This blog looks back at how I chose my first two horse riding holidays. In fact, these horse riding holidays were so exceptional, I was inspired to share my equestrian journey in my non-fiction horse book: The Horse Riding Tourist – Near and Far. The travel writing in *The Horse Riding Tourist – Near and Far purposefully focuses on my time away and for that reason, I thought it would be helpful to share how these wonderful mini-adventures came about. Ultimately, through my horse travel writing, I hope to give you enough information to inspire you to get out there and explore yourself.
My epiphany moment came about on a late Tuesday afternoon sometime in autumn 2011. I was stood in the waiting room at my riding stables filling in time before my lesson. At the top of the usual pile of horsy magazines was a compact Unicorn Trails brochure that when picked up and flicked through, instantly made my heart beat faster with excitement. The brochure was packed full of vivid photographs and riding holiday information on vacations available around the globe. What was in my hand was the perfect combination to feed two of my great passions: travel and horses. Short of time and with no pen and paper to hand, I memorised the website address listed on the back cover and merrily went on my way to enjoy my lesson. A few days later at home, I ordered my own brochure via the remembered website. I spent hours studying the pages with my head full of dreams and possibilities. At this stage, the only thing I knew for sure was I was going on a horse riding holiday. The big question was, where?
For most of us, the biggest influences on where to go for a holiday or break is time and money. So, we already start off with a few criterions which narrow our choices: How long can I go away for? When can I get away? What is my budget? However, to start none of these questions came into my head. My mind was focused on the where and I would worry about the when and cost later. A long list of enticing places was formed but the decision wasn’t made until a dark and cold December afternoon when I was manning the office between Christmas and New Year. My daydreaming had transformed into reality, I was going to Iceland and Egypt.
I’d never thought about travelling to Iceland before. Yet influenced by the abundance of appealing riding trips the brochure offered in Iceland, I had moved on to the Unicorn Trails website to look up more details. I had become seduced by the thoughts of northern lights, geysers and the experience of the tolt (a special gait of the Icelandic horse). The more I read the more I dreamt. As the wind and rain lashed the window panes outside the office windows, my wise head took over and proposed a short break. A sensible choice as I have no previous knowledge or experience of what to expect on a horseback riding vacation. If I arrive and found out this type of holiday wasn’t for me, I would only have a few days to ride it out so to speak. My final selection was influenced by the optimistic package title: ‘Northern Lights Short Break’. The northern lights had always been on my bucket list and if I was extremely lucky this wonder might get ticked off. The mouse clicked and the riding tour in was booked. I was going to Iceland at the beginning of October 2012 for four days, which included two days of horseback riding.
In 2012 I turned 40. To celebrate this milestone, I wanted to treat myself to plenty of quality time overseas. I had already booked a four-week trip to Australia in February to stay with family in Sydney and Perth. Perhaps after I’d booked Iceland, I should have been satisfied. The problem was I had the money and time later on in the year to fulfil another dream. This time it was a location that I had always planned to visit and I couldn’t believe my luck to find a horse riding vacation in Cairo, Egypt that offered this experience. The seduction was not only trail riding out into the Sahara Desert but the ancient structures I had always wanted to see, the Egyptian pyramids. Everything ticketed the boxes even down to the host, who is an ex-pat American. Thankfully, my bank account had the funds to cover this horse riding holiday. The mouse clicked again and my exceptional trail riding holiday in Egypt was scheduled. I would return from Iceland for a few weeks before I headed off to on the ‘Palms and Pyramids’ vacation at the beginning of November. An eight-day horseback riding holiday that would feature horse trekking and visits to infamous tourist sights.
Back to the question of how do you choose a horse riding holiday? For me, my heart and aspirations ruled my head. What about you? Where have you always wanted to go? Which holiday makes your heart beat faster with excitement when you read about it? When you’ve answered these questions, you then have to be practical: How much time do you have? What is your budget? You may have to compromise or plan for some time in the future when you do have the money and time. I was lucky with Iceland and Egypt, I had money in the bank and the time to visit. However, this wasn’t the case for my next two horse riding holidays, which I will talk about in my next blog. To be continued…