back to La Almuna in time for lunch

.Day 6 Today we will review all the images we have taken, explore some of the software and finesse how we tell a photographic story. We will bring together all the elements that we have learnt during the week to create an exciting narrative of the 4 days' ride through the Sierra.For our final evening together Alberto will prepare another gourmet dinner to excite your taste buds

.Day 7Breakfast and transfers to Gibraltar airport.*All horse riders must be reasonably fit and able to control a well trained horse at walk and trot in open country. 4WD transfers for non riders.About the area: Jimena de la Frontera- SpainThe Photographic Workshops are held in Jimena de la frontera, one of the white villages of Andalucia. It can trace its history back to Roman times when the town was called Oba. It has since passed through the hands of the Visigoths, the Moors and finally Spain in the 15 Century.Located on the edge of the Alcornocales Natural Park, one of the largest in Spain, which borders the Atlantic and Mediterranean, offering views over the Strait of Gibraltar to Africa. There are cave paintings from the paleolithic period as well as many other archeological sites. The deep valleys and its geographic location create a subtropical climate that supports a great variety of flora and fauna. The forest is mainly made up of the cork oak tree and is one of the largest of its kind, being a major source for the wine trade. The forest supports an abundance of mushrooms that are harvested during the autumn and winter months.

Your hosts: Sue Callister - an exhibiting international fine art photographer, will beguile you with
her creative knowledge and passion for the medium. She is an accomplished horsewoman in her own right.

Karen Considine - our guide and expert horsewoman for the week, has been involved with horses all her life and is
highly knowledgeable about the area. She will regale you with information and stories of the places we visit.

Alberto Saro - photographer and accomplished chef, will help with technical issues.
He will guide you better to understand your cameras and how to to use them to their full potential. Additionally, he will delight your tastebuds by creating delectable dishes using local produce.Testimonials for the photography course:I can’t thank you enough for the wonderful week we spent with you.
Your enthusiasm of all different aspects of photography was truly inspiring -
I really learnt an enormous amount and also realised how much more I need and would love to learn (so will just have to visit you again!).......

Cathy A. Switzerland
This was a wonderful experience. I was so well looked after in a
fabulous environment. I have gained a lot from the tuition which has
enabled me to gain much more enjoyment from my hobby. Sue and Alberto showed such patience in guiding us through the course and their passion
was evident from day 1.

C Riches. UK
Alberto and Sue really put together the best possible package -
fantastic location, great intuitive tuition, amazing spots to put things into
practice and fabulous company! I had a fantastic break and will be keeping
in touch with them.

A Roy. London
Extemely positive. Alberto and Sue are both lovely, warm people. The technical aspects of the course were very well organized and presented primarily by Alfredo and Sue was very helpful with some of the aesthetic issues.
It was one of the best experiences of my entire trip.

E Schneider. NYC, USA

Riding Ability:

The 4, 5, 6 and 7 day SET DATE departures are for riders “able to ride comfortably and in control at all paces on a reasonably trained horse in open ground”. The PRIVATE rides are adapted in length and pace to suit the riders.
Guided rides are offered all year round excluding the months of July and August

The three trips offered above are all suitable for all riders able to trot, canter and control their mount in open country. There are a couple of horses also suitable for novices but total beginners would find the long hours in the saddle uncomfortable. However if there is a group of novices who would like to do the Shepherds and Smugglers' ride together then this can be adapted to less dramatic trails and less hours riding each day.

Getting there:

Fly to Gibraltar (less than one hour away) or to Malaga. Flights are not included. Direct flights from Jersey and Guernsey are availble to Malaga for April, May and October. Ask us about a package including flights if you are travelling from the Channel Islands.

Transfers: Supplement for transfers from and to Malaga airport 150 Euros. No supplement for Gibraltar airport.

Safety: Broad spectrum first aid kits are carried for both riders and horses. There is also a back up team in a four wheel drive that would come and pick up any riders who could not or did not want to continue.

Climate and Terrain: Most of the riding takes place on mountainous terrain, riding up to high ridges, on wide tracks and narrower paths. The going varies from sand and grass to stony, rocky trails. There are also some valley rides. Generally views are extensive and in every direction. (Do have a look on the website photo gallery.)
In Spring and Autumn, the climate in these mountains between the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts of Southern Spain can occasionally change unexpectedly from hot sunshine to heavy rain, although the majority of the time it is sunny and warm. In June and September it is usually dry and hot, 25 -35 deg.C

Riding: Your horses will be completely prepared and ready for you each morning and during the ride your guide will always be on hand to see to adjustments of tack or any necessities for horse and guest. On arrival at your destination at the end of each day’s riding every guest will be asked to help for 10 or 15 minutes until the horses’ immediate needs are catered for. Then your guide will escort you to your hotel.

Weight restriction: Due to the terrain, there is a weight restriction for riders: 85kg. With prior agreement, we allow a few heavier riders and charge a supplement for riders of over 85kg (c. 13.7 stone) as we will take a supplementary horse for them on the trek (20 euros extra per day). Top weight accepted is 100kg (15.5 stone)

Food: Guests are offered Spanish country cooking using local ingredients. The villages produce wonderful peppers, tomatoes, avocados and other salad and vegetable ingredients and the local Iberian pork that wanders the hills eating chestnuts and acorns from the cork oaks is the most popular meat. There are also sweet Mandarins, oranges, lemons, figs and cherries and many other fruits hanging from the trees in season. On some days typical ‘raciones’ and ‘tapas’ are served for lunch and your hostess in the Casa Rural cooks supper for everyone in the local bar.
Picnic lunches also consist of local ingredients and are never just a sandwich. Your guide will help you choose local wines and summer drinks to accompany your meals.

What do I need to bring with me? We provide saddle bags
All guests must bring and wear their own riding helmets
A vehicle brings on guests' belongings to the overnight stops. Luggage storage in Gaucin can be organised during the ride,.
All bed linen and towels will be provided.
Following a confirmed booking, we can supply a full kit list and can provide further information regarding what you might want to bring with you on your visit to Spain

What additional costs are involved on the tour?
There are very few expenses not included in the overall price of the trip. Guests will need to bring money for:
soft drinks & alcohol (juices and water are provided while riding.).
-discretionary tips
-souvenirs.
-Guests are responsible for having an adequate, valid insurance policy including cover for all the sporting activities that they are likely to participate in. Appropriate medical insurance is obligatory.
It is understood that guests are in a suitable condition to partake in a riding tour, are not riding against any medical advice and that guests know of no reason why they should not be participating in such a tour. Guests will be required to sign a waiver of liability at the start of the tour.