Horse riding in MenorcaWith its unspoiled countryside, pristine coastline and innumerable trails, some of which are as old as human settlement, Menorca horse riding has a wide variety of terrain to suit all levels of ability.
Many of the smaller country lanes are virtually traffic free and there is plenty of opportunity for riders to explore some of the most beautiful landscapes of the Mediterranean. With small coves, wide beaches, and shaded woodland even on the hottest summer day there will always be somewhere for both rider and steed to keep cool.
There is a long standing equestrian tradition on the island which dates back to the days when landowners had to maintain horses which could be ready to defend the island from invaders. The Menorcan breed, a spirited powerful glossy black horse, has a strong Moorish influence, but its introduction to the island cannot be dated with exactitude.
Famed for its beauty, spirit and speed, the Menorcan horses have their own particular form of dressage – in which the animals are trained to rear up on their hind legs in a manoeuvre called the ‘bot’. This can best be seen when the horses are put through their paces at the horse fairs and shows held throughout the summer months, and at the fiestas in all the towns of the island. The annual festivals always feature dressage competitions, with riders often dressed in black frock coats and the tricorn hats of the 18th century gentry on the island. Trotting races too are a popular pastime, with weekly race events happening in Ciutadella and Maó.
Today, riding for visitors is a well organized activity, ranging from morning rides with small groups to longer treks of up to a week. Whilst it is considered to have already been in use back to the 13 C., the newly opened Camí de Cavalls which has been created on the old bridleway which runs around the island and which used to be a vital part of Menorca's coastal defence patrolled by customs guards on horseback in the 18th century, means that riders now have access to all parts of the coast. The trail is almost 200 kilometres long, and enables groups to visit some of the most pristine and hidden parts of the island, riding through thick woodlands to deserted beaches of white sand in tiny and beautiful coves.
In the interior, there are many trails and small green lanes between the dry stone walls which are a distinctive part of the Menorcan landscape.
There are 6 recently established routes for Menorca horse riding published on a map by the Consell Insular de Menorca which cover the north coast, the central areas and the south near Es Castell. The rides include elements of the best that Menorca horse riding has to offer – from the stark landscape of the rugged northern cliffs to the rolling gentle hills of the centre, and the soft white beaches of the south.
There are now stables offering riding tuition, lessons in dressage, and trekking throughout the island which can take both adults and children on treks which can last from a morning to several days. In future, it is hoped that stables and overnight hostels will be provided along on the Camí de Cavalls so that riders will be able to follow the trail around the island without having to return to their accommodation each night.
Read our top 10 tips for things to see and do in Menorca