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.
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!
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.
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.
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.