We spent a few wonderful and intense days in May 2018 at the Horseman Ranch. Everyone started with workshops covering the rider's ability to communicate with horses, establishing safe and comfortable relations for both sides (Natural Horsemanship). Then, we could demonstrate in field activities - use practically knowledge and gained riding skills by stepping, trotting and galloping through beautiful, surrounding fields and mountains, often in the area practically in the wild or restored by nature state.
An important element of the experience was a meeting with Bulgarian cuisine, meals prepared on the basis of ingredients produced for the farm's own needs. Fresh milk (for those willing to be milked by hand), and its preparations after an intensive exercises taste unique, especially with red wine.
How important is the ground work with horses, learned at Ranch, I’ve understood in less than two months later. When I was traveling through the foothills of the Caucasus on a beautiful but challenging mount. Then I’ve used in practice what I learned at Ranch during session of ground work with horses in Round Pen.
Rafał with his family
The Horseman Ranch
A place full of love for horses and guests.
A place where your eyes are opening for wise and effective contact with horses.
A place where you can realize your own limitations and fears.
A place where I was shown how to discover that a horse is also a "person". And he will accept and trust you only if you know his language and understand how to communicate with him.
Julia - our muse - and the owners of The Horseman Ranch transferring their knowledge and providing cordial care gave us the opportunity to experience happy and confident animals, and spent few unique days in “horse world”.
Dagmara with the family
“What a wonderful welcome we received from Julia and her team. Great food and accommodation and fantastic hospitality. We enjoyed riding in breathtaking scenery, and were well looked after at all times. Thank you for giving us the holiday of a lifetime!”
Joanna Robins, UK
“I have spoken glowingly to friends and family, since my return from holiday, about the delights of our stay in at Horsemen's Ranch and the warm welcome we received. My photographs of stunning scenery, the wonderful, colorful dancing costume, Thracian treasure and the great horses, capture some of the charm, but it's the tales of homemade ewe's cheese for breakfast, horses chomping grass just outside the door of the farmhouse, dark, night skies with lightning flashes, conversation by candlelight about every subject imaginable, Zarco's cutting our way through fallen trees and that unforgettable ride into Panagyurishte, that really evoke the spirit of the holiday experience.
It was an incredible way to see an enigmatic, but culturally rich and beautiful country. Thank you personally for your care of our group, you marvelous, linguistic skills, which we certainly needed, and for teaching us to eat s l o w l y and enjoy the food and the chance to chat. All that and the chance to learn about, bond with and ride fantastic, foot-sure horses! It was so much more than I expected.
Do hope you and the business continue to thrive, but manage to keep your very personal, hand-crafted approach, which made us feel more like visiting family members rather than tourist trekkers.”
Gretha Dignan, UK
“Bulgaria's Golden Treasure Trail has to be one of the best riding holidays I have been on. The hosts Julia and Zarko could not have made us feel more welcome. The horses were well cared for, kind natured and forward going. We spent a lovely mix of time at the local ranch/farm getting to know our horses through natural horsemanship and hacking in the local countryside and wild flower meadows. During our trail ride we rode through beautiful mountainous, forested country and stayed in local towns and villages in some truly unique and traditional accommodation giving us the opportunity to meet some of the locals. Julia was not only an instructor she also doubled as a fantastic tour guide having great knowledge of Bulgarian traditions and history which came in very handy when visiting both Panagiurishte and Koprivshtica. I came away from the holiday relaxed but energised and feeling privileged to have had a glimpse into what life in Bulgaria is all about”
Jo Williamson, UK
The Horseman Ranch in Makotzevo is truly a once in a lifetime experience.
We arrived at the airport and were welcomed into Bulgaria by Julia who looked after us during our 3 days at the Ranch. Herself and Zarko invite you into their lives as though you are part of the family and I couldn’t have asked for a warmer welcome. The program was great as we were all beginners with no experience of dealing with horses, by the second morning we were riding through nature with the most amazing landscape views. The food provided for breakfast, lunch and dinner was wholesome and tasty and definitely gave you an insight into the Bulgarian culture. Anything we asked for was provided and each night Julia would go out of her way to provide us with local wine and beer. I would fully recommend the Horseman Ranch, it is an experience I will remember for the rest of my life and I look forward to coming back in the future.
Devon Pacey, England
We had a great time, quite enriching every way we look at it! THANK YOU ALL! You were great! Everyone: Zarko and Julie, Krassie, Stephcho and Rali, Brando and the baba that did all the cooking for us - she was simply wonderful! Let's not forget all the horses and Morgan and Lucky! :) We loved each and every moment of our time with you guys, from learning about the horses' world and our interaction with them, through getting more insight into ourselves (!), to the folklore dancing (simply awesome, Krassie!!!) and the walk and a bit of survivor experience :) (thank you, kiddos - all three of you, together with the Indian father's teen :)), the horse carting :), the adorable and quite impressive animals (all four-legged creatures :)), the tasty meals and just the wonderful nature! :) Our feelings are mutual, we would love to see you again and have been spreading the word to our friends and acquaintances! :)
Kristina Anastasova and friends. Bulgaria
I could not have asked for a warmer welcome from Zarko, our host, and his family, or from Julia, who looked after us all week. The accommodation was basic but there was always hot water and the wood-burning stoves provided us with plenty of heat in the house. The food just kept on coming - lots of tasty local dishes and in vast quantities. Mealtimes were enhanced by the arrival of various members of the family who came and ate with us some evenings and entertained us in all kinds of ways. The programme was a lovely mixture of riding and other activities which introduced us to aspects of life in Bulgaria as well as the history and geography. The horses are very capable and are kept in a traditional way in a herd rather than individual stables - I like this. As older riders, we were spoiled by having the horses warmed up for us before we went out, and this ensured that there were no mishaps.
Anything we asked for was provided wherever possible, both in terms of activities and provisions. Julia ensured that we had a plentiful supply of lovely local wines and that our whim to ride bareback was fulfilled. One of my favourite outings was the picnic in the countryside: we went on a cart pulled by two horses and relaxed all the way. I would love to go back again and try more natural horsemanship with Zarko and Julia, and look back with nostalgia at a lovely week. It was a lovely introduction to Bulgaria and I would love to go back to learn lots more as we really only skimmed the surface of this welcoming country.
Liz Coulson, England
Our group was attracted by the idea of Natural Horsemanship and the chance to see a new country. The Ranch horses were nice to work with, relaxed but with enough energy for a good ride. We worked with our horses in the Ranch yard and learnt some of the techniques of Natural Horsemanship, and then we enjoyed the rides out through the beautiful woods and hills. On one day, we had a day ride to another village, lunched in the tavern and visited the local museum. Another highlight was a trip on the horse drawn cart for a barbeque in the woods, including some after lunch bareback riding! Julia arranged guided tours for us to visit Sofia and the beautiful historic town of Koprivshica. Another morning we helped around the Ranch, looking after the horses, cleaning the Western tack, milking a cow and driving the tractor. The Ranch accommodation was basic but clean and warm, some of the beds were not the most comfortable, but it had plenty of hot water for showers, and a large lounge for the evenings. The food was good, local and plentiful, and the Bulgarian wine is recommended. Everyone at the Ranch was very welcoming, helpful, and hospitable and fun, they even arranged for us to try Bulgarian folk dancing! In fact, a very enjoyable holiday and we look forward to coming back next year.
Peter Flew, England
The Ranch Team designed a thoroughly enjoyable program for our group. We rode through the beautiful Bulgarian countryside, went bareback across the river, visited fascinating villages and the magnificent churches and museum in Sophia and lots more. But most memorable was the exceptional customer service. Nothing was too much trouble for Zarko, Krasi and Julia made us feel we were like family. My holiday certainly made me want to return to find out more about beautiful Bulgaria. "
Pamela Faiers, Canada
If you are looking for: brave horses, great people and amazing landscapes... this place is for you!
Elzbieta Chojna, Poland
The hilly terrain with almost untouched shrub and meadows round the ranch in Makotzevo is superbly suited for short or longer horseback rides for both the experienced rider and the beginner - who will be lead on a leash by a friendly instructor. In each case what you'll get is an ideal timeout from the stress of work and city life in Sofia, no matter whether for a few hours or even several days. Fifteen well-kept horses - some with fillies - are waiting for you, ready for informative and enjoyable hours the young and the old won't forget for a long time. It can all be organized by Sarko and Julia, real enthusiasts when it comes to Western riding, horses and hospitality, including homemade Bulgarian food, country dance lessons, or overnight stays on the ranch or hostels on riding trails. Definitely worth a try!
Dr. Alexander Stuetzer, German School Sofia
My experience on the “Horseman” Ranch with Julia
I booked a stay of several days on the “Horseman” Ranch in Makotzevo.
It is a little nice village where I found the ranch at the entrance.
Julia, my future guide and trainer, waited for me and welcome me in a friendly and polite way.
After one hour, making first the connection with my horse, we were on tour in a beautiful nature.
Julia showed me in the following days a lot of trails on the mountains in the surrounding but more important she describes me the thinking of a horse and how to find the connection to these animals.
I spent several stays on ranches but this was my best experience I’ve ever got on this kind of holidays.
I can recommend in all types the stay on this ranch.
Juergen Schindler, Germany
Makocevo !!! :)
Time I spent there was one of the most enjoyable time in my life. If you’d like to feel freedom and rest from full of rules and civilization world, go there! You can go there through the mountains and old villages without any restrictions, spend really beautiful, exciting time. And all those brave horses, there are no limits for them!
I’ll be back in spring!
Joanna Nowakowska from Poland
Makotsevo is a great ranch situated in a beautiful location.
The staff, Zarko, Svilen and Julia are very nice, professional and fun to be with.
As a beginner they took care of me from the beginning. I have been there several times, they are excellent trainers, adapt their teaching to the needs and level of people and always make sure the moment is enjoyable.
Amazing place, amazing managers and excellent trainers, that's THE place to go again and again!
Erwin from France
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