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  1. How well do I have to be able to ride to go on one of these holidays?
  2. Is there a weight limit on these holidays?
  3. Can I go alone?
  4. How safe are these holidays?
  5. How fit do I need to be?
  6. How do I book?
  7. How can I pay for my riding holiday?
  8. Paying in SEK/BETALA FÖR DIN RIDRESA
  9. Can I pay in Euros or US dollars?
  10. What sort of insurance do I need?
  11. What sort of financial security do I have when paying out money to you?
  12. Does the price include flights?
  13. What is and what is not included?
  14. What sort of accommodation will I be staying in?
  15. What about passports and health risks?
  16. General advice
  17. How do I go about advertising my riding holiday on your web site?

 


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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

1. RIDING ABILITY

We have horse riding holidays for all levels of riders, from complete beginners to professional riders. Some are fast paced and only suitable for experienced, fit and confident riders. Others will take complete beginners and teach them to ride in exotic locations. Like learning to ski, you will be surprised how much you can do in a week. Unicorn Trails is all about enabling everyone to see the world from a different point of view. For each ride we have tried to give as accurate an indication of the minimum ability required as possible, however there is no substitute to discussing it with someone who has actually been there and we encourage you to contact us and discuss your needs and expectations for the holiday. That way we can offer our experience and give you impartial advice to match you to a suitable destination.

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2. WEIGHT LIMIT

On most rides there is a weight limit due to the size/strength of the horses. In general this limit is 15 stone/ 95 kg / 250lb, however it may be more or less depending on the horses available at a particular destination. This is indicated for each ride on our website. The limit indicated may well be higher for experienced riders. It is more difficult for a horse to carry a beginner than an experienced rider who sits in balance. If you are an experienced rider over the weight limit please contact us as there may be a suitable horse available.

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3. TRAVELLING ALONE?

These activity holidays are quite different from your usual package destination and many people travel alone. We only cater for small groups so you soon get to know others on your particular trip. You are sure to meet like minded people and make new friends. On most holidays there is no single supplement if you are prepared to share with someone of the same sex. These activity holidays are a great way to meet other adventurous active people. If you are still hesitant we can usually put you in touch with someone who has been there alone, so you can talk over your concerns with them. Our horse riding holidays are very suitable for single travelers.

4. SAFETY ON THE RIDES

Horse riding as a sport has some inherent risks which is why safety is a priority with us. All our destinations are regularly visited and assessed on the quality and temperament of the horses, maintenance of saddlery and equipment, safety briefing for riders, training and attitude of guides/teachers, trail principles in force, communication skills of leaders and first aid/medical care available. Only those rides adhering to stringent safety procedures are featured in our program.

5. FITNESS LEVEL NEEDED

This depends on the ride selected and number of riding hours each day. If you choose a ride based in one place, it is possible to have a day off if you are feeling stiff or tired. The point to point trails require a a certain amount of riding fitness - even when the pace is not fast you may be spending 5 hours in the saddle. If you do not ride on a regular basis, we suggest you go for a few weekend riding breaks or full day rides to get fit for a trail. It is important to ride for 4 hours+ in one session, preferably twice in the weeks before your holiday. You will enjoy your horse riding holiday a tremendous amount more if you are fit. For those who are not regular riders we also recommend taking a seat saver along on your holiday - the Heather Moffat type with a suede covering and memory foam inner are highly recommended.

6. BOOKING A HOLIDAY

Before booking pease check availability on your chosen dates, either using our web site availability check or by contacting us on +44 (0)1767 600606 in the United Kingdom or by email to sales@unicorntrails.com.

To book simply complete a booking and riding ability form and make a deposit payment. This can be done on our web site or by contacting us. The deposit is normally 20% of the holiday cost but can vary. We will confirm this to you at the time of booking. If you are booking less than 8 weeks before departure, the full amount is due.

Once we have received your completed booking form and deposit, we will issue you a confirmation invoice. If you wish you can then book your own flights or we can do this for you.

We may be able to hold a provisional booking for you for a few days should you need to make holiday or flight arrangements before confirming, please contact us to arrange this.
Any outstanding balance on this invoice will be due for payment no later than 8 weeks before departure.

7. PAYING FOR YOUR HOLIDAY

You can pay for your horse riding holiday by (internet) bank transfer, cheque, debit or credit card. There is no charge for payment by (internet) bank transfer, UK bank cheque or debit card. There is a 2.5% charge for credit card payments (1.9% for Amex) and a £7 (in 2015) charge for cheques drawn on a non UK bank.

We accept all major credit cards including Visa, Mastercard and American Express. All credit card payments will be taken in £ sterling and converted to your home currency (if different) by your bank.

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8. PAYING IN EUROS OR US$

Euros
You can make payment of Euro invoices directly into our Euro bank account by (internet) bank transfer or cheque. There is no charge for this.
We can accept payment by debit or credit card from the Euro zone. The exact amount of Euros debited from your card will depend on your banks Euro/£ rate on the day. Please note a  2.5 % charge applies to credit card payments (1.9% for Amex).

US$
We have prices in US$ and you can make payment of US$ invoices directly into our US$ bank account by bank draft, money order or bank transfer. US$ cheques are accepted subject to a £7 (in 2014) non UK bank charge.
We accept all major credit cards including Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Diners. There is a 2.5% charge for credit card payments (1.9% for Amex).


9. PAYING IN SEK/BETALA FÖR DIN RIDRESA

Anmälningsavgiften anges långt ner till VÄNSTER på fakturan DEPOSIT och angivet betalningsdatum. Där ser du också slutbeloppet och när det ska betalas. När deposit är betald, kommer din slutfaktura skickas till dig med angivet betalningsdatum. Slutfakturan betalas 8 veckor före avresa.

Svenska kronor:
Du kan betala via BANK GIRO från Sverige: 589-2344
Du kan också göra BANKÖVERFÖRING till Unicorns Svenska Swedbank konto:
Från Danmark, Norge & Finland: SWEDBANK
IBAN :SE2080000890119436141007 
SWIFT: SWEDSESS
Från Sverige: 8901-1, 943 614 100-7

Det går också bra att betala med kreditkort:
Endast genom att fylla i ett godkännande av debitering (formulär) som skickas till boka@greenways.se för att Unicorn ska göra debiteringen på ditt kort.

AVBESTÄLLNINGSFÖRSÄKRING
Lättast, billigast & bäst är att använda hemförsäkringens avbeställningsskydd. Numer har nästan alla försäkringsbolag sk Avbeställningsskydd på resor i hemförsäkringen. Kolla upp med din försäkring innan du bokar resan! Vissa bolag har en tilläggskostnad på några hundra kr för att få detta skydd under ett år, då gäller det för alla resor under året. Vår erfarenhet är att det är det billigaste och bästa skyddet då det endast är en liten självrisk på belopp som går förlorat om du måste avboka. Du kan då betala med Bank Giro eller banktransfer avgiftsfritt.

10. INSURANCE

Holiday insurance is mandatory for all clients. You must check that your insurance covers you for the type of riding activity that you are going to participate in. We offer a comprehensive policy designed to cover the holidays we sell fort UK residents. Please ask for a quote or check our horse riding holiday insurance page. Please note this insurance is only for UK residents due to repatriation issues. We will require written details of appropriate insurance cover otherwise we reserve the right to cancel your holiday. We can advise you where to obtain appropriate insurance if you do not have your own.

11. FINANCIAL SECURITY

In compliance with the UK Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tour Regulations 1992 Unicorn Trails is fully ATOL bonded for flight inclusive packages. In addition Unicorn Trails has an insurance policy with Travel and General Insurance Services Ltd to protect the monies paid in respect of the non flight inclusive travel arrangements offered and to cater, where necessary (and subject to the terms of of the insurance policy), for a refund of such monies and/or your repatriation to the UK in the unlikely event of our financial failure. So your money is completely secure.

12. FLIGHTS

International flights from your location to the meeting point are not included in the prices quoted on our website unless otherwise indicated. Internal flights may or may not be included, check the "What is Included" and "What is not Included" section on our website. The flight guide indicates the type of rates that can be found through flight booking websites such as www.skyscanner.net or www.opodo.com from London return. You have the opportunity to arrange your own flights if wanted.

We are fully ATOL bonded and would be delighted to book your flights for you, or assist you in ensuring flights are suitable for the package booked. Many of our clients prefer to book their own flights in Europe with the low cost carriers. A flight guide is included to give you an idea, prices vary depending on the time of year. Wherever possible we offer direct flights with national carriers. These may not be the cheapest fares but give you complete peace of mind in the event of an unexpected problem.

13. WHAT IS INCLUDED

All our prices are per person and based on two people sharing. Except where otherwise indicated, accommodation, meals, a horse and tack, the services of a guide, all camping equipment and transportation of a reasonable amount of luggage from point to point is included. Some holidays include drinks, which means reasonable quantities of local soft drinks, spirits, beers and wines. It does not usually include imported spirits or wines. Each ride has a detailed section with what is and is not included.

14. ACCOMMODATION

The accommodation varies from camping under the stars to luxurious hotels and private mansions. The prices reflect the level of luxury. In Europe, most of the accommodation is in twin rooms which means 2 separate beds. Where a double has been requested we can usually arrange this but it needs to be specifically requested and cannot always be arranged. If it is possible, it will be confirmed in writing to you. Most of our rides do not charge a single supplement if you are prepared to share with a person of the same sex. On some rides it is not possible to arrange single accommodation, so always check your choice of accommodation is available when booking.
Please note that bathroom may mean a shower and toilet and not necessarily a bath unless this has been confirmed to you in writing.

15. PASSPORT/VISA/HEALTH

A full passport valid for at least 6 months beyond the date of your return travel is essential for all the horse riding holidays. It is important that you if you need any visas with the relevant consulate or embassy prior to travel. We will give you general advice and point you in the direction of embassies and their websites but ultimately you are responsible for obtaining the correct visas as these matters can change quickly. For convenience you may choose to use a visa agency.

Health: You should consult your doctor before departure regarding health precautions recommended for travel to your destination. No vaccinations are legally required to any of the destinations we feature but most medical experts will advise precautions against tetanus, hepatitis, typhoid and polio for travel to Africa, Latin America or Asia. Malarial protection is strongly advised at certain times of year when travelling to certain parts of Africa and Asia.
You can also refer to:
National Travel Health Network     www.nathnac.org/travel/index.htm  
NHS Scotland’s Fit for Travel         www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk  
Foreign and Commonwealth Office www.fco.gov.uk  latest updates
WHO disease distribution maps      http://apps.who.int/ithmap 

If you are a UK resident you are entitled to free, or reduced cost, state provided healthcare when visiting a European Union (EU) country, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland.
To access this it is necessary to obtain an EHIC, the replacement for the E111. This covers an individual for basic health care to the level of the relevant national health scheme when travelling within the EEC. This is not a comprehensive travel insurance, the level of care varies from country to country and the EHIC does not cover repatriation, cancellation, theft or damage insurance.

16. GENERAL

We strongly recommend that you wear a hard hat when in the vicinity of horses. A few of the horse riding holidays have a selection, but it is always best to take your own to ensure a good fit. We recommend you purchase a wide brimmed cover for protection from the sun before you leave the UK. Whilst riding or in the vicinity of horses, you must comply with the instructions of your guide. Your guide is entitled to ask you to dismount or refuse to allow you to ride if for any reason they consider that you may endanger the safety or welfare of the horses or any person. There are inherent risks involved in horse riding and you are asked to familiarise yourself with them and take every precaution to ensure your own safety.
Foreign Office Travel Advice The British Foreign Office can be contacted on 020 7238 4503 or visit their web site at www.fco.gov.uk . They occasionally issue travel advisory notes about certain destinations which should be followed. Should you decide to travel against your own country's advice we ask that you check your travel insurance is not invalidated by your choice.

167 ADVERTISING YOUR RIDE WITH US

Unicorn Trails is always looking out for great new rides for our large client database. Unicorn Trails is not an internet listings service rather a travel agency with first hand knowledge of all the rides. We visit all new rides to assess how we can best market them and undertake complete marketing and booking service. If you have a ride that fits in or fills a gap in our line up and interested in a long term partnership please click here.The Riding Holiday Centre Handbook

 

If you'd like to know more about setting up a riding holiday, consider buying the book co-authored by Unicorn Trails' MD


The Riding Holiday Centre Handbook

The comprehensive guide to planning, running and marketing a riding holiday centre by Julian Ross and Wendy Hofstee.

 

 

 

 

 









HOW TO CHOOSE A RIDING HOLIDAY



IS A HORSE RIDING HOLIDAY FOR YOU?

The most important question to ask yourself first. Horseback adventures are for people looking for something different. You need to be adventurous and want to get away from a large tour group. You will be spending a varying part of every day outdoors and with horses, so those with allergies to sunshine and horse hair may have a difficult time. You do not need to be able to ride well, be exceptionally fit or rich to enjoy these great holidays!

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WHO IS COMING WITH YOU?

The next step is to make sure that the horse riding holiday you choose has something to keep everyone in your party happy. Non riders If there are non riders, choose a ride with many other activities. These can range from outdoor activities such as walking, golfing, mountain biking, to beaches or culturally interesting towns to visit within walking distance. A rental car will greatly increase a non rider's range of possibilities. Some rides will arrange for walking, jeep safaris or mountain biking visitors to follow a similar route and meet up with riders each evening. Children For families check from what age children may accompany riders. Some rides have a special children's program. Days with six or seven hours in the saddle are usually too tiring for children under 12. Ranch holidays often make for great family vacations. Children are usually fascinated by nature and wildlife on safaris as well as any farming aspects. For very young children, some places can arrange baby sitting or child minding while you are out riding. Night Life Some rides are near places with a vibrant night life, while others are completely in the wilderness. That is not to say that there is no evening entertainment around the camp fire, but a movie may be hard to organise.

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LEVEL OF RIDING EXPERIENCE AND FITNESS

This is probably the most frequently asked question. There are many horse riding holidays ranging from lessons and gentle walks for complete beginners to fast gallops with game over rough ground for fit and experienced riders. All rides have steady and reliable horses for nervous riders or those returning to riding after a break. Many riders have been converted to a way of life on a horse riding holiday! On some rides the pace may be slow but the terrain extremely rocky or steep calling for balance and confidence, as well as a measure of fitness. If you are not a regular rider and want to go on more than a short break, it is advisable to take some weekend courses to bring your level of fitness and skills up to date. In three weekends it is possible for a complete beginner to learn enough to ride on any continent or for riders to become fit enough to cover 15 - 20 miles daily over most terrain.

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SEASON

Generally speaking Europe is at its best in the summer with a shorter season in the middle of summer for the northern parts. Some parts of the Mediterranean are very hot in July and August. Safaris in southern Africa are at their best in May to September with dry and sunny days and cold nights. Kenya has rains in April but makes a good Christmas break. The migration of the wildebeest may be seen in July or October. For South America (Chile and Argentina) the season is from October to April as it is too cold the rest of the year. Peru has a rainy season from December to April, just the opposite to Mexico which is at its best from October to April. Working cattle ranches in North America see the majority of their cattle work in the spring and autumn, with northern mountain destinations like Canada and Montana being best in the summer and Southern states like Arizona, New Mexico and Texas are at their best in winter. It can be complicated so make sure you get good advice to ensure the experience you want is available at the time you want!

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TIME AVAILABLE

Shorter breaks are best taken closer to home and within a few time zones. However if you can sleep on an aeroplane South Africa is about the most complete break you can take! Leave Heathrow at 8pm and be riding in the middle of a game reserve by 11 am the next morning. You might want to combine a holiday to a further or more exotic destination with some sight seeing while you are there e.g. India or New Zealand.

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BASED OR POINT TO POINT

A based ride means that you return with your horse to the same base each night. It has many advantages, foremost that you can easily take a day off to enjoy other activities or laze around. A point to point ride means you keep going each day, sometimes in a large circle as in Tuscany, sometimes in a straight line as in crossing the Namib Desert. In both cases you cover a lot more ground and can see a larger variation of scenery, but usually the option of a day out is not available. In some of the circular rides, the horses may stay at one point and the riders drive back to a home base, meeting up with their horses again in the morning. This has the advantage of not having to pack your bags daily.

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TYPE OF RIDING HOLIDAY

There are many types of horse riding holidays, from relaxing beach stays with two hours riding in the evenings to ranching holidays, cultural discoveries, gourmet food trails, mountain treks and remote adventures. Think about how much time you would like to spend riding each day, if you want an outdoor camping type adventure, exploring remote destinations, mountains, safari, tuition generally or in a specialist discipline, to visit horse events e.g. the Royal Dublin Horse Show, World Equestrian Games in Spain or even the Olympics.

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BUDGET

Horse riding holidays are usually sold all inclusive of accommodation, meals and activities described. They range from about £75 per day in shared accommodation where you are doing your own saddling and grooming to super luxurious expeditions in exclusive destinations where the accommodation is superb and the support staff out number the guests 2 to 1. The price you pay is usually a direct reflection on the level of service. The quality of the horses and equipment should always be excellent. On many rides you could not spend any more money if you wanted to as the nearest shops are out of range. Travelling to and from your destination can be a significant part of the cost depending on how far and what time of year you are travelling, however low cost airlines and specialist flight agencies can often reduce these costs considerably. Always check your insurance covers you for horse riding.

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ADVICE

The last but probably most important item is to make sure you get good advice before paying up front for a horse riding holiday. Be aware that the internet has made it easy to make claims that are hard to verify. Try to speak to someone who has been to your chosen destination recently or get advice from a travel agency that visits and selects destinations, who can understand your needs, match you to a suitable holiday and guarantee quality.

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WHAT TO TAKE ON A RIDING HOLIDAY


GENERAL ESSENTIALS

There are some things you should bring with you on any horse riding holiday:
Riding helmet
The most important is a properly fitted riding helmet that complies with current EU and British standards. The minimum standard is the EN1384, but other acceptable standards include PAS015, ASTM F1163 and the Snell 2001. It is always best to bring your own for comfort and fit, although some rides may provide a selection for beginner riders who do not wish to purchase one when starting horse riding.
Other
A good pair of boots designed for riding and walking. These are often designed for endurance riders and are now widely available. You may well be walking beside your horse for a bit in rough terrain or generally spend time walking to and from the stables, so full length riding boots are not suitable. These can be combined with a pair of half leg chaps for comfort and protection of your jodhpurs. Two pairs of riding trousers - jodhpurs are best for anything except possibly western saddles. If you do decide to ride in jeans or normal trousers you may find that the seam on the inside of the leg rubs against the stirrup leathers casing painful chafing after a day or so. A change of shirt, underwear and socks for every day is also wise. Long sleeved shirts are best as they protect you from the sun and cold and sleeves can be rolled up in necessary. In case of cold you can layer with a t-shirt under and fleece/warm jumper/waterproof over the top. Chck to see if you can do laundry while away. A water bottle is also a must on most rides, it is easy to get dehydrated without realising when riding for long hours in sunny or windy conditions.

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SPECIFIC CONDITIONS HOT / DRY / SUMMER

Broad rimmed hat for use while off the horse and riding helmet cover with brim which fits over your riding helmet. This should stay on firmly when cantering. Sunglasses with an elasticated string to keep them on. A pair of sandals to wear in the evenings or on rest days. A sarong (doubles up as dust protection while riding and lightweight sleeping sheet at night) and swimming costume/shorts. Sunblock is essential as you will be out in the open for long hours, take a higher factor than you would normally do or, even better, a complete block. Also make sure you have lightweight long sleeved shirts with you: light colours are best for very hot climates. Check if you need an insect repellent. If you do one with as high a percentage of DEET as possible and preferably in a spray or stick application for ease of use. Extra moisturizer and a spare water bottle.

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COLD / WET / WINTER

Layers are usually best to keep out the cold and allow for warmer interludes. Start with a t-shirt, add a long sleeved shirt, then jersey, fleece and windproof/waterproof coat and you should be toasty warm. Your overcoat should be water proof and not just water repellent and should come up to protect your neck. Make sure your riding helmet has a brim wide enough to drip outside the neck opening. Lined waterproof gloves can save the day and lightweight waterproof over trousers are useful. Remember that a seat saver will soak up water in wet weather. A waterproof disposable camera and spare batteries - they lose power a lot faster in cold weather. Make sure you treat your riding boots well with something to waterproof them before leaving and consider taking a spare pair of boots. This applies to beach riding holidays and river crossings too, although you may have the opportunity to remove shoes and socks before fording rivers. The technique of pulling your legs as far up as possible to keep your boots dry can also be tried! In really cold weather consider taking along some trail food (a mix of nuts, raisins and chocolate) for instant energy.

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SAFARI

All clothing should be in muted colours - khaki, green or brown. Avoid white or bright colours as they startle the wildlife and avoid black as it attracts biting insects. Check if you need to take along anti-malarial medications. In malaria areas try to make sure you are bitten as little as possible! Mosquitoes carrying malaria are generally more active at dawn/dusk and night, so cover up with long sleeved shirts, socks and shoes and insect repellent. Lightweight binoculars that strap onto a belt will be handy. Try to avoid carry things that make a noise, e.g plastic packets, while on horseback. Remember to bring a zoom lens for your camera.

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RANCHING

If riding in western saddles, jeans are the best trousers to take. While the locals will be riding with a cowboy hat, we still recommend a properly fitted riding helmet. It is essential to wear a shoe with a heel as trainers can easily slide through the smooth wide stirrups on western saddles even more easily than normal English stirrups and are not recommended. We would again recommend a pair of all terrain riding boots but any shoe with a heel will do for a first holiday.

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CAMPING

Flashlight - lightweight mag lights are ideal and take some spare batteries for it. Consider a mosquito net if there are insects present. Check if you need to bring your own sleeping mat, pillow or sleeping bag. It is always hygienic and easy to bring your own lightweight sleeping sheet along and this can double up as sleeping bag in hot summers. On camping trips you usually need to supply your own towel. If you can bring two half size towels, this way one can dry while you use the other or for really wet days you can use both.

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UNGUIDED

Plastic cover to protect maps en route - not too thick as you will want to fold it to put inside a pocket. A jacket with large inside pockets is useful as is a flashlight and some emergency food. A mobile phone is also essential to call for help or directions if you are lost. Remember to pack a first aid kit to accompany you. Make sure your horse is equipped with a halter and long lead rope and ask what method of restraint/tying they are used to. Practise your quick release knots and map reading before heading off.

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NICE TO HAVE EXTRAS

Cycling shorts or padded underwear can save the day if you are not used to riding for 6 hours in a day. Check what sort of tack you will be riding in - a seat saver is cheaply bought and easily taken with you. While the riding style is usually casual on holidays with long reins and light contact, riding gloves are still useful to protect you from sun, cold and dirt. Safety stirrups that are the right size for your boots - especially for those with large feet or wide boots. A lightweight camera on a shoulder strap with a pouch which can be secured to your belt allows you to take pictures without stopping to access your bag and is not inconvenient for faster riding. A plastic bag to wrap the camera for protection from moisture or dust is very useful. If you do not have saddle bags supplied on your ride (check before leaving), a bum bag is handy to keep items such as sun block, extra film or spare batteries in. Cowboy hat and/or full leg chaps on ranching holidays - there is nothing like blending in with the crowd. Many ranches have basic stores on site which will usually run to a cowboy hat but you may need to buy chaps before you leave. Chaps are useful when riding through rough bush and thorn trees but also come in handy to help you stick to the saddle! Bear in mind full leg chaps can be very hot in Arizona in the summer and very heavy when wet. Riding helmets do come in seasonal varieties, with vented lightweight helmets with brim being ideal for hot sunny weather and full padded skullcaps with rain brim covers ideal for wet weather.

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ADVICE

Make sure you book through a reputable specialist agency who will provide you with complete packing lists as well as further information on the weather. This article is brought to you by Unicorn Trails and BETA, who give impartial advice on a large range of quality riding holidays world wide and quality retail outlets respectively.

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Malaria Advice

Malaria carryign mosquitoIt has gained fame as a kind of Trivial Pursuit question: which is the deadliest wild creature in Africa? Answer: the mosquito that carries the malaria parasite.

With effective control measures and excellent medical care, your chances of avoiding malaria or beating it if you do get it, are excellent, but don't leave it in the hands of the gods: Know enough about malaria to take responsibility for your own health.

Malaria is a preventable disease caused by a parasite which is carried and transmitted by the bite of the female anopheline mosquito. The malaria parasites live out part of their life cycle in the mosquitoes. There are four types of malaria that affect humans: Plasmodium falciparum (which is responsible for the vast majority of malaria deaths), P. vivax, P. ovale and P. malariae.

Malaria distribution Africa 2004It is predominantly a disease affecting Africa, south and Central America, Asia and the Middle East. The heaviest burden is in Africa, where around 90% of the approximately 1 million deaths from malaria worldwide occur each year. Most of these deaths are children under the age of five: malaria is one of the biggest childhood killers on the African continent, causing one in four childhood deaths. And these deaths are entirely avoidable with routine prevention and treatment. Make sure you take these precautions!

Malaria is not endemic in the UK, but approximately 2000 cases occur every year in travellers returning to the UK from malaria-endemic countries. The Advisory Committee on Malaria Prevention in UK Travellers (ACMP) produce annual guidelines, which are included on this site, for health professionals advising travellers from the UK.

Medical doctors in areas where malaria is prevalent are usually very well informed about the disease. Your biggest problem may be coming down with symptoms once you have left a malaria area.

General advice

  1. Avoid being bitten by mosquitoes
    The best prevention is personal protection against the mosquito. Malaria mosquitoes generally bite after dark. Wear long sleeves and trousers in the afternoon and evening; stay indoors if possible. Use insect repellent on exposed skin. Sleep under a bed-net or in a netted tent or hut, or in a house or caravans with screens. Close windows and doors at night. Spray insecticide aerosol and/or burn a mosquito coil at night.

  2. Take prophylaxis in malaria risk areas
    Get good advice before you plan your holiday. The appropriate prophylaxis for a malaria area depends on several factors including:
    - The parasites resistance to drugs in the area you are visiting
    - The safety of the drug
    - The efficacy of the drug
    - The degree of malaria risk in the area
    - The risk of resistance to (or reducing the efficacy of) the drug, in the future, due to inappropriate use.
    - Take the pills on the same day each week when weekly or at the same time of day when daily.
    - Continue taking prophylaxis for 4 weeks after your return and complete the course.

  3. Cancel/postpone a holiday if necessary
    If you are pregnant or have small children avoid a holiday in a high-risk malaria area/season.

Malaria symptoms

If malaria is treated rapidly your chances of avoiding sever illness are much better, so always be on the alert for the onset of malaria symptoms within the first few weeks after your return from a malaria area. The symptoms to look out for are:
- From infection to first symptoms - usually 7-14 days:
- First symptoms in adults:
- Feel weak, lethargic, uncomfortable, dizzy.
- Chills, sweats, fever
- Muscular/abdominal pain
- Vomiting, watery diarrhoea
- First symptoms in children:
- Cough ? Rapid shallow breathing
- Feverish convulsions

Moms and tots

Pregnant women and small children (under 5) should avoid malarial areas if at all possible. Women carrying an unborn child risk many complications, including stillbirths and spontaneous miscarriage. They are also more likely to get malaria and get it badly - they are 4 times more likely to die of it. Babies cannot cope with the prophylactic medication and are more likely to have severe illness. Best to keep children under five away from malarial areas.

A few myths:

Better not to take any prophylaxis as it masks the symptoms and makes the diagnosis difficult.
NO!
You are running the risk of getting a life-threatening disease. Even if you do get malaria despite having taken the medicine, the initial stages will be less severe, and it will take longer to develop complications, so you have a better chance of getting medical treatment. By not taking the drugs you give a free hand to the parasites, leaving you open to the possibility of bad complications or even death. Just do it!

Cerebral Malaria is a new and deadly strain of malaria
False!
Cerebral malaria is simply a complication of untreated Falciparum malaria. If you get treatment early on, you should never develop cerebral malaria.

If you weren't bitten you are not at risk
Well, yes and no, actually!
The femme fatale in question (only the female anopheles mosquitoes bite) is not one of those irritating creatures that announce their presence with a high-pitched buzz. You may not know she's there, or be aware of her calling card as her bites often hardly provoke any itchy swelling at all. So never assume you've not been bitten.

Advisory service

The HPA Malaria Reference Laboratory has a 24 hour premium line telephone number providing malaria prevention advice to the general public. The cost of a call is 100 pence per minute at all times.

Premium line tel: 09065 508908

Medication: which is right for you?
The Malaria Research Program gives the following rundown, but always check with your doctor for the latest advice.

a) Mefloquine
Also known by its registered trademark name of Larium, this has been taken by people up to 12 months without any side effects, is highly effective and has a simple weekly dosage. However it has a number of contra-indications. It has also been known to have very rare but severe neurological side-effects. Start a week or two before, to check for possible side-effects and continue for 4 weeks after leaving the malaria area. Mefloquine should be taken on a full stomach.

b) Doxycycline
This drug is highly effective in South East Asia where there is multi-drug resistance, and resistance is rare. However, it is for short term use only and can cause light sensitivity. Doxycycline should only be taken if other drugs are unsuitable. It has been known to render birth control pills ineffective when taken at the same time.

c) Proguanil/Chloroquine combination
This combination should be used with great caution, as resistance has developed in Mozambique and other regions. Proguanil (Paludrine) every day; Chloroquine (Daramal/Niviquine/Promal) once a week. This combination can be taken safely for up to 3 months, very cautiously for 6. Start a day before entering the malaria area and continue for four weeks after you leave the area. It is generally very well tolerated. Disadvantages are a complicated regime and widespread resistance, particularly in South East Asia.

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