Doing the Camino de Santiago on horseback
Doing the Camino de Santiago on horseback is a traditional way of pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. During the Middle Ages, there were already many pilgrims who reached the heart of Galicia mounted on the backs of their horses, mules or donkeys.
Currently, doing the Camino de Santiago on horseback is not yet one of the most popular ways of pilgrimage. Just over 300 people get the Compostela each year, having completed the last 100 kilometres of the Camino de Santiago riding.
Do you want to do the Camino de Santiago from Sarria? This route will allow you to soak in all the essence of the Camino and enjoy the local gastronomy. Tell us what your dates are and we will help you organize this experience perfectly.
How to do the Camino de Santiago on horseback
To do the Camino de Santiago on horseback, you have two options. One is to complete the trip on your own by taking care of both the planning of the tour and the care of the horse.
The other way is to join one of the organized equestrian trips that take place on the Camino de Santiago. With this option, it is the travel agency that takes care of all the logistics on the route and the care and maintenance of the animals.
Few pilgrims are encouraged to do the Camino de Santiago on horseback without the support of an agency. For this, it is necessary to have a lot of experience as a rider and to know the animal perfectly.
Unlike making the Camino de Santiago on foot or by bike, trying to complete the ride requires much more planning. Here, we’ll talk about it.
Organizing the Camino de Santiago on horseback
If you want to do the Camino de Santiago on horseback on your own, you must spend a lot of time studying the tour and planning it. The biggest drawback at this point is that, just as the information available about the Camino de Santiago on foot or by bike is very abundant, this is not the case with pilgrimage on horseback.
The Camino de Santiago Frances is the easiest one to do on horseback
The best route on the Camino de Santiago to do on horseback is the Camino Frances. This route offers most services and where you will find the best infrastructure for your horse.
With all the above, we do not mean that the other routes of the Camino de Santiago are not suitable for horseback riding. Only that your planning and organization is much more complex.
For example, in this article on charitable actions we told you about a pair of riders who completed the Camino de Santiago from Seville, following La Via de la Plata on horseback to raise money against breast cancer.
What is important is that when choosing the route, you take into account the slopes that it has during the stages if you plan to travel on horseback. If you want, you can consult the article that we dedicate to the profiles of the main sections of the Camino de Santiago.
Don’t do it unless you are experienced
Doing the Camino de Santiago is a demanding experience, whether it’s done on foot, running, by bike or on horseback. If you are not used to horseback riding, we recommend that you do not consider doing the Camino de Santiago, even if you are joining an organized group with an agency.
Long distances on the horse’s back will make you end up suffering chafing from the ride. On the other hand, if you are used to riding but are not an expert rider, we recommend you have the support of an agency to do the Camino de Santiago.
If you don’t have enough experience with the horse, you might have trouble overcoming some sections. Also, if you don’t know enough about horses, you run the risk of making wrong decisions that endanger the animal’s health.
Autumn and spring are the best seasons
Autumn and spring are the best seasons. It isn’t too hot or too cold.
During the winter, frequent rains as well as low temperatures can make the journey more difficult. While in summer, high temperatures can be dangerous for the horse.
Make sure of the horse’s accommodation
When you go on horseback, you can’t risk not making accommodation reservations. Extending stages can mean exhausting the horse, putting its health at risk.
Also, finding accommodation with stables is not so easy. So it is best to have the reservations for all your accommodation organized before starting the adventure.
The horse must also train
Both the rider and the horse must train to do the Camino de Santiago. Both should begin to physically prepare for the adventure, about 3 months before the pilgrimage begins.
In this way, both the horse and the rider will have good muscle preparation. It is important that the horse trains with the weight to be carried during the pilgrimage.
Don’t forget the animal’s documentation
It is necessary that during the pilgrimage you take the animal’s documentation with you. Another fact that you must take into account in this point, is that to enter Santiago you must notify the Civil Protection Authority in Compostela one day in advance to authorize the entry of the animal.
Not just any horse will do
It is essential when doing the Camino de Santiago riding to have a horse that is well trained and that does not panic when seeing cars or dogs. If the horse is yours, it’s important that the horse is well familiar with you.
If you decide to take the tour with an organized group, you don’t have to worry about that fact. Since, generally, agencies that offer this type of travel have horses perfectly domesticated and used to be mounted by different riders.
Advance in single file
As with cyclists, when riding, it is important that riders move in single file, especially on stretches of road. On dirt tracks, it is also advisable to do so, to avoid obstructing the passage of cyclists who usually advance faster.
It’s important to be seen clearly
Both the horse and the rider must be seen clearly, especially if you plan to ride at sunrise or sunset.
Always wear helmets
It is advisable to always wear a helmet while you are on horseback. Riders with little riding experience should wear a rigid helmet.
Programming the return of your horse from the Camino de Santiago
Formerly the Camino de Santiago was a round trip. Even today, many of the people who decide to complete the Camino de Santiago on horseback do so, given the difficulties of moving the animal.
If it is not your case, and you will do the Camino de Santiago only one way, you need to have a logistical support vehicle to transfer the animal home. Some pilgrims also use the train.
Here are some of the things you’ll need if you decide to go on horseback for your pilgrimage. Take note!
Material for the horse on the Camino de Santiago
- Saddle and its blanket
- Waterproof blanket
- Stirrups, bits and reins
- Bandages and protectors
- Accessories for cleaning and brushing the horse
- A bucket to feed the animal
- Tars for helmets and other prevention materials
- Maintenance granules for the horse
- Reflective helmet and vest
- Riding pants
- Clothing based on the time of year
- Rain jacket
We hope that this article has been useful for planning your Camino de Santiago on horseback. We do not organize horseback trips to the Camino de Santiago, but if you decide to do the tour on your own and want us to take care of the accommodation, please contact us.
For this, you only need to call us or write on our Facebook page. Our team will do their best to find the accommodation you and your horse need.