Learning to Ride a Horse and Tobogganing – Visit Wales!

Last weekend saw me, Mr TS and our two youngest children abandon our two older boys to their revision and nip off to visit Wales! I left the guilt at home, packed our practical outdoor gear and jumped into the car with unseemly haste – it was time for some adventures! As we crossed the Severn Bridge the clouds parted and a dragon glared down at us, full of fire and promise.

dragon in the sky, visit Wales

We were on a mission to pack as much into two days as we possibly could and to try some things we hadn’t had a go at before at the behest of Visit Wales. As I plotted and planned it dawned on me that some of the things I assume BB has done were, in fact, done by his brothers and he hasn’t had a go at all! It was time to indulge him and her and immerse ourselves in glorious South West Wales!

Our first day was spent on beaches, on horseback and tobogganing down a hill, we explored castles and seaside towns, ate chips, laughed and throughly blew all our cobwebs away. There seemed to be a beach or a castle around every corner and the landscape was HUGE!

First on my list was Pembrey Country Park in Carmarthenshire – mixing coast and countryside and offering a wealth of family activities it was a Must Do. We started the day on Cefn Sidan Beach, miles and miles of golden sand, sand dunes and sky. The children ran and ran and it was wonderful to see her shaking off all her teenage cares and breathing deep – she had the beach to herself!

Cefn Sidan Beach, Pembrey Country Park, Visit Wales, Pembrokeshire

They explored sand dunes and combed the beach for finds washed up by the energetic waves while I felt my lungs fill with clean air and the worries of the week washing away. But we were here to do new things too so we said goodbye to the beach and prepared to saddle up!

I haven’t been on a horse since I was about 18 and that was a total disaster so I was a little bit nervous but neither of the children had ever ridden and their eyes were gleaming with excitement. I had signed up for half an hour’s training in the school and then half an hour trekking with Pembrey Park Riding Centre and was delighted to find we were to be taught as a group of four by the lovely Midge.

Hatted and booted and ready to go!

Visit Wales, Horseriding, Pembrey

Our horses were led to the mounting block and Mr TS leapt into Ed’s saddle as if he’d been doing it all his life, I swung a not very swingy leg over Sweetie’s back and managed to clamber aboard, Bonus Boy and Our Girl popped up onto Star and Ruby respectively and we were led into the training square.

Pembrey Country Park, Visit Wales, Horseriding in Wales

All in all we did pretty well, we all managed to walk, stop and turn a gentle corner and then she moved onto trotting. Trotting is the bouncy bit where bum meets horse back at speed and requires synchronised standing and sitting – this would be my undoing, I was sure of it. The children were still grinning, Mr TS was all calm and relaxed, I paled a little and braced myself.

“Hold onto the saddle and the reins, stand up, keep your heels down and look between Sweetie’s ears. Imagine there’s a pin on her saddle Chris, you don’t want to sit on that as it comes up!” shouted Midge with a hearty laugh – What? Five things at the same time, are you mad? I squeezed Sweetie with my legs and hoped for the best, thankful that I had someone holding a rope at her front end to keep things in order. Sure enough bum met saddle with a slap which was enough to get me standing up, sitting down and trying to do it with the same rhythm as Sweetie. I did it! Midge told me I was brilliant – I felt like a child and puffed out my chest. Bonus Boy and Our Girl both followed me and both did REALLY well; their grins were broadening by the second!

A little more practice and a few more pointers and we all set off with our leaders for a hack through Pembrey Park, practising the things we had learned as we went. I approached a bit of trotting with a smile rather than fear and it felt much more natural and far less painful!

I loved that it was just the four of us learning together, that we had the security of lead reins, that we were riding through beautiful woodland (I wasn’t allowed to take pictures as I rode in case I spooked the horses) and that all the girls who led us were kind, chatty and helpful – Bonus Boy was having a lovely natter about The Legend of Zelda as he rode along!

Horse riding in Pembrey Country Park, visit Wales

I love my daughter’s face in this picture, look at her trying to hold in her happiness! She was finally doing something she has always wanted a go at and we had never found time for and it was bursting out of her.

learning to ride in Wales, horseriding in Wales, Visit Wales

Back at the stables we all reluctantly said goodbye to our lovely horses and their leaders (my dismount was even more ungainly than my earlier mounting – I slithered to the ground rather than springing off, I clearly need swingy leg practice, Sweetie’s rump was very broad!). Bonus Boy was totally in love with Star by now and Ruby and Our Girl had become firm friends, their first go at horse riding was definitely a big hit!

But our day was only just starting, Pembrey Country Park has so much to offer! We passed on the 130m long dry ski slope (I didn’t think my legs would cope with horses and skiing in one day) but couldn’t resist a go at the longest toboggan run in Wales, The Cobra!

This was another new thing for Bonus Boy who was too little last time we had a go at one – he was chuffed to bits when he was told he was old enough to ride it himself! He decided to take Dad along for the ride for his first go – I think you can tell by the look on Mr TS’s face and his unseemly haste to get himself out of the toboggan that Bonus Boy had discovered his inner speed demon! His next few runs saw him whizzing off on his own and arriving back at the bottom VERY swiftly!

toboganning at Pembrey Country Park

Several rides later, after much laughter and with totally insane hair dos we went to dry off and warm up.

Ski Pembrey is open all year round and there is an Alpine Ski Lodge and Cafe at the bottom to warm your cockles after a day on the slopes. You can turn up without booking to snowboard or ski and all equipment is providedĀ  with a reduction in price if you have your own. Qualified instructors offer coaching and instruction whether you are a complete novice or a budding racer and it is definitely something on our list for next time!

Right – that’s enough for today, I’ll let you catch your breath and have a cup of tea! Come back on Friday for our Adventures in Wales Part 2 where we will be exploring castles, following in the footsteps of a particular poet and pond dipping, den building, duck racing and more at Colby Woodland Gardens!

More About Pembrey Park Riding Centre More About Pembrey Park

Our activities were provided by Visit Wales for the purposes of this article, all opinions are our own and a jolly good time we had too!






  1. Oh it all looks lovely outdoorsy family fun!

    • It was Becky! I’ve had to chop it up into bite sized blog pieces rather than overloading my lovely readers with wonderful Wales all at once! I could write for weeks about this one!

  2. Wow! It looks like you had an amazing time. Wales is so close to us but I never think to visit, you may just have changed my mind.
    I can’t wait for the next installment …. especially with my love of a good castle!

    • Thanks Donna! We visit often but always to the same place as my inlaws live in mid Wales just over the border, Mr TS and I were at college in South Wales but we haven’t been back since and it was such a treat, I’d forgotten how lovely it is!

  3. This looks like so much fun. I’d love to go horse riding again (it’s been years), but at the moment I really don’t want to expose a horse to my weight. That would be borderline animal cruelty…

    • I’m sure that wouldn’t be the case Carolin!

  4. Wow, the sky in your opening shot is practically biblical- awesome! Looks like you all had such a lovely time, I haven’t been on a horse since childhood- am thinking I might well be scared of it these days! My ten year old would love those toboggans!

    • That sky was stunning Sonya, I keep looking at the photo! Toboganning was brilliant, we all enjoyed it – I didn’t really expect to but his enthusiasm rubbed off!

  5. I absolutely love the group picture! Such a nice family day! Could never ever go on a horse myself though!

    • I was really nervous Otilia but doing it this way was easy, reassuring and wonderful. I’m a total convert!

  6. What a lovely way to spend time together. There were clearly some very magical moments and the scenery looks stunning. There are so many wonderful gems in the UK, you just need to know where to find them. I would love to do this with my lot x

    • I think packing it all in to a weekend was a really good thing to do, it made us get out and look and do and adventure and it was SUCH FUN!

  7. Obviously I’m in love with the horse called Ruby!

    Your words and pictures make my heart ache for Wales.

    • I did think of you when they led her out! I want to go back there as soon as possible, there are so many things I’d like to do and so many places I want to see, it was fab.

  8. I was watching your photos at the weekend and you looked like you had a marvellous time and I have to say I am mesmerised by your daughters beauty. I keep seeing pictures of her and she has grown into a really gorgeous young lady, I can just imagine that she is as beautiful in her personality too. (I hope you don’t mind me saying) Mich x

    • What a lovely comment Mich, thank you! She’s not bad, I think I’ll keep her šŸ˜‰

  9. It all looks such fun Chris – and that beach is wonderful! I’ve many happy memories form childhood holidays in Wales and in particular their great beaches.
    Look forward to reading part 2!

    • Thanks for popping by Annie! I holidayed in North Wales as a child so South West Wales was new to me and I’ve fallen in love with it :-)

  10. What a fun day out, and you’re right about the photo of your daughter – she really does look like she’s trying to hold it all in.

    Also the skies! Wow!

    • The skies were amazing and the beaches went on forever!

  11. FAB post! What a perfect trip! SO jealous of your family horse riding trip. That looks AMAZING! xx

    • It was Katy! They’re still talking about it!

  12. South west wales looks really beautiful and the horse riding and the beaches and country side. I think me and my family will have to pay south west wales a visit stunning.

  13. So pleased you had a lovely time. I live about an hour from Pembrey so we love to visit too.

    I often feel that all my kids have done lots of things and then remember that one or two of the youngest haven’t had a experience yet.

    We’re doing the ski and toboggan first on our next visit as we ran out of time…and steam last time! :-) x

  14. It looks like a marvelous time. The thing that struck me about Wales is how many great outdoorsy pursuits there are. You’ve got me itching to get back on a horse.

  15. ooooh, I know a little boy who would LOVE the toboggan. Pembray Country Park looks fantastic!



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