Saturday, November 10, 2012

Castellare di Tonda

Welcome Jess!
Nestled in the gorgeous hills of Tuscany, Castellare di Tonda is an equestrians retreat filled with all the amenities....

Where are you in the world?
I live near Florence in the region of Tuscany, Italy.

Tell us about your Horseback Riding Tours of Tuscany....
I am a guide at Castellare di Tonda, a 900 acre holiday retreat with a Quarter horse breeding stud and equestrian center attached.

What breed of horse do you favor best for your stables?
We obviously love our quarter horses (for their wonderful temperaments) but due to the hilly terrain, we often prefer to use local mountain horses for the trail riding (Fjords, Haflingers, Bardigiani etc). We also have a wonderful team of Criollo horses that are used for trail riding - these are perfect for nervous riders. They are just unflappable!

Do riders choose their own rides, or do you decide which would be the best ride for them?
We have two weekly riding programs to choose from, though if a client just wants a day ride, or to do lessons instead we can tailor make a program for them.

What is the terrain like where you ride?
Mixed. We have the classic rolling hills lined with vineyards and olive trees, but we also have wild forests, mountains and open fields. One of the nicest things about this area of Tuscany, is that the ground is made up of Tufo soil - a soft volcanic sand which is great for the horses legs.

What type of riding do you offer?
We specialize in western riding, and train reining horses for competition here onsite.

Do you have a favorite equine adventure?
I love riding to San Vivaldo, a local monastery. There is calmness about the hill where the monastery is situated that is very particular. The riding is hard (6-7 hours) but varied and interesting for both riders and horses. Lunch at the trattoria (restaurant) beside the monastery is also excellent - this is one of the best restaurants in the area, and somewhat of a local secret.

What has been the most memorable ride for you?
There are many, but riding to towns like Volterra or San Gimignano are always special. These old medieval towns make one feel like they have been transported back in time... and the sound of horses hooves on the cobbles only add to this special feeling.

What are your goals for future equine programs?
We hope to introduce more European riders to western riding, and also to show more international riders how wonderful the Tuscan countryside is when experienced on horseback.

Any advice for those seeking international Horseback Riding Tours?
I recommend going through a good riding holiday agency like In the Saddle or Hidden Trails. These agencies know their stuff, and guarantee that the horses are well treated (tack is in good condition) and that the rides are safe and professionally run. I can’t imagine anything worse than arriving somewhere on a riding holiday, and finding thin, mistreated horses or unqualified guides that put client’s safety at risk. We recommend In the Saddle…

Follow Jess and book a ride in gorgeous Tuscany…. 

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