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Summer Equestrian Road Trips In Europe – Forbes

Horse show travelAriana Rockefeller

Horse trailers parked in Opglabeek, Belgium

Exploring the world through the lens of an equestrian athlete is a unique and rewarding experience. Whether driving ten minutes down a country road to a local horse show, or loading horses onto a cargo plane from New York to Amsterdam, travel is an inextricable part of the showjumping sport. Especially during the summer circuit in Europe, the schedule is nonstop and horses and riders will likely be in a different country every other week. Discovering the cultures, cafes and hotels of Europe are a built in bonus to being on the road with horses. 

Some shows will be in big cities like Paris or Brussels, others in smaller towns such as Bonheiden, Belgium or Deauville, France. In the United Kingdom or continental Europe, shows are in relative proximity and are accessible by a quick flight or a days drive. The latter method of travel has the convenience of being able to fit life into the car for two weeks or more on the road, and being able to make stops at interesting places along the way.

The Eurotunnel provides service between the continent of Europe and the United Kingdom. Trains run regularly between the ports of Folkestone, England and Calais, France. After a passport check, passenger cars can drive straight onto the train for the quick, half hour, journey underneath the English channel. Horse trailers either go on the Eurotunnel cargo trains, or the ferry boats running between nearby points of Dover, UK to Dunkirk, France. Upon arrival, its about a 40 minute drive to cross the border into Belgium and then another hour to The Netherlands.

NamurAriana Rockefeller

The Royal Hotel in Namur, Belgium

There are countless possibilities to discover when driving through Europe. The cosmopolitan cities are spectacular of course, but often the smaller towns, off the American tourist path, bring unexpected delight. In Namur, Belgium the Royal Snail Hotel is situated on the banks of the Meuse river and beneath its hanging garden façade, the modern interior is chic yet understated. After a morning breakfast of espresso and pastry by the elevated pool, a hike to the century old Citadelle de Namur offers breathtaking views of the quaint yet sophisticated city.

Another town on the horse show route is historic, Mechelen. The Flemish town is 25 kilometers from Brussels, and holds its own in culture. The Roman influenced is evident in the architecture and sun drenched cobblestone squares, and St Rumbold’s cathedral looms over the main marketplace where folding cafés tables are laden with cappuccinos. Whatever the town, the Europeans understand the importance of excellent culture and coffee.

Traveling with horses is indeed a particular kind of adventure, and being able to see Europe along the way is an added luxury. Touring different cities and appreciating new languages is always an enlightening and humbling experience, and certainly living out of suitcases, cars and horse trailers is the best training for packing efficiently.

Summer Equestrian Road Trips In Europe – Forbes

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