Monthly Archives: November 2015

“Meet the Guides” at The Riding Holiday Show – Rodrigo Ferreira from the Azores

We would like to introduce another popular guide, Rodrigo Ferreira from Quinta da Terca in the Azores. You can meet Rodrigo and Christina (owner of Quinta da Terca) at the Riding Holiday Show on 12 December 2015.

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1.    How long have you been guiding at Quinta da Terca?

4 years.

2.    Where did you guide before this?

I was a guide at a Quinta Turistica called Brancelhe in Vigira do Minao, Portugal.

3.    How did you get into guiding? Was there someone who inspired you?

When I did my studies at Escola National de Equitacao in Golega, my biggest interest already was trekking and I wrote my final project about Turismo Equestre. My passion has always been and is horses and nature, therefore being a guide suits me perfectly.

4.    If you hadn’t become a riding guide, what was your Plan B?

To become a competition rider.

5.    People coming on a riding holiday often think you have the ideal job – what do you love about it? And what are the downsides?

I really enjoy showing guests the beautiful and fascinating Azorean nature from horseback. I love to meet people from all corners of the world and learn and talk about other cultures. I try to be a riding “ambassador” for the Azores. For the downsides, to get caught in extremely heavy rainfall or a storm when you are far away from home is not the best!

6.    If your favourite horse was a human, who would he/she be and why?

Olé. Olé is brave, curious, alert, smart and gentle – he would be a true gentlemen if he was a human.

7.    What can you not live without (when guiding or just generally)?

When guiding I always want to have a mobile phone and my saddlebag.

8.    What has been your most memorable riding holiday week?

I can not name any specific ride but what I can say is my absolute favorite ride is the full day route to Sete Cidades (the twin lakes) this area for me is the most perfect place in the world, it is like riding in the book “Lord of the Rings” and all my rides here have given me good memories.

9.    How do you relax after a day in the saddle?

Quality time with my family and a nice dinner.

10.    What advice would you give a 21-year-old who wants to train for your job?

You need to be very responsible, a leader, a problem solver, and a very good rider! I would recommend getting a trekking/trail guide education before applying for a job.

11.    Where do you go on holiday?

Mainland Portugal to meet relatives and friends.

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Thank you Rodrigo for some fantastic images and another interesting article. Olwen and the team look forward to seeing you in a few weeks’ time.

You can meet Rodrigo and Christina from the Azores at the Riding Holiday Show in London on 12 December 2015. Space at the venue is limited so you must obtain a ticket in advance. The event takes place at the Royal Overseas League in SW1 just off Piccadilly from 10 am to 6 pm.

38 different riding destinations will be represented at the Riding Holiday Show. All part of the In The Saddle portfolio of worldwide riding holidays.

Categories: Equestrian Travel, horse riding, Horses & riding, in the saddle, Lusitanos, Ride reviews, Riding Holidays, Riding Holidays Portugal, The Riding Holiday Show, Travel advice, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Meet the Guides” at The Riding Holiday Show – Ingeborg from Namibia

The Riding Holiday Show on 12 December will be full to the brim with talented and experienced riding guides from around the world. Here, we have an article by a talented and popular guide who is well know for her love of Arabian horses – Ingeborg from Okapuka in Namibia.

0821.How long have you been guiding at Okapuka?

I’ve been guiding since 2000 when my ex-partner and I set up the riding safari operation at Okapuka.

2.    Where did you guide before this?

I used to be an HR manager before I decided that Namibia would be my home. I started riding when I was a youngster. My first pony was a white Shetland mare, called Walda who was most probably not bigger 11hh; later I had a chestnut gelding, a New Forest pony called (believe it or not), Quicky! During my riding years in the Netherlands I saw one of my competitors in the dressage ring riding a white purebred Arabian and I was completely in awe. That’s how my fascination and love for the breed started and I promised myself one day that one day, one day I would be the owner of such a magnificent creature. I stopped riding when I turned 18 and only started again just before coming to Namibia on a holiday (not a riding holiday), not knowing riding would become my profession. When we started the horse safaris there was doubt that the Arabian horse would become our partner. In a way I’m still an HR manager, but now it’s Horse Resource Manager.

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3.    How did you get into guiding? Was there someone who inspired you?

When my ex-partner and I set up the company there was no question in my mind that I would do the guiding as well. It wasn’t a person, but the country inspired me; wide open spaces, abundance of wildlife, 360 days of sunshine and the smell of the earth after the first rain (if Chanel, Dior, or whoever could put that smell in a bottle I would be the biggest user). I love horses, especially purebred Arabians, horse riding and what better way to do that than in Africa.

4.    If you hadn’t become a riding guide, what was your Plan B?

I would either have stayed an HR Manager or just mucked out stables, I guess. I have never thought about it. I don’t think there ever was a plan B!

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5.    People coming on a riding holiday often think you have the ideal job – what do you love about it? And what are the downsides?

What is it there not love about the job? Being outside, enjoying beautiful scenery, having gorgeous Arabian horses around me and seeing smiles on the faces of my guests. The downside? Well I could say there is none, but then I would be telling a lie. The most horrible thing is to have to say goodbye to a much-loved horse. That is something I cannot and do not want to get used to.

6.    If your favourite horse was a human, who would he/she be and why?

I have a few favourites, but the one who always makes my heart beat faster is my Monster as I affectionately call him. His official name is ‘Nabilah the Makers Masterpiece’, a straight Egyptian Arabian grey gelding who is turning 20 in December. He has a wicked sense of humour, is a drinker of the wind and I trust him with my life. If he would be human, most probably he would be my husband!

Masterpiece & Ingeborg

7.    What can you not live without (when guiding or just generally)?

When guiding I couldn’t do without a good lead horse. In general it’s difficult for me to live without sunshine, white wine, my horses, dog and cats and my family – and not in this particular order.

8.    What has been your most memorable riding holiday week?

My most memorable endurance ride was the competition where my guests and I all came first in our different weight categories and distances, and won some Best Conditioned Horse Awards. My most embarrassing competition was where I fell off my horse in front of my guest rider and ended up in hospital. Thank goodness, the guest rider continued and finished the ride!

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Finding my most memorable safari week or ride is very difficult; there have been so many memorable riders and rides, and situations. My most memorable rider is a Belgian lady, saying that even though she loved the place, horses and rides she would not return as there were so many more beautiful riding places that she were on her bucket list. But then she came back every single year, once or twice until the year she passed away. My most memorable ride was earlier this year when taking guest riders on their first ride and meeting 2 male leopards having a springbok breakfast, followed by a rhino sighting, followed by being enclosed by giraffe, followed by ….. I had to explain to them that this was exceptional and to please don’t expect this every single day! My most memorable situation was when we were having a good canter and suddenly 2 rhino came thundering out of the thickets deciding to join us for a short while; our tempo increased slightly and so did our adrenaline level!!

9.    How do you relax after a day in the saddle?

I sit on my stoop with a good book, a glass of Sauvignon Blanc being greeted by Doggos, my dog and being surrounded by purring cats.

10.    What advice would you give a 21-year-old who wants to train for your job?

Look, listen and learn, be aware of your surroundings, horses and guests and the interaction between those 3.

11.    Where do you go on holiday?

To Europe to visit family.

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Thank you Ingeborg for some fantastic images and another interesting article. Olwen and the team look forward to seeing you in a few weeks’ time.

You can meet Ingeborg from Okapuka at the Riding Holiday Show in London on 12 December 2015. Space at the venue is limited so you must obtain a ticket in advance. The event takes place at the Royal Overseas League in SW1 just off Piccadilly from 10 am to 6 pm.

38 different riding destinations will be represented at the Riding Holiday Show. All part of the In The Saddle portfolio of worldwide riding holidays

Categories: Equestrian Travel, horse riding, Horses & riding, in the saddle, in the saddle, Ride reviews, Riding Holidays, riding holidays namibia, Riding safaris, The Riding Holiday Show, Travel advice, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Meet the Guides” at The Riding Holiday Show – Magnus Sigmundsson from Iceland

The Riding Holiday Show on 12 December will be full to the brim with talented and experienced riding guides from around the world. Here, we have an article written by Magnus Sigmundsson from Iceland.

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1. How long have you been a riding guide?    

Since 1985.

2. Did you do any guiding before becoming involved with Hestasport?

No, I learned first to guide and lead horse tours from old friends, Björn Sveinsson and Ragnar Stefánsson. I grew up in the countryside of Skagafjörður, in north Iceland. Our valley is often called “The valley of the horses” because history and breeding of the Icelandic horse is very connected to this place, all the way back to the time of settlement. I studied to be a marine engineer and sailed between the harbours of the world for many years, but the countryside and horses were always on my mind.

3. How did you get into guiding? Was there someone who inspired you?

Sveinn, the father of Björn was a very good friend of my father and we can say that he started long horse riding tours in Iceland in 1974 when he rode with a group of 13 riding guests from Switzerland across Iceland from North to South. Of course people have travelled on horseback all around the world for thousands of years, but this way Sveinn was the “founder of Hestasport”.

I was fascinated with everything connected to these tours. The horses were beautiful and in great shape, the adventurous riding trails surrounded by the untouched highlands of Iceland were breath taking.  To me horse riding is like a dance between two different worlds. Therefore it was especially great to see how much horse people from other countries enjoyed exactly this feeling, when riding the unique gated horses in the Icelandic nature. The Icelandic horse is the only breed in Iceland and as far as we know, the only naturally five gaited horse breed in the world.  So for a long time Icelanders didn’t realise how unique this breed had developed on the island, since the first settlers brought it here.

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4. If you hadn’t become a riding guide, what was your Plan B?

I liked to be a sailor, but I have always been a nature “lover”. I was interested in the idea of sharing nature experience with other people by building up tourism in Iceland and especially in my area, the Skagafjord, where so many possibilities were not yet discovered.

5. People coming on a riding holiday often think you have the ideal job – what do you love about it? And what are the downsides?

To open possibilities for other people to experience the same exciting and fun things that I love so much. To enjoy the horses in the wild Icelandic nature and create some unforgettable memories.

Guiding and organising horse tours is a huge physical and mental effort. But of course it is also fulfilling and lots of fun and that’s also where the energy comes from that I need!

6. If your favourite horse was a human, who would he/she be and why?

After so many years of guiding horse tours it is a bit hard to make a difference between many unforgettable good horses that were my favourites. Every single one of them had it’s own unique characteristics. I adore horses that are courageous, soft, strong, willing to work and know where to put down their feet. Many of them are gone but I am happy to mention: Taktur, Búi, Gimsteinn, Jarpur and . . . and . . . what about comparing them to . . .  Rolando! 😉

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7. What can you not live without (when guiding or just generally)?

I need to be alone every once in a while.

8. What has been your most memorable riding holiday week?

A lot of years ago we were riding the Kjölur route across the country on a six day tour, with 13 guests who were all men from the Faroe Islands that were all relatives and friends. This tour was memorable for a lot of reasons. I will gladly tell you the stories of this trip when we meet in Iceland.

9. How do you relax after a day in the saddle?

After a long horse trip I like to go for a walk and then relax in the hot tub.

10. What advice would you give a 21-year-old who wants to train for your job?

Use those good years and gain some more knowledge and experience from lots of places.

11. Where do you go on holiday?

I love to visit warm countries with a lot of sunshine. Last year I was in Nepal to visit good friends.

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Thank you Magnus for some fantastic images and another amazing article. Olwen and the team look forward to seeing you in a few weeks’ time.

You can meet Magnus from Iceland at the Riding Holiday Show in London on 12 December 2015. Space at the venue is limited so you must obtain a ticket in advance. The event takes place at the Royal Overseas League in SW1 just off Piccadilly from 10 am to 6 pm.

38 different riding destinations will be represented at the Riding Holiday Show. All part of the In The Saddle portfolio of worldwide riding holidays.

 

Categories: Equestrian Travel, horse riding, Horses & riding, in the saddle, in the saddle, Ride reviews, Riding expeditions, Riding Holidays, Riding in Iceland, The Riding Holiday Show, Travel advice, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Meet the Guides” at The Riding Holiday Show – Rudi from Catalonia in Spain

Here is another popular guide Rudi Stolz from Spain. You can meet Rudi at the Riding Holiday Show on 12 December 2015.

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1. How long have you been guiding in Catalonia?

It’s been 21 years now!

2. Where did you guide before this?

Before I came to Spain, I used to work as a mountain guide in the Alps.

3. How did you get into guiding? Was there someone who inspired you?

I always loved working with the horses and had the idea of doing this work in Spain. I decided to move to Spain and build up my own business with trail riding –  and that’s how I got into guiding. I came here with an inspiration and did everything to make my idea become true.

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4. If you hadn’t become a riding guide, what was your Plan B?

There was no Plan B for me. I knew I wanted to offer trail riding in Spain and did all that it needed to make this plan work – and it has worked.

5. People coming on a riding holiday often think you have the ideal job – what do you love about it? And what are the downsides?

Actually, to me this job is truly perfect. Being outside, being with horses and with people is a perfect combination for me. I cannot imagine any other job that could be as satisfying as mine!
The downsides? That’s the paperwork that unfortunately also needs to be done!

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6. If your favourite horse was a human, who would he/she be and why?

My favourite horse is Tornado. If he were a human, he would be a very important friend of mine. Someone to whom I have a special bond, a very trustful relationship. I know that he would do anything for me and the teamwork is simply perfect. That’s how it is with Tornado – he is as powerful, reliable friend who has my full confidence.

7. What can you not live without (when guiding or just generally)?

Horses! As a guide I cannot live without a very good lead horse. And generally, I just can’t imagine a life without these animals around me.

8. What has been your most memorable riding holiday week?

Once I had a very special guest; a blind man contacted me with the wish to come on a trail with me. I invited him to come to Mas Alba for two days to see if it worked. I took him out on rides  and we tried out the different situations that you deal with on a trail. The result was that he did the Mediterranean Trail – and it was amazing, how he managed everything! He totally fitted into the group and he did everything the others did; he brushed his horse, he put the saddle and the bridle on by himself, he always knew where his things were and where he had to go. It really was a miracle and to me the most memorable ride with guests I ever had!

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9. How do you relax after a day in the saddle?

To me, the question should be how I relax after a day that I do NOT spend in the saddle…really, being in the saddle is nothing I have to relax from! The moment I get on my horse, I feel like being on a holiday!

10. What advice would you give a 21-year-old who wants to train for your job?

Of course it is important that working with horses is the thing you really want to do and the thing you’re good at. Then, you also have to be sensitive to the people whom you guide. But the art of being a really good guide is to create a unity out of these two beings. Having a sense for bringing horses and people together and make them harmonize is a challenge – and it is a great thing when you see it work! Another important thing is that you keep in mind the time you spend away from home. Being a riding guide is wonderful, but you should really think about if this part of the job is something you can – and want to – handle.

11. Where do you go on holiday?

Actually I don’t really need to go on holiday, as my job gives me the feeling of being on holiday. But when the season is over, I have time to see other places. I travelled to Europe, North and South America – wherever I go, I spend my holiday there on horseback!

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Thank you Rudi for some fantastic images and another amazing article. Olwen and the team look forward to seeing you in a few weeks’ time.

You can meet Rudi from Spain at the Riding Holiday Show in London on 12 December 2015. Space at the venue is limited so you must obtain a ticket in advance. The event takes place at the Royal Overseas League in SW1 just off Piccadilly from 10 am to 6 pm.

38 different riding destinations will be represented at the Riding Holiday Show. All part of the In The Saddle portfolio of worldwide riding holidays.

Categories: Equestrian Travel, horse riding, Horses & riding, in the saddle, Ride reviews, Riding expeditions, Riding Holidays, Riding in Spain | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Meet the Guides” at The Riding Holiday Show – Anna Wirth-Snell from Montana

The Riding Holiday Show on 12 December will be full to the brim with talented and experienced riding guides for you to meet from around the world. Here, we have an article by a guide who needs little introduction, Anna Wirth-Snell from Rocking Z in Montana.

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1.    How long have you been guiding at Rocking Z?    

I have grown up on the Rocking Z Guest Ranch.

2.    How did you get into guiding? Was there someone who inspired you?

From the age of 10 I have been helping where able, and teaching what was valuable to our guests.

3.    If you hadn’t become a riding guide, what was your Plan B?

Now, at 27 with a Masters degree from Durham University, I will be able to write on the history of Horsemanship as well as teach Horsemanship in person.

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4.    People coming on a riding holiday often think you have the ideal job – what do you love about it? And what are the downsides?

I feel proud when I’ve swept the barn, and when the dishes are finished, and especially when I’ve caused a horse to become more relaxed or helped a guest do their first canter.  Without feeling proud of the accomplishments, it could be very difficult to remain happy with the hours of close contact with guests and limited privacy inherent to working on a guest facility.

5.    If your favourite horse was a human, who would he/she be and why?

My best (and favourite) horses are a Quarter Horse named Cougar, for her colour, a Connemara cross Andalusian named Dante for how much he challenges me to improve, and a Tennessee Walking horse cross Connemara named Sizzle.

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6.    What can you not live without (when guiding or just generally)?

Sizzle is my hangover horse – an absolute necessity in this industry, for no matter how unwell I feel he will take care of me and my guests and has perfect walk-canter, canter-walk transitions for taking care of a headache! I believe that every guide needs a horse they can rely on no matter what, like Sizzle is for me.

7.    What has been your most memorable riding holiday week?

When I was only 12 I received such gratitude for the way I taught the rising trot that I was hooked! I love teaching and could never be fully content with any other work.

8.    How do you relax after a day in the saddle?

After a long day I love to relax by working with a young horse, often in front of an audience, because the youngsters have such an openness to learning that it inspires me for the following day as well as giving me the sense of accomplishment that allows me to have a good night’s sleep.

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9.    What advice would you give a 21-year-old who wants to train for your job?

I can’t imagine not having done this job, but I think it is not suited to a person who doesn’t gain pride from all the small jobs.

10.    Where do you go on holiday?

When winter does come, I vacation by being alone at the ranch with only the horses for company.  After a few months of solitude, the next year comes along with me having honed more teaching skills and possessing more tuned and athletic horses for our guests to ride!

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Thank you Anna for some fantastic images and another interesting article. Olwen and the team look forward to seeing you in a few weeks’ time.

You can meet Anna from Rocking Z at the Riding Holiday Show in London on 12 December 2015. Space at the venue is limited so you must obtain a ticket in advance. The event takes place at the Royal Overseas League in SW1 just off Piccadilly from 10 am to 6 pm.

38 different riding destinations will be represented at the Riding Holiday Show. All part of the In The Saddle portfolio of worldwide riding holidays.

Categories: Equestrian Travel, horse riding, Horses & riding, in the saddle, in the saddle, Ranch holidays, Ride reviews, Riding Holidays, Riding in Montana, The Riding Holiday Show, Travel advice | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Meet the Guides” at The Riding Holiday Show – Diogo from Monte Velho

Read here about Diogo Lima Mayer, manager of the wonderful Monte Velho in Portugal. You can meet Diogo, Francisco, Mariana and Gonçalo from Monte Velho at the Riding Holiday Show on 12 December 2015.

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1.    How long have you been taking riding guests at Monte Velho? How did it all begin?

The ‘Monte Velho’ Stud Farm was established in 1994, when my parents bought the property in an unpredictable move. My father’s passion for horses came after a medical prescription, following a stress diagnosis caused by overworking. At that time, he bought his first horse named ‘Embaixador’ and started having riding lessons in Quinta do Pombal in Sintra, very close to our family home. Things got more serious when he joined two friends and bought the first mares in the Alter Real auction in 1992, which are still the pillars of our stud-farm.

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Since I was a child, I remember coming almost every weekend to Monte Velho with our family, where my enthusiasm for our breeding and genetics has born. Our property was exclusively dedicated to the family and the Lusitano breeding until 2013, when we’ve decided it was time to share our treasure with other people. Almost all riding infrastructures were already built to support the stud-farm, so with the construction of the rooms we were ready to start the project.

2. What has been your biggest achievement to date? This could be in riding, or anything related to Monte Velho.

The Monte Velho’s horses have won several national and international awards, both in Dressage contests and also model/gaits shows. I would perhaps highlight the 4 Champion of Champions awards that we have won, with three of our horses, in the most important Lusitano horse Competition – The International Festival of the Lusitano Horse.

Queizosa MVL

Queixosa MVL won the Festival in 2000 and 2005, Vexada MVL won in 2007 and Dihamante MVL in 2011. Queixosa MVL is still the best scoring mare within the Lusitano breed among more than 5000 mares spread worldwide. For the future we aim to have a MVL horse competing in the Olympic Games. We’re working consistently on that direction, and within our young squad of competition horses there is a lot of talent!

3.    How did you get in to riding? Was there someone who inspired you?

My father was the one who has sowed the seed and the passion for horses in me, since I was 7 years old. I have always been the riding travelling companion of my dad, and his fellow on the equestrian activities in Monte Velho. He’s still without any doubt my biggest inspiration.

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4.    If you hadn’t become involved in equestrian tourism, what was your Plan B? Or perhaps you have another job too?

Prior to join the Monte Velho Equo-Resort project, I had a managerial career with L’Oréal Paris, where I was a brand manager in DPGP – Mass Market. My marketing and managerial experience background has been very helpful in my new experience as Hotel Director.

5.    People coming on a riding holiday often think you have the ideal job – what do you love about it? And what are the downsides?

This is absolutely true. Actually this job has surpassed all my initial expectations, working with nice people, good horses in a beautiful place, you can’t get any better. But it can also be extremely stressful some days, guaranteeing that every day all our guests have their horses in impeccable condition and prepared in time, it’s always a challenge!

6.    If your favourite horse was a human, who would he/she be and why?

My favorite horse in Monte Velho is called GIRALDO MVL (Rubi AR x Vexada MVL). Giraldo is a 4 year-old stallion with the best genetics we can possibly find within the Lusitano breed. His father competed in the London Olympic Games 2012 (placed 14th in the Final) and his mother was a Champion of Champions with 86 points.

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I call Giraldo the ‘Mustang’ because of all his power, his daring character that makes no one indifferent. I believe he can be The One. If he was a human? Perhaps he would be Mohammad Ali. Let’s hope that Giraldo can win as much as Ali did!

7.    What can you not live without (when hosting, riding or just generally)?

My mobile phone! Managing a team of 12 people and knowing we have daily changes to our schedules and some unforeseen events, means your phone rings almost every minute. Much of my job is co-ordinating my team duties and activities, and assuring that our guest comments are processed in-time to everyone, to change whatever is necessary.

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8.    What has been your most memorable ride or time at Monte Velho?

I’ve had many memorable rides in Monte Velho, but I think the most memorable one was during last week. The group was composed of very experienced riders used to hacking with a lot of speed in their countries. I asked the group if they wanted a long canter. The answer was yes, and I had the same feeling of skiing from the top of the mountain down to village! It was a 15 minute canter, where we passed by three different properties, with moments of collected canter and faster canter as well. The 5 horses were always together, and it was rewarding to her one of them saying to me it has been the best hacking of his life.

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9.  How do you relax after a day in the saddle or hosting guests?

A long hot shower is the best you can get after a busy day! At least for me!

10.    What advice would you give a 21-year-old who wants to train for your job?

I think managing an equestrian tourism business requires a set of different skills, from Business, Economics, Hotel Management, leadership and obviously Equestrian experience. I think my equestrian background gained from my childhood has helped a lot in this experience, but I would say the relationship and the experience we provide to our guests is the most important at the end of the day. The advice would be to have a consistent preparation, as this job requires a set of multi-task management and strong relationship insights to provide unique moments to the riders.

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11.    Where do you go on holiday?

I spend all the year thinking about my skiing vacations! I’m fortunate to travel to a ski resort in Switzerland every year, normally in February.

Thank you Diogo for an insight into life at Monte Velho. We look forward to seeing you in a few weeks’ time.

You can meet Diogo, Francisco, Mariana and Gonçalo from Monte Velho at the Riding Holiday Show in London on 12 December 2015. Space at the venue is limited so you must obtain a ticket in advance. The event takes place at the Royal Overseas League in SW1 just off Piccadilly from 10 am to 6 pm.

38 different riding destinations will be represented at the Riding Holiday Show. All part of the In The Saddle portfolio of worldwide riding holidays.

Categories: Dressage, Equestrian Travel, horse riding, Horses & riding, in the saddle, in the saddle, Lusitanos, Ride reviews, Riding Holidays, Riding Holidays Portugal, The Riding Holiday Show | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Meet the Guides” at The Riding Holiday Show – Yair Sharet from Israel

Here is another very talented guide Yair Sharet from Israel. Meet Yair at the Riding Holiday Show on 12 December 2015.

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1.    How long have you been guiding in Israel?

I established Sirin Riders in 2010 and I have guided all the rides ever since then.

2.    Where did you guide before this?

I never guided rides before. I used to organize trail rides for group of friends all over Israel, but it was not until I started Sirin Riders that I began to guide in a professional way.

3.    How did you get into guiding? Was there someone who inspired you?

Horses for me are not a hobby, they are a way of life, from the day that I remember myself  I am with horses. As a boy that was born in Kibbutz at the Jordan valley, I use to spend most of my time with my horses exploring the beautiful places of the Jordan valley. At a later stage I bought purebred Arabians mares that I used for breeding and trail riding.
In 2010, I left my position as EVP global marketing & sales for multinational company. I wanted to open my own business. The combination of horses & tourism attracted me. I surfed the net and there I saw some web sites offering international riding holidays. I read some of these web pages, and then I said “Israel should be in this industry, and I will be the one that will make it happen”…and the rest is history.

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4.    If you hadn’t become a riding guide, what was your Plan B?

I would have stayed in the multinational business management arena.

5.    People coming on a riding holiday often think you have the ideal job – what do you love about it? And what are the downsides?

I really love what I am doing. In some cases I find myself riding on a Saturday morning, while I know that on Sunday I am about to start Tour Israel ride of 7 riding days, then I realize that in my free day (in Israel Saturday is our free day) I do exactly what I am doing in my working day!

I like the way that group of strangers that I meet at the airport at the beginning of the ride, transform within few days to a team of riders and friends. I love to see how the landscape changes every time, although we ride on the same trails. I enjoy watching the change in the perception in my guests’ minds toward Israel when they learn how beautiful and welcoming Israel is.

On the other hand sometime I miss the economical benefits of being top manager in multinational company.

6.    If your favourite horse was a human, who would he/she be and why?

My favorite horse is my purebred stallion Velaskes. He is a retired racing horse, I imported him from Russia in 2014.

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It’s a pure joy to ride on him. He is a very special combination of a top athlete and a very responsive horse. As a breeding stallion he has some “issues” with mares so I use him for our trail rides just as my lead horse and on very special occasions. He reminds me of Alex the lion, from the movie “Madagascar” – Beautiful, strong, and full of self esteem!

7.    What can you not live without (when guiding or just generally)?

A “must have” when I am on a ride is my coffee saddle bag. It gives me the option to prepare coffee wherever we stop for a break and whenever it’s needed. I carry on my saddle bag everything that I need in order to solve most of the problems that may happen during a ride.

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8.    What has been your most memorable riding holiday week?

The Exploratory Ride with In The Saddle in April 2011 is a week I will never forget. So much rain, every possible problem that could happen happened, and lot of nice ideas from my side that didn’t really work. At the end of this week I was so exhausted and depressed, and I was sure that that’s the end of my relation with In The Saddle. But then I had a feedback meeting with Tracy, who explained how impressed she had been with the horses, guiding and our ability to overcome the obstacles we encountered during the week. I can say that we improved dramatically from this 2011 ride.

9.    How do you relax after a day in the saddle?

I relax during the ride, because when I come home after the ride I cannot relax – not with 5 children aged 9 to 22!

10.    What advice would you give a 21-year-old who wants to train for your job?

Go for it! It is the best thing that you can do for a living. A word of caution – don’t make any promoises that you can’t fulfill, just surprise them when you can do more.

11.    Where do you go on holiday?

Skiing with the family at Monte Genevre in France.

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Thank you Yair for some fantastic images and another amazing article. We all look forward to seeing you in a few weeks’ time.

You can meet Yair from Israel at the Riding Holiday Show in London on 12 December 2015. Space at the venue is limited so you must obtain a ticket in advance. The event takes place at the Royal Overseas League in SW1 just off Piccadilly from 10 am to 6 pm.

38 different riding destinations will be represented at the Riding Holiday Show. All part of the In The Saddle portfolio of worldwide riding holidays.

Categories: Equestrian Travel, horse riding, Horses & riding, in the saddle, in the saddle, Ride reviews, Riding expeditions, Riding Holidays, Riding in Israel, The Riding Holiday Show, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Meet the Guides” at The Riding Holiday Show – Annie Waterer from Ol Donyo Lodge in Kenya

Continuing with our meet the guide blog, here you can read more about Annie’s life as a riding guide at Ol Donyo Lodge – you will be able to meet Annie at the Riding Holiday Show on 12 December 2015.

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1.    How long have you been guiding at Ol Donyo Lodge?

I have been in the beautiful Chyulu Hills for just over 2 years now.

2. here did you guide before this?

I started in the Maasai Mara straight out of University. It was a unique opportunity to work in one of the most diverse wildlife destinations in the world with a very experienced company.

3. How did you get into guiding? Was there someone who inspired you?

Accidentally! It was never something that was even on my radar until I arrived in Kenya and fell in love with its wildlife, scenery and people. Both my parents grew up in Kenya and my grandparents still live in Nairobi, so although my childhood was spent in sunny Suffolk it had a distinctly Kenyan theme. Riding safaris into the local forest were a regular event with sundowners on the estuary and “bundu bashing” through the bracken! Horses have always played a big part in my life – I started at Pony Club and competed in both Eventing and playing Polocrosse, until specialising in the latter in my mid-teens. Polocrosse is an up-and-coming  fantastic high speed horse sport that I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to play all over the world. So the combination of horses and my passion for the natural world made the step in guiding actually a very simple one.

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4. If you hadn’t become a riding guide, what was your Plan B?

I studied Biological Sciences at Bristol and I was supposed to return from Kenya after a couple of months to start teacher training – as you can tell that never happened!

5. People coming on a riding holiday often think you have the ideal job – what do you love about it? And what are the downsides?

I love that the Acacia forests and the open plains are my office, that the traffic I encounter on my way to work is a browsing elephant on the road. And to be able to be there with guests and see their reaction when they experience some of the magic of this beautiful country and its wildlife for the first time.

It is not the kind of job that you can just walk away from and go on holiday without a care though. The responsibility for the horses health and well-being is solely mine and being in such a remote area with limited access to a vet, there is always some part of my mind that is on the job and worrying about something or other!

6. If your favourite horse was a human, who would he/she be and why?

Zulu, a 15hh grey Boerperd gelding. He knows what I’m thinking before I do!

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7. What can you not live without (when guiding or just generally)?

My camera, my dog Swala and a hot shower at the end of the day!

8.    What has been your most memorable riding holiday week?

It’s too hard to pin it down to just one, but I would say that any ride with one of the bull elephants in the area is special. When they know that you’re there and accept your presence, it’s a truly humbling experience.

9.    How do you relax after a day in the saddle?

Walks and sundowners with friends and the dogs.

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10.    What advice would you give a 21-year-old who wants to train for your job?

See the world outside your given box as much as possible, experience what you can and be interested in everything. Learn to talk to and find common ground with anyone! And do as much as veterinary work experience as possible.

11.    Where do you go on holiday?

I have the longest “to go to” list you have ever seen, and that’s currently still just Africa! I have a lot of exploring to do.

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Thank you Annie for some fantastic images and another amazing article. Olwen and the team look forward to seeing you in a few weeks’ time.

You can meet Annie from Ol Donyo Lodge at the Riding Holiday Show in London on 12 December 2015. Space at the venue is limited so you must obtain a ticket in advance. The event takes place at the Royal Overseas League in SW1 just off Piccadilly from 10 am to 6 pm.

38 different riding destinations will be represented at the Riding Holiday Show. All part of the In The Saddle portfolio of worldwide riding holidays.

Categories: Equestrian Travel, horse riding, Horseback safari in Kenya, Horses & riding, in the saddle, in the saddle, Riding at Ol Donyo Lodge, Riding Holidays, riding holidays africa, Riding safaris, The Riding Holiday Show, Travel advice, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Meet the Guides” at The Riding Holiday Show – John Sobey from Macatoo, Botswana

Continuing with our meet the guide blogs here is another talented and popular guide, John Sobey from Macatoo –  you will be able to meet John at the Riding Holiday Show on 12 December 2015.

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1.    How long have you been guiding at Macatoo?    

We started Macatoo back in 1995, so it is over 20 years now.

2.    Where did you guide before this?

Before Macatoo I was based in Maun, Botswana doing mobile safaris (1993-95), as well as guiding in Zimbabwe, Namibia and Zambia. I have also guided on horseback in Kenya and Tanzania.

3.    How did you get into guiding? Was there someone who inspired you?

For as long as I can remember I had always wanted to live and work in Africa, so guiding seemed to be the natural route to take.  Also I knew more about horses than cars so horseback guiding was really the only option for me! I first went to South Africa, but soon realised that Botswana was the only place offering the true wilderness that I was searching for.

4.    If you hadn’t become a riding guide, what was your Plan B?

I have no idea, there was no Plan B!

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5.    People coming on a riding holiday often think you have the ideal job – what do you love about it? And what are the downsides?

There really is so much that makes the job amazing, not least because guiding in the Okavango is always different, it’s never the same. High water, low water or no water, the seasonal variation is never-ending. That is why I came back to the Delta out of all the other locations. The down sides are you cannot watch enough rugby (but given England’s recent performance perhaps that’s a plus….?!).

6.    If your favourite horse was a human, who would he/she be and why?

My favourite horse was ‘Ambos’, a 16.3hh Hanoverian. He was an amazing powerhouse of a  horse but was the perfect, trusting lead horse. He would lead in to any problem without question. Who would he be if he was a human…that’s too tough a question to answer, but probably somebody brave!

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7.    What can you not live without (when guiding or just generally)?

I couldn’t live without the open spaces and the wilderness, it’s what I’ve become so used to now.

8.    What has been your most memorable riding holiday week?

There really are so many memories, its hard to choose. Galloping alongside a herd of giraffe and zebra with Sir  Mark Todd was not bad!

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9.    How do you relax after a day in the saddle?

With a book or newspaper back at my tent overlooking the floodplains.

10.    What advice would you give a 21-year-old who wants to train for your job?

I would say don’t think that it it’s going to be easy; there are no quick routes. You will have to be prepared to start at the bottom and work your way up, but the end result will be worth it.

11.    Where do you go on holiday?

Holidays are few and far between, but where possible I try to get out to visit other camps and lodges in Botswana to learn more and get more ideas. After being out in the bush for long stints it’s also nice to just to relax and spend some time at home.

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Thank you John for some fantastic images and another amazing article. Olwen and the team look forward to seeing you in a few weeks’ time.

You can meet John from Macatoo at the Riding Holiday Show in London on 12 December 2015. Space at the venue is limited so you must obtain a ticket in advance. The event takes place at the Royal Overseas League in SW1 just off Piccadilly from 10 am to 6 pm.

38 different riding destinations will be represented at the Riding Holiday Show. All part of the In The Saddle portfolio of worldwide riding holidays.

Categories: Equestrian Safety, Equestrian Travel, horse riding, Horses & riding, in the saddle, Ride reviews, riding botswana, Riding expeditions, Riding Holidays, riding holidays africa, Riding Macatoo, Riding Okavango Delta, Riding safaris, The Riding Holiday Show, Travel advice, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Paradise in Mozambique – Africa, but not as you know it

In this feature, Kim Simkins tells us about her recent trip and why we should all be adding Mozambique to our bucket list.

Where are you going? Where is that and why on earth would you want to go there?

Those are the two questions I was most frequently asked when I merrily told everyone I had booked a riding holiday in Mozambique!

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I was desperate for sunshine and some serious relaxation before the worst of the Christmas and winter blues set in. Limited time and dates restricted my options somewhat. In The Saddle talked me through various options and I bit the bullet and booked ‘African Paradise’. I thought it unsuitable for my usual holiday partner in crime, as she had been ‘beached out’ on previous riding trips. However, she was feeling about as desperate as I was for a break and decided that she would join me anyway.

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So the two musketeers set off into the complete unknown without too many expectations, third world after all?! We tucked away the bottle of duty free gin in our bags, praying that just maybe they might have heard of tonic in such a far flung and remote place!

We laughed as the pilot announced the weather was warm but raining. We decided that it really didn’t matter and we were going to enjoy ourselves regardless! The tiny airport at Vilanculos gave us our first insight into African philosophy, i.e.  how many men and how long it takes to stamp a passport! It was great to eventually get through somewhat dishevelled and exhausted and to be met by a warm and friendly whirlwind in the form of Mandy Retzlaff!

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We were whisked away and driven to a lovely lunch at Archipelago Lodge, a wonderful setting, overlooking the beach, palm trees and azure blue sea. We felt a little guilty that we had eaten the awful airline sandwich, and didn’t feel we could do lunch justice! A lovely cool drink and a refreshing sea breeze suddenly made us feel human again. We were swiftly  taken to our wonderful lodge to freshen up before meeting the horses, the stars of the show.

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Rachel had read  Mandy’s book ‘104 Horses’, the incredible story of how Mandy and Pat Retzlaff had been forced out from their farm in Zimbabwe and had rescued their horses and set up a new life as a safari business but with countless hardships and disasters along the way. It was humbling to meet such wonderful people who had been through such awful experiences and yet maintained their boundless enthusiasm for people, horses and life in general!

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The yard was buzzing with activity, horses tied up, beautifully groomed, and saddles lined up at the ready. We were the only residential guests for the week and we were introduced to various horses who Pat thought would fit our requirements. He explained their characters and we were given the choice of who we wanted to try. ‘If you don’t like one, we can try another, and what sort of saddle and reins do you like?!’ Really, now that’s new on us, and we have done a lot of these trips!

So we climbed aboard the skylarks, I got a very cheeky and characterful little horse called Brutus who thought he would just test me out for size and then decided that as I could ride, he would agree to my demands – and proved to be an absolute gem through the week! Rachel settled on Black Magic and we tested out our steering and brakes in the school before setting off on our first ride to the beach, accompanied by Pat and Donna (one of the volunteers).

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The tide was high but there was still enough beach to follow the edge of the tide line and admire the lovely white sand, countless small fishing boats and lots of birds. We had a leisurely test ride enjoying the wonderful sound of the waves lapping on the shore, and feeling the wind in our faces as the light gently faded and we splashed along the waters edge in the dark. The long flight now seemed forever ago and we were caught completely in the moment.

After a good night’s sleep, I was woken by the dawn chorus of the kingfisher in the tree outside. I watched a fantastic sunrise and the parade of local women balancing baskets on theirs heads as they walked along the beach; the men setting off on their fishing trips out to the sand banks on their dhows. The sound of people singing drifted up as they pulled in their nets and paddled their boats past the bottom of the garden.

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After a sumptuous breakfast, we set off in high spirits under blue skies and African sun on our first adventure riding to the Red Dune. The  tide was out and a glorious beach stretched out in an endless expanse all the way to the horizon. The horses were full of enthusiasm but not at all silly and the hard sand was perfect for some fabulous extended gallops along the beach, side by side. There was such a wonderful sense of space, emptiness and freedom, more than I have experienced anywhere else (and I have ridden all round the world). Our only instructions were to stick to the hard sand for the sake of the horses legs and to avoid ropes and anchors in the areas with boats. ‘Stop when you reach the blue boat you can just see in the distance and I will catch you up’, said Pat. Fishermen were dotted at intervals along the beaches, painting and maintaining their boats which were high and dry until the next tide, they glanced up and waved as we went by.

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The bird life was amazing, especially busy at the waters edge. Flocks of sandpipers, whimbrels, egrets and cormorants took off en masse as we splashed through the puddles of water left amongst the wave rippled sand. The colour of the sky and the clouds was reflected like a mirror in the pools and the mud crabs scurried for cover into their holes as hooves thundered by.

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We were met at lunch by our ground crew and the horses were given a well earned break whilst Mandy refreshed us with re-hydrating coconut water and then force-fed us more amazing seafood than we could ever have dreamt of eating in one sitting, all washed down with the wonderful Casal Garcia, a semi-sparkling white wine. Wondering how we would ever manage to get back on a horse after such a large lunch, we were helped back into the saddle and galloped on to the amazing orange Red Dune! A steep canter up the shifting sand dune was rewarded with a stupendous view of the whole area, sea and sand banks. The colour of the water and sand spits was amazing and gave you a whole new perspective than that down at sea level. It was almost a disappointment to have to leave the viewpoint to ride back along the beach.

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Time for a swim in the pool in the afternoon and a swift gin and tonic (yes Mandy had found us tonic!) before dinner and an amazing and sociable evening dining with Mandy, Pat, their friends and volunteer. A great board game afterwards, lots of laughter and swapping of stories and talk of the rest of the weeks plans, finished off by a glass of wine on our verandah and a bar of Dairy Milk (Mandy, you really are amazing, you think of everything!) What a wonderful end to a perfect day!

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The rest of the week was a delightful series of varied beach and inland rides, visits to the local markets and fishing villages. Mandy and Pat are walking encyclopedias, so knowledgeable about the history, culture, flora and fauna of the region. We had a lovely authentic lunch cooked in the fishing village with its thatched huts and bright red flamboyant tree. Then we watched the children sing and dance for us before giving out pens, pencils and books. Their excited faces and smiles were so worth the ride out there. The horses were also very happy as they love the fresh coconut pieces and refuse to leave until they have all gone,  Brutus was in seventh heaven, his ears were so pricked, it was untrue and I was mugged until my pocket was empty!

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Visiting the other islands in the archipelago was amazing, stunning empty white sandy beaches reminiscent of Robinson Crusoe. Pink shore crabs patrolling the surf, wonderful snorkelling with multi coloured fish and beautiful sand dunes towering above a thousand shades of blue water. The view from the top of the dune on Bazaruto was a breathtaking 360 degree panorama and well worth the climb. The ride on Benguerra was quite different from the mainland, although Tequila didn’t quite manage to steal my heart like Brutus had!

The canoe trip along the river was wonderful, sitting back and being paddled amongst the purple water lilies on flat calm water, the peace broken only by the flapping of herons and other waterfowl that we disturbed! A lovely glass of chilled white wine whilst watching the setting of the sun, was amazing but the paddle home in the dark with the fireflies flitting overhead and glowing like little fairy lights actually made me cry! It was magical and emotional and a memory that will stay with me forever.

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Mandy and Pat are some of the most gracious and wonderful hosts we have ever come across, nothing was too much trouble. Their passion and enthusiasm despite the hardship is inspiring and they showed us an Africa that we never new existed, beautiful in its own way but real (warts and all). Food and accommodation could not be faulted, third world it most certainly was not. However you need to go with an open mind, a sense of humour and a willingness to let go of our obsession with time. Love it for what it is!

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The horses are the key to the whole story here, they were wonderful and gave us everything we asked for and so much more. The Retzlaff’s made us so welcome, we came home completely relaxed and rested. Mozambique was the perfect remedy and we have vowed to return! Anyone who doubts the merits of this wonderful country should think again and give it a go, I am sure Mandy and Pat would love to share it with you and I am sure you will be as captivated as we were!

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Categories: Equestrian Travel, horse riding, Horses & riding, in the saddle, in the saddle, Ride reviews, Riding Holidays, riding holidays africa, Riding Mozambique, Riding safaris, The Riding Holiday Show, Travel advice, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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