Top 10 Equestrian Vacation Destinations

From forested trails around Ireland’s Ashford Castle to state-of-the-art indoor facilities at Gleneagles, the top 10 horseback riding holidays in England, Ireland and Scotland for riders of every level and technique.

© Castle Leslie
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Castle Leslie, Monaghan, Ireland

Wrapped in 1,000 acres of Irish countryside, this estate is one of the top equestrian destinations in the country, if not all of Europe. Guests can sharpen their skills with over 300 cross-country jumps (obstacles such as logs and hedges purposely built into the natural surrounds) designed by the Willis Brothers—the same team behind the course at Badminton, one of the UK’s most famous equestrian events. The indoor arena, which, with its 200-seat viewing room, is ideal for training shows, instructor seminars and equine lectures (such as a recent talk on equine nutrition) which are consistently held at the property. Guests can also plan their trip around one of the many special clinics offered by visiting coaches, such as the high-ranking British Horse Society Level II coach Mandi King. Serious riders won’t be disappointed by the three-day Horse Sport package (from $920), offering three hours of riding per day and the perfect balance of dressage, show jumping, cross country and trail work. The traditional afternoon tea service offered in the castle’s light-filled drawing room makes for a welcome way to unwind after a day in the saddle before retiring to the cozy accommodations—some rooms are named after the estate’s horses (Frosty, Sweeney, Pluto)—styled with broad wooden desks, velvet throws and tasseled fabrics. (Tip: Request a room with a terrace overlooking the courtyard and weather vane, which used to be stationed at the Ascot racecourse.)

Riding lessons from $45 per hour; Rooms from $210 for bed and breakfast; Glaslough Co. Monaghan; 353-47/88100; castleleslie.com.