Luxury Equestrian Vacations

Forget simple trail rides. Horse lovers now have more options than ever for equestrian holidays, including herding cattle, learning polo or show jumping. British ex-lawyer Ruth Taggart and her husband spent a decade scouring the globe for the best horseback-riding spots before founding Ride World Wide, which offers custom riding tours of three, 10 or 18 nights in more than 25 countries. Recent destinations have included sand dunes in Uruguay, cattle ranches in South Africa and tented camps along the Silk Road in Kyrgyzstan (from $800;

Dingle Horse Riding, located on the southern coast of Ireland, offers six-day tours and allows customers to pick their horses. Blasket, for instance, is "high-spirited and forward-going," says co-owner Katy Scott (read: hold on tight). Riders visit Muireach, stopping at the oldest church in Europe, as well as traverse beaches and mountains on horseback (from $2,000;

Sports lovers may prefer signing up for polo school. Argentina's La Mariposa guarantees that after four lessons, players will become addicted. From October to April, training caters to beginners, with players choosing among 140 polo ponies. During Argentina's winter, weekly unisex tournaments take place on 240 hectares of farmland outside London (from $450 a day;

At the Marbella Club Hotel in Málaga, Spain, guests can choose between a trek through the Andalucian hills or show jumping at the Equestrian Center. The world-class complex features annual horse shows, boarding stalls and trainers. And after a couple of hours, guests can gallop off to the award-winning spa ($35 per hour;