Fields, forests and wildlife sanctuaries are often included in the routes and being on horseback allows you to explore the ‘back country’ providing a marvellously intimate view of the old, colourful unchanging India that refuses to succumb to the anonymity of 21st century ‘globalisation’.
Every day you will see something that will lodge forever in your memory – a camel train cresting a sand dune at sunset; a line of brightly clad women swinging by with gleaming brass pots on their heads; a herd of blackbuck antelope grazing in a field while the farmer looks on indulgently; a hawk-faced shepherd in bright red turban watching his flock; The safaris are conducted with immense style and your riding guides and staff are knowledgeable and proud of their history and culture and often passionate about the wildlife which – for religious reasons – lives alongside the humans. The accommodation is often a mix of stylish full service ‘shikar’ (hunting) camps and heritage hotels.
The locations are always interesting and often quite dramatic. The Rajputs – the warrior clans of the north – are a horse people and here at the edge of the desert they have bred a horse renowned for its stamina and intelligence – the Marwari. They take immense pride in this horse that served their ancestors in countless campaigns through the centuries. You do need to be a reasonably experienced rider. The riding tack is predominantly English and the horses are Marwari. In Assam, you ride along the Bhramaputra River on thoroughbred horses.
Alternately, if you don’t want a dedicated riding holiday then you can spend simply a few nights again either in Rajasthan at a luxurious tented camp in the desert or an historic fort in a village whose walls are decorated with miniature art, where a friend of ours has some truly well schooled Marwari horses, riding amongst black buck, or you can ride from a basic tented camp where there is the chance to see leopard.