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Ibiza winter days out - Ibiza Horse Valley

Horse-trekking through the stunning mountains and forests of the northernmost nooks and crannies of beautiful San Juan? Yes please! This is officially as wild and free as it gets. Without question the most magical way to discover the beauty of Ibiza.

Ibiza Horse Valley, located near the charming village of San Juan, in the bohemian north of the island is admired, renowned, respected and much loved by all. Not least, by their herd of 9 magnificent horses, each rescued from a life of suffering, neglect and abuse by this wonderful local charity. Their treks are legendary.

Wholesomeness!

They offer a very special 4 hour trek that includes grooming and preparing your own horse before riding through the sweet smelling mountainous pine forests of San Juan. This week, Ibiza Spotlight went with great pleasure to join them.

Having not been horse-riding for some 32 years, I arrived in San Juan to meet resident 'horse whisperer' David and his partner Monique, feeling just a tiny bit apprehensive. Scarlett O Hara I most definitely was not!

Beginners Welcome

I needn't have worried. During the (stunning) 4km drive to the Ibiza Horse Valley, they assured Ibiza Spotlight that novices were very welcome on their treks, whether winter mountain treks, or summer beach treks.

With a discerning eye, David selected a horse for each of us. Mine was an extremely gentle, handsome, chestnut filly called Kawa. She was very sweet and, he confided with a twinkle in his eye, reassuringly slow. “Oi!” I exclaimed in mock indignation, actually very relieved to not have a frisky young stud on my hands!

Special Moments

The first activity was to groom our horses. This, for me, was a beautiful experience. I approached, gingerly at first, wielding nervously the brush that Monique had equipped me with. Brushing her like I would have cleaned a porcelain doll, Monique chuckled. “It's ok! You won't break her, plus she likes it!”

So, all the time talking softly to her, I gave Kawa a thorough grooming. She seemed so blissed out, she literally sighed and rested her beautiful big head on the fence, evidently immensely enjoying the pre-ride care. I found it wonderfully appropriate too, to do something nice for the horse, before she carried me generously, on her strong back, up the formidably steep looking mountain.

The activity furthermore, gave me a special opportunity to bond with the horse that was to be my partner and best friend for the day. My friend, Lauren, had the same experience with her equally beautiful horse, Bella and by the time half an hour had passed, man, woman and horse were all very comfortable with each other.

Expert Instruction

It was almost time to mount, but not before some brief but comprehensive horse-riding instruction. This part of the activity covered how to hold oneself, accelerate, brake and manoeuvre the horse. It was all explained so clearly, I felt confident that I could now begin the much longed for horse riding trek.

We were then kitted out with riding hats, mounted our horses, checking the stirrups were correctly positioned and we were off!

Connecting with Nature

Well dear readers, it was a magnificent, healthy outdoor afternoon of very happy horse-riding. The trek led high up the mountains above the valley, surrounded by the San Juan forests of Appello pine and wild herbs. We spent a large part of the ride in silence, somehow connected with nature, breathing in the pure, clean air and admiring the beautiful blue of the Balearic sea in the distance.

David's 30 years of equestrian experience really showed. Lauren and I felt comfortable and confident under his and Monique's watchful, expert eyes and before we knew it, we were back at Ibiza Horse Valley, invigorated, elated and extremely pleased with ourselves!

Freya

Later on, when we were returning the horses to the herd, I noticed one horse that seemed considerably more timid than the rest, Freya. She hung back, her big soulful eyes watching me hesitantly, before passing cautiously by the gate. I asked David what had happened to her. His face darkened.

“She was neglected and left without food or water. We have no idea what other kind of mistreatment she suffered. A neighbour alerted us, she was starving to death. We brought her here.” There was a grave silence. “She'll never completely recover and nobody will ever be able to ride her, but at least she will be loved and cared for now and finally be part of a herd, a family. She will have a good life.”

Ibiza Spotlight Advice?

Do yourself a favour. Forget towns and cities, forget the office. Forget cars and phones and T.V. Head down to Ibiza Horse Valley and remember what life is all about. What an absolute privilege it is.

Quick Facts

What? Ibiza Horse Valley

Where? The meeting point for the Ibiza Spotlight team was at the village of San Juan. From there it's a 4k drive.

When? It depends. During the winter starting at around 11am until around 3pm. During the summer, both mornings and evening horse riding treks are scheduled. Longer excursions are also available. Please contact them for details.

Why? Every excursion supports the work of Ibiza Horse Valley. These horses are cared for and rescued with your help and collaboration. In return, you will have a profoundly beautiful experience and see Ibiza in an incomparably authentic way. It's an absolute winner!

Suitable for Kids? Yes, from 10 years upwards. Maxumum group size x 4 persons.

Cost? The whole 4 hour activity, including instruction, preparation, kit and horse-riding is €80 per person. This helps towards the €220 it costs to care for each horse, each month.

Ibiza Spotlight Top Tips? Sensible shoes of course. Layers of clothing for keeping warm/cooling down. Loose trousers. Padded underwear!!! Please note that each horse can carry a maximum of 150 kilos.

Room for Improvement? It would be great if they had accommodation too!

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