Head to the beautiful Istrian Peninsula for three full riding days among verdant pine forests, stunning coastline and quaint villages. You'll discover the lush green landscapes of this special corner of Croatia on forward-going and well-mannered horses. This holiday is a perfect winter break for intermediate riders onwards who are short on time.
Istria is situated in the north-west of Croatia, close to the borders of Italy and Slovenia. The area is renowned for being the largest green oasis in the Northern Adriatic; there are large forests of pine woods along the coasts and surrounding islands, while inland you will find streams flowing through deep valleys, vineyards and olive groves.
This riding holiday is suitable for intermediate to advanced riders who are confident at all paces on horseback. Your guide, Zeljko, and his enthusiastic and skilled team have years of experience in horse riding and trail guiding. While riding in this unspoilt wilderness you will come across Roman ruins and large flat plateaus, as well as quaint little villages where you will meet the friendly locals. Everything is warm-hearted and laid-back here in the land of history, beauty and vitality.
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Arrive at the airport in the afternoon where you will be met and transferred to your accommodation in Hrboki, a small Croatian village. You will have time to settle into your room before enjoying a welcome drink and your first evening meal where you can meet your fellow riders. Meals are freshly made using local ingredients and showcase the best of wholesome Croatian cuisine.
After breakfast you'll head to the ranch to meet the horses. The start of the first day is slow, giving you the chance to get to know your horse. Todays trail leads you through the verdant Istrian landscapes until you arrive to a picturesque spot where you will stop to rest and enjoy a picnic lunch. After lunch, you'll start heading back to the ranch via a different route. Upon arrival at the ranch, untack the horses and head to the accommodation for a little rest and refreshment before dinner.
After breakfast head to the ranch and tack up your horse. Today you'll be riding to Barban, a little town with a rich history and the tradition of the ''Race for the Ring''. The riders that are selected to ride in this tournament have to pass rigorous tests in order to prove they are worthy of being in the game. You will have the chance to see the polygon where the race is held and will also stop and have a short picnic lunch before leaving the horses and walking over to the museum of ‘’Race for the Ring’’ where you can see the history of the game and even try a little virtual race game. Finally you'll head back to the horses, saddle up and return to the ranch for dinner.
Today is the final riding day and it's only fair that one day is used for a ride to the sea. You will ride through more of Istria’s beautiful landscapes and have the chance to witness breathtaking views of Bay Blaz. Arriving at the seashore you can see the ruins of the old mills and an entrance to an old mine. A little further away the horses can have a drink from a natural spring. Nearby there is a pretty meadow where you will enjoy a final picnic lunch and rest before heading back to the ranch.
Departure after breakfast. If riders have a late afternoon or evening flight, they will be transferred midmorning to Pula where they can leave the luggage in secure storage (at a minimal cost) and enjoy the city until their flight time. An airport shuttle bus is available from the main bus station for those taking this option.
We can arrange transfers from/to Trieste for €250 per car round trip (up to 3 pax) or €350 per van round trip (up to 6 pax).
Please note: All itineraries are given for your guidance only and it may be altered on the ground and in accordance with the prevailing conditions by the organising team.
The horses at the farm are especially trained for the trails and are well used to the terrain. There are four generations of horses, 17 in total and all are dependable trail horses. They are kept outdoors for most of the year and are resistant to climatic conditions. They are well fed and in perfect condition.
There are 8-10 horses available. Riding pace is of medium level (there are long periods of walking but also nice opportunities for long canters).
The riding programme offered is suitable for intermediate to advanced riders, comfortable at all paces and with experience of riding in the open. A reasonable level of fitness is required to cope with 4-6 hours in the saddle. Riders should be able to mount/dismount unaided, however help is usually available if required. There is a minimum age of 16 years for this ride. Experience of riding over steep/rough terrain is not essential but would be an advantage. Riders help with grooming and tacking up their horses.
The weight limit for this ride is 198 lb/90 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
Accommodation is based in a way that riders don’t have to travel far from where the horses are staying so they can enjoy and relax in their rooms or explore surroundings after a long day in the saddle. You'll be staying in carefully selected apartments in the small village of Hrboki. The apartments consist of several buildings around a courtyard garden, a traditional style tavern with built-in fireplace and a covered patio dining area with built-in BBQ amenities. There are two fully equipped apartments, one with two bedrooms and one with one bedroom. Rooms have double beds although a single room is available for a supplement (please see prices). The bathrooms are spacious and have showers, towels are provided.
The apartments are situated in the centre of the Hrboki village but are quiet and peaceful. There is a large common living room with built-in fireplace and all rooms have heating for the cooler months.
The food, wine and grappa offered is traditional and locally produced to leave a lasting impression of the local countryside. All food served is freshly made using local ingredients. Many products are grown on your hosts farm, or supplied by their neighbours. Home-reared chickens provide fresh eggs and there is a myriad of Istrian traditional dishes for guests to taste. Although Istrians are known as big meat eaters, vegetarians and vegans are also catered for.
The local food is wholesome and often consists of home-made thick soups (based on a variety of beans, herbs and potatoes), thin soups, meat stews (wild boar, beef, venison, rabbit, chicken) served with local varieties of pasta. Of course, like the rest of Croatian coastline, locally made prsut (prosciutto) and cheese are very common. Istrian prsut has special international recognition and is now a regional trademark. Local drinks include red and white wine, and a variety of strong drinks: grappa, walnut brandy and biska (mistletoe liquor).
Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.
Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip. If Visa’s are required the requirements can change from year to year depending on diplomatic relations. Please request information from the appropriate Consulate in your home country. Unicorn Trails will assist with any questions you have or supply any necessary supporting documents as required by the consulate on request. General information: British citizens and EU passport holders do not need a visa to visit Croatia but British citizens must be in possession of a valid passport. The maximum length of stay is 90 days. The address for the British Embassy in Croatia is: Ivana Lučića 4, 10000 Zagreb, Croatia. The phone number is +385 (1) 6009 100.
The Istrian climate is overall very mild, the peninsula is surrounded by sea to the east, west and south and thus benefits from the warm Adriatic currents. Average daytime temperatures are generally around 19C in October and May and drop to between 6C-12C in the depths of winter. April showers can be common and winters are usually mild and pleasant. The temperature rarely drops below zero throughout the entire year. January is the coldest month, with the average temperature of 6°C and over 260 days a year the air in Istria is warmer than 10°C. The snow is a rare sight, occasionally gracing only the highest peaks of the mountains in the inland areas. The winter is short lasting, rainy and windy. As everywhere along the Croatian coastline, Istria is also refreshed by the characteristic local winds: bura, jugo and maestral.
The power outlets in Croatia are 220V/50Hz. A 2 pronged European plug is required. Mobile phone reception and internet access are available at the farm. Sockets are available for charging phones and cameras.
There will be opportunities to charge camera batteries at your accommodation. There is also WiFi available at the accommodation.
We have put together a suggested packing list for your trip. This should be used as a guideline as requirements may very according to your preferences. Due to the variable nature of the climate it is best to be prepared for all events.
• Riding Helmet - we strongly recommend that you wear a properly fitted riding helmet of the current standard which is PAS015 or BSEN1384. Helmets are available at the stables if you do not have your own
• Jodhpurs - jodhpurs, breeches or other comfortable trousers
• Riding Boots - it is important to have correct shoes or boots for horse riding. Jodhpur or ankle boots with a rubber sole are recommended but sturdy shoes with a definite heel are acceptable (such as walking boots)
• Half Chaps - these are great when worn with ankle boots and help prevent the stirrup leathers rubbing against your legs
• T-shirts and long-sleeved shirts
• Fleece - for cooler weather
• Warm layers
• Casual Clothes - for when out of the saddle
• Water Bottle
• Raincoat - it is always a good idea to pack a waterproof/ windproof jacket!
• Personal Items - toiletries, any medicines you require
• Camera and Spare Batteries/Charger - an absolute must! It is also a good idea to take a camera case you can strap around your waist or onto a belt for whilst you are riding.
This is an 5 day / 4 night programme with 3 days riding available with anyday departures between October and May.
2020: Dates available on request between 1 Jan - 3 May
Confirmed departures: March 29; April 14
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Istria has fascinating geology, flora and fauna. In a relatively small area (about 4000 km2) you pass from a rocky coastline through a strip of Mediterranean scrub and woodland and onwards to areas of low-intensity agriculture rich in wild flowers and farmland birds. One of the areas you ride through has rich moist soil which is perfect for truffles to grow in.
Croatia, officially the Republic of Croatia, is located at the crossroads of Central Europe, Southern Europe, and the Mediterranean. The capital is Zagreb, and perhaps unsurprisingly this is also Croatia's largest city. The country is divided into 20 counties, plus the city of Zagreb. Croatia has an area of 56,594 square kilometres and its climate is a combination of continental and Mediterranean weather systems. Croatia's Adriatic Sea coast contains more than a thousand islands. It has a population 4.28 million, most of whom are Croats, with the most common religious denomination being Roman Catholicism. Croatia became the 28th member state of the European Union 1 July 2013.