So, I must confess that although I know that Idaho is one of the USAâ€™s 50 states, thatâ€™s pretty much as far as my knowledge of it goes. So when Visit Idaho offered me the chance to experience a day of ranching, riding and eating, Idaho style, I was keen to find out more.
Idaho ranch riding…in London!
Although the event wasnâ€™t actually on an Idaho ranch, the venue was definitely the next best thing. Thereâ€™s very few places in London where itâ€™s easy to forget that youâ€™re in one of the world’s busiest cities, but Trent Park Equestrian Centre is one of them. Hidden away at the end of the Piccadilly line, the sprawling complex can house over 100 horses and, as well as multiple arenas, you can ride along 12 miles of perfectly gorgeous outdoor hacking in the adjacent Tent Country Park.
The first order of business on our ranch experience was a mini riding lesson in the schoolâ€™s outdoor arena.Â When I was young, I loved riding. Really loved it. IÂ went to the local riding school onceÂ aÂ week for a lesson and would hang around for as long as possible afterwards to help with the grooming and mucking out. I had a subscription to Horse & Pony magazine and my wardrobe was stuffed full of jodhpurs and Thelwell jumpers.
Butâ€¦that was all a very long time ago so I was glad to find that I would be led around on the lovely Mac, rather than being entirely let loose! It was great fun, the sun was shining and by the end of the session, all of us managed to perform a decent rising trot without ending up on the floor.
We were also able to give some of the horses a good groom (they stood very patiently while we brushed them down) and were treated to a drill ride by some of the schoolâ€™s expert riders, the horses showing us their stuff to the strains of David Bowie and Fleetwood Mac.
Finally, over a lunch of delicious Idahoan delights, we were given the lowdown on the 13th largest state in the USA. Potatoes are probably the stateâ€™s most famous export and the Idaho spud even has its own museum!
We also learnt that the stateâ€™s nickname of â€˜The Gem Stateâ€™ is due to Idaho producing 72 types of precious and semi-precious stone, some of which are found nowhere else in the world.
So, should you visit Idaho?
Potatoes and gem stones are all very interesting, but is Idaho worth a visit? Well, actually, yes it is. It seems that whether youâ€™re into nature, adventure, touring or gastronomy, Idaho has it covered.
For outdoors lovers, thereâ€™s not only ranching and riding â€“ Idaho is also famous for white water rafting with 3100 miles of rivers (more that any other state, Iâ€™ll have you know!)
For tourers, the vast network of scenic drives through the stunning countryside look absolutely beautiful and would definitely be on the top of my Idaho to-do list! Also on that list would be a trip to Hellâ€™s Canyon. Straddling the Snake River, this river gorge is the deepest in America â€“deeper than the Grand Canyon, in fact.
And for foodies, thereâ€™s not only potatoes to enjoy. The climate in southern Idaho is perfect for vineyards and the wine industry is thriving. Thereâ€™s more than 50 wineries in the state, many of them in the Snake River Valley and this number is growing quickly.
If that’s all made you wonder whether Idaho should be on your travel list,Â check out the Visit Idaho website for loads more details on what the state has to offer.
Have you been to Idaho? If you have, we’d love to know what you thought of it!