Today, technological and cultural advances mark out human beings as the most advanced species on earth, but this could not have come about without the invaluable help of other living creatures. Throughout history, numerous animals have contributed to this advancement, but without doubt the greatest and most practical of man’s collaborators has been the horse. The bond between the two species has been built since prehistoric times and even today it remains very strong, although our tireless, galloping friends have not been used as work horses, as a means of transport or as deadly weapons of war for many years. By and large, horses now accompany our leisure or sports activities, helping us to relax, and they can sometimes even be beneficial to our health.
Umbria is a region that is deeply connected with the culture of horses and horsemanship due to its emphasis on farming and the close bond it still maintains with the past. The traditional and folk festivals, which take place annually and throughout the territory, are often closely connected with horses. Jousting tournaments such as the Giostra della Quintana in Foligno and the Giostra d’Italia in Valfabbrica, and the Palio dei Colombi horse race in Amelia, are folk re-enactments of a series of events that were held in the past and which involve festivals in public squares involving equestrian competitions. For this reason, in these and in other parts of Umbria, there are numerous horses and riders who, thanks to their passion for horse-riding, offer their services to passing travellers or adventurous tourists.
Riders with varying degrees of experience will be able to visit one of the numerous riding stables in the region and go on adventurous guided rides along the paths and the old mountain mule tracks used in the past as communication routes. Some of these stables are organised as holiday farms and offer refreshments, meals and overnight accommodation, offering an experience of total immersion in nature and in the countryside, with guaranteed peace and tranquillity and locally-sourced foods.
If you are more sporty and you have always wanted to ride and learn all the secrets of a skilled rider, you can opt for one of the many regional horse-riding centres where experienced professionals will guide you through the many techniques and disciplines of various equestrian sports.
Involvement with these beautiful and amiable animals will complement your holiday experience and help you understand why they have been so important for man throughout history and, above all, why this age-old alliance between horse and man will never cease to exist.