Monthly Archives: December 2015

“Meet the Guides” at The Riding Holiday Show – David True from Arizona

Rounding off our articles about the guides who will be at the Riding Holiday Show on 12 December 2015 is David True from White Stallion ranch in Arizona.

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1. How long have you been guiding at White Stallion?

I have lived on the ranch my whole life (my family owns it). I have been a wrangler since I was 16.

2. Did you guide anywhere else? 

No.

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

Watching my family run the business inspired me to learn all I could. The corral and the horses are central to our business and life, so that is the role that I wanted to step into the most.

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

I enjoy cooking and learned how to cook from our long-time chef, Judy (she has been working at the ranch since my Grandparents bought it 50 years ago. It’s a little different as we can cater for to up to 100 guests, but it is always good, fresh, ranch food.

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

There are no downsides! My job is to keep people safe and make them happy. I get to share my knowledge of horses (we have approx 165 on our property), teach people to ride, and go out and enjoy the amazing desert scenery that surrounds the ranch.

6.  What is the name of your favourite horse? And if they were a human, who would he/she be and why?

Gilbert is my favorite horse. He is a grulla quarterhorse who had a rough start to life with illness. We saw him through it and I took him on to be my main trail horse. He can be tough on others in the herd but he’s great with people and we get along pretty well.

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

My horse, my family, my dog and my truck.

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8. What has been your most memorable ride?

I once took a ride where a guest fell into cactus. She had to remove her shirt to get a lot of it off her – I gave her mine to cover up. I think she was pleased!

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

I like to chill, watch a movie, drink a beer and hang with my dog.

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

Buckle up! In all seriousness, the best thing you can do is keep your head. People are there to have a great time, you are the captain of the ship, keep them safe. But… a lot of people want to learn and one of the best things we can do is share what we know – it really enhances the experience.

11.  Where do you go on holiday?

What is this “holiday” you speak of?!!

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Thank you David for some fantastic images and another amazing article. Olwen and the team look forward to seeing you at the Riding Holiday Show.

You can meet David from White Stallion 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.

40 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, Ranch holidays, Riding Holidays, The Riding Holiday Show, Travel advice | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Meet the Guides” at The Riding Holiday Show – Pedro Alarcão from Ecotura, Portugal

One of our new rides for 2016 being launched at The Riding Holiday Show is in the Peneda-Gerês National Park in the extreme north of Portugal. This is a beautiful yet wild landscape, home to the Iberian Wolf and a rare breed of horse called Garrano. The Wolf is not easily seen although you might see their footprint or hear their howl at night. The wild Garrano horses are much easier spotted and you frequently ride past herds of horses. Pedro Alarcão is the owner and riding guide on this exciting new holiday which we call Wolves and Wild Horses and you can meet Pedro, along  with his wife Anabela (who is also a guide) at the Riding Holiday Show.

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1.  How long have you been a riding guide?

I’ve been guiding for 10 years.

2.   Did you do any guiding before setting up at Ecotura? 

Both of my parents love horses so I started to ride when I was 3 or 4 years old. I learnt under two great teachers but like most of the young riders in Portugal I trained for the classical disciplines. For many years I did show jumping, with an olympic rider as a teacher, and later studied dressage. Then, in 2005,  when my wife Anabela and I decided to create the horse riding company I started to guide.

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

To be honest it was not a person that inspired me but my own dream to be close to horses and the nature. I always tried to organise my life in a such a way that every change that I made brought me closer to this dream. When I met my wife I discovered someone else with the same goal and so everything started to be possible. We were both born in Lisbon and now, 48 years later, we have a trail riding company in the north of Portugal inside Peneda Gerês National Park, the most beautiful and wild region in the country.

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

Before we had this company I was a wildlife photographer and filmmaker and my wife an environment journalist. We made books and wildlife documentaries so I imagine we would still be doing the same.

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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?

The great thing is to work in something that I love a lot. To discover great people from all over the world, learn with everybody, and ride every day. If you are good, guiding is not only a job. It is the way you live. If a person see guiding as a job I think he will not do it for long because sometimes it is very hard. When the riders are resting I’m preparing my horses. Every day there are other horses that need to be ridden or looked after.

6.   What is the name of your favourite horse? And if they were a human, who would he/she be and why?

All the animals that we have on our farm are part of our family. Almost all the horses where bred and taught by me. I love all of them and I know them very well. All of them are special because at some time of their life they do something that leaves a memory that will never go. For example: We bred a horse that we call Átomo. He is a big cross bred of a Lusitano and an Arabian horse. When he was born, during his first week he couldn’t stand properly and so many times each day I had to help him stand so that he could drink from his mother. At that time I promised him that I would be the only person to ride him. 10 years later this is still true and now he is a powerful horse who really gives meaning to the phrase “riding with the wind”.

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

I couldn’t live without my close family, my animals and the green of nature

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8.    What has been your most memorable ride?

I have many stories and many great rides but maybe the biggest experience that “brand” me for life was a few years ago when I was guiding a group of four riders in a place that I like to call the “Wolf Valley”. In all the mountain this is my special place. It is beautiful and full of good energy. Almost everytime that I go there I experience something special.

Along the valley there is a small trail with soft curves and small water ditches. It’s the perfect place for a canter or a fast gallop jumping the water. These four riders were all experienced riders and we were doing it in a fast gallop with me at the front. Suddenly my horse started to be agitated and trying to turn to the left. When I turn my head in that direction what I saw was indescribable. A beautiful wild stallion was running 20 meters to my left in full gallop and stayed with us until we decided to slow down and stop. I think that I can speak for everybody – it was the experience of a life time.

Portugal Nationalpark Peneda-Geres 9. bis 16.9.2012 Wildpferde-Tour auf den Spuren der "Garranos" (Veranstalter Perlenfänger/Sabine Bengtsson) Foto: Julia Rau Am Schinnergraben 57 55129 Mainz Tel.: 06131-507751 Mobil: 0171-9517199 Rüsselsheimer Volksbank BLZ 500 930 00 Kto.: 6514006 Es gelten ausschliesslich meine Allgemeinen Geschäftsbedingungen

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

Seated in my garden with a cold beer looking at the amazing mountain that I have in front of me.

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

Don’t work with horses that you don’t know. You need to be able to detect a different behavior of the horse in a few seconds; so when you start with a new group of horses just spend time looking at them. You are the boss but treat your horses like family. What you give is what you (and the riders that are with you) will get. Don’t work your horses too hard. They are not just meat and when they are tired they get grumpy which is not good for you or your guests.

Make sure you are physically fit yourself. On long riding days you need to always be the freshest rider. If you are tired you lose the capacity to judge and decide. When all the others are riding in a relaxed mode you should ride always in full attention to predict something that might happen. This will make you very tired.

Don’t look at this work “through rose tinted glasses”. The responsibility that you have with the riders in your group is huge. Learn how to read your new guests in the first few moments. The big secret of this profession is to make a perfect match between horse and rider.

Learn everything you can about your region. There is nothing worse than a guide that rides well but doesn’t know anything else. Be happy. Your energy will pass to the group. And finally, you should learn from all your guests. They are the link to the world and you are not the only one that knows something about horses.

11.   Where do you go on holiday?

We make short holidays several times a year. We love to hike in the mountain for several days and we love rock climbing so we try to go in different destinations where we can do these two things.

Portugal Nationalpark Peneda-Geres 9. bis 16.9.2012 Wildpferde-Tour auf den Spuren der "Garranos" (Veranstalter Perlenfänger/Sabine Bengtsson) Foto: Julia Rau Am Schinnergraben 57 55129 Mainz Tel.: 06131-507751 Mobil: 0171-9517199 Rüsselsheimer Volksbank BLZ 500 930 00 Kto.: 6514006 Es gelten ausschliesslich meine Allgemeinen Geschäftsbedingungen

Thank you Pedro for introducing yourself. We all look forward to learning more about the Wolves & Wild Horses holiday and meeting you 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, Lusitanos, Riding Garrano horses, Riding Holidays, Riding Holidays Portugal | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Win a Holiday to Estancia Los Potreros at The Riding Holiday Show

Come to the Riding Holiday Show on 12 December and enter a competition to win a riding holiday at the fabulous Estancia Los Potreros in Argentina. Sadly owners Kevin and Louisa Begg cannot join us at the event, but representing Los Potreros in their absence will be former guides Holly and Georgina.

Here, Kevin and Louisa tell us a little about life on the estancia.

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1. How long have you been at Los Potreros?

Kevin: This is my family home and so I have lived here all my life. We have been taking guests for 15 years this time round, although my grannie, Louie Begg, used to take home-stay guests between the late 1940´s and the 1960’s.

Louisa: I came here on holiday with In The Saddle 10 years ago and didn’t go home!

2. Where did you guide and/or ride before this?

Kevin: This is my first time guiding as such, but I have ridden all my life – it is an essential part of growing up on an estancia in Argentina as it is the only practical way to get around and work with cattle. As a young boy I remember my dad, Robert, who still lives on the estancia, making us get up early, go out and fetch the horses, groom them and saddle them up. In those days it felt a bit more like a chore than a pleasure!

Estancia Los Potreros Argentina by Astrid Harrison (8)

Louisa: I have ridden since I was a small girl – my parents gave me the choice of riding lessons or piano lessons which at 6 years old was a relatively easy choice. Through my teenage years I spent every spare moment mucking out stables and cleaning tack in return for riding, and this led to me working for a couple of years in the racing world. Life took me in a different direction after that (although I always kept riding), coincidentally into the hospitality industry, which has stood me in very good stead in the ten years that I have been here. Kevin always says that he checked my CV before asking me to marry him!

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

Kevin: Actually, it was my brother Robin who originally had the idea of re-starting the estancia as a riding holiday business. I had been working in Spain but was posted back to Argentina with my work and when they decided to close their offices in Buenos Aires I decided to stay – I felt I had come home. Robin asked me to come up to the estancia to help out with a few rides and 12 years on I’m still here. Now Robin has gone on to other things and Lou and I have been running the guest and cattle business for over 10 years now.

Louisa: I had always dreamed that one day I would have some form of job that would base me mainly outdoors, but really again I blame In The Saddle! I had a week off between 2 jobs, had been on an amazing riding holiday with them in Chile some years before and they suggested Los Potreros. I came here for a week and mentioned to Kevin that if he ever wanted a manager for the guest/guiding business I would be interested; it combined my service industry experience with my passion for animals and riding. I never imagined my dream would become a reality.

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4. If you hadn’t stayed at Los Potreros, what was your Plan B?

Kevin: I had always thought that one day I would come back to the family farm. Aside from the riding holiday business, we have an extremely successful cattle business, each year winning prizes at auction for highest price and best animals. I am really keen to develop the herd further, based on the amazing foundation work that my father and grandmother did.

Louisa: I had worked in the service industry all my life in one form or another, and before I came to Los Potreros I had set my sights on another 5 years of a ‘proper’ job, before looking to buy a little B&B business possibly in Devon or Wales, with the idea that I would be able to spend more time riding and being outdoors. Nowadays, if I couldn’t guide I think Kev is resigned to the fact that I would turn the estancia into a rescue home for horses/dogs/cats and probably a few other animals besides. We have already collected a few of each along the way.

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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?

Kevin: For me it is such a privilege to have found a job that allows me to live on my family estancia. One of my passions is sharing with guests the history of my family and the area, the traditions and culture of the gaucho and some of the stories of Argentina. I also love taking guests out to visit the cattle on horseback as I am very proud of the herd. Although it is wonderful having so many horses, cattle and other animals unfortunately they don’t know when it is your day off, and so sometimes the main downside is that it really is a 24/7 job.

Louisa: There is just nothing better than being able to ride out in our beautiful scenery on the back of one of our lovely horses every day. I love a good gallop as much as the next person, but I particularly enjoy helping people build their confidence on horseback, or introducing people to riding or polo who never thought they could do it. This year we had a couple in their 70’s who had never ridden in their lives, and in their first ride I had them cantering over the hills as I can put my trust completely in the horses. In terms of downsides, I am a person who wears their emotions on their sleeve, and as a riding guide you can never have a ‘bad’ day. This is really hard, especially if for example one of the animals is poorly and you have to carry on as though nothing has happened.

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6.  What is the name of your favourite horse? And if they were a human, who would he/she be and why?

Kevin: I enjoy riding all of our horses but I have a special fondness for a homebred Peruvian Paso called Negro 11. He is in his early 20’s now so there is nothing he hasn’t seen or done. He has a very noble air about him, and carries himself beautifully, so he would probably be some sort of conqueror or hero – maybe Alexander the Great?

Louisa: I can honestly say that out of our 140 horses I don’t have a favourite – they are all wonderful and brilliant in their own way. I do however often chat with the back-up guides about if ‘this horse was a human what would they be’ and we have a supermodel, everyone’s favourite uncle, an investment banker, a princess, some Barbie girls and a ‘boy at school that all the girls wanted to be with and all the boys were jealous of’ to name but a few!

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

Kevin: Malbec and beef – I am Argentine after all!

Louisa: My border collies (currently I have 6) and horses in the garden. Both are guaranteed to bring a smile to my face every day.

8. What has been your most memorable ride?

Kevin: A few years ago I took a long distance trail ride with 5 ladies of ‘a certain age’. We stopped at some beautiful pools for lunch and a swim, and the ladies decided to strip off completely and recreate a ‘calendar girls’ type photo. Not something I will forget in a hurry – nor will the gaucho!

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Louisa: So many, so very hard to pick one out, but possibly the first time I rode out on my little Peruvian Paso mare, Aurora. There is just nothing like a home-bred horse – following the foal through his or her early years, and training, and probably a few dramas and heartaches in between, until they are ‘ride ready’. She has a very exaggerated front leg action and is as pretty as a picture, so being honest I probably was enjoying the chance to show off a bit!

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

Kevin: A glass of Malbec – did I mention I am Argentine?

Louisa: My favourite de-stresser would be either spending time with the foals, or more recently we bought a pair of Nigerian pygmy goats. They are just the cutest things, incredibly cheeky, and very funny. Sometimes we take a glass of wine down and sit with them – guaranteed to make you laugh.

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

Kevin: Work hard at whatever you do – it will stand you in good stead for a guiding job. The riding itself is wonderful, but never forget there is a lot of hard work that goes in before the ride, after the ride and behind the scenes, and so developing a good work ethic is vital.

Louisa: Coming from a background in the hospitality industry I would definitely remind people that guiding is a service business, so any experience they can gain in terms of working with people will be time valuably spent. Sometimes you may have to manage people in difficult situations, handle group dynamics, be sensitive to individual guests needs or just be able to chat along happily on the ride. In terms of riding and horses, get as much experience of different horses, environments, riding styles as you can. Your dream may be to ride dressage in Portugal, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider a season as a polo groom. Never stop learning and soak up information from as many different people as possible. And definitely keep an open mind – there is never just one way of doing something and you, your horses and your guests will ultimately benefit the more open your mindset is.

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11. Where do you go on holiday?

Kevin: We have one month off a year but have no fixed destination. In recent years we have been to Brazil, Spain, Mexico and the United States. I do like to spend at least part of our holidays somewhere where we get great service – it is very nice to be looked after, when you spend 11 months of the year looking after other people.

Louisa: I always go back to the UK once a year to visit family and friends, but other than that we tend to go somewhere different every year. We do like to be active so often do some driving and of course I always like to ride, although Kevin sometimes takes some persuading. We have ridden with In The Saddle guides Shane and Laura at Horizon in South Africa, John Sobey at Macatoo in Botswana and Paulo in Brazil. This year we are hoping to visit Eddy in Peru to try out some of his fabulous Peruvian Pasos.

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Many thanks to Kevin and Louisa for sharing an insight into life at Los Potreros.

You can meet former Los Potreros guides Holly and Georgina 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, Riding Holidays, Riding in Argentina, The Riding Holiday Show, Travel advice, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

The Riding Holiday Show on 12 December is sure to be an event to remember, with riding guides and owners from all over the world. This article is written by Christina de Laval, owner of Quinta da Terca in the Azores.

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

14 years.

2. Where did you guide before this?

In my younger years I was a guide on tourist coaches going all over Europe with Swedish tourists. As a riding guide I have also worked in Stockholm and the middle part of Sweden.

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

Many years ago I went on a riding trip to Poland and the guide for the weekend was very knowledgeable about almost everything and also lots of fun, so this episode helped to inspire me to become a guide.

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

No plan B.

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?

It is the ideal job – meeting people from all corners of the world with the same interests – horses and nature. Showing the beauty of Sao Miguel from horseback. The downside is sometimes you want to teach guests more during their stay and a week passes very fast.

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

Nikita, who if she were human would be a top model. She has a perfect body, great movements, is very feminine and has a lot of confidence.

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

A mobile phone.

8. What has been your most memorable ride?

I was riding on the south crater rim of Sete Cidades with a German princess (74 years old) enjoying the spectacular view and taking lots of pictures. When I turn around to take another photo of my guest I see a loose bull standing in the middle of the road about 50 metres from us. My heart stopped! I calmly ask my guest to stop her horse and please be so kind and hold the reins of my horse so I could get the cattle away from the road. With the help of a long bamboo stick and some heifers in pasture close by, I managed to get Mr. Bull interested in the heifers and could close him in on the field with the “girls”!! The rest of the ride went perfect without any more exciting incidents.

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

A shower and a good book.

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

You need to be a good rider who loves the outdoors, have an outgoing personality, be adaptable, flexible and reliable, have leadership skills, be energetic, cooperative and have interpersonal skills.

11.   Where do you go on holiday?

I go to Sweden to meet up with my family.

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

You can meet 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, The Riding Holiday Show, Travel advice, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Meet the Guides” at The Riding Holiday Show – Georges Malleroni from Alcainça

The Riding Holiday Show on 12 December will be full to the brim with talented instructors and riding guides from around the world. Here, we have an article by Georges Malleroni, the inspirational technical director at Alcainça in Portugal.

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1. How long has Alcainça been taking riding holiday guests? How did it all begin?     

I started to work with António Duarte, owner of the Alcainça Classical Dressage training barn in 1982. In 1985 we began to work with Silva Freich, owner of Equitours in Switzerland. A dressage rider herself, she was looking for good well-trained Lusitano horses to offer riding holidays to her riders. Since then we have been hosting more riders every year from all over the world who want to discover our wonderful Lusitano schoolmasters.

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2. What has been your biggest achievement to date?

To have trained Portuguese riders who have become excellent professionals (a rider from the Portuguese School of Equestrian Art and World Champions in working equitation). Also to have trained  many horses to High School in order to use them in our program. Some of these school masters once sold, have had honorable performances in competitions worldwide.

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

It was when I saw the black and white pictures of Master Nuno Oliveira in his book ‘Reflection sur l’art equestre’ that I thought to myself, “this is it; this is where I need to go!”. And when I finally started working with Master Nuno Oliveira in Portugal, it was a dream come true.

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4. If you hadn’t become involved in teaching classical dressage, what was your Plan B?

To become a airplane pilot.

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?   

My job is a joy everyday of my life. Downsides: one life is not enough.

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6. What is the name of your favourite horse?

I cannot name one favourite horse, but many of them have been my best friends during our life together.

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

I cannot live without riding and I cannot teach without riding.

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8. What has been your most memorable ride, lesson or time at Alcainça ?

Often the perfect harmony with the horses I have been training during some of the lessons is as rewarding as riding; the joy of my students when succeeding to make them achieve that harmony during the lesson.

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9. How do you relax after a day teaching guests?

Being with my family, reading, being aware of world events  and watching the soccer games of my favourite team, Sporting Club of Lisbon.

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

Do you really love it? Because it has to become your number one priority in life as Master Nuno Oliveira.

11. Where do you like to go on holiday?

On the Atlantic Coast.

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

You can meet Georges from Alcainça 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, Lusitanos, 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 – Susan Wirth from Turkey

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 Susan from Akhal-Teke Horse Center in Turkey.

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1. How long have you been guiding in Turkey?

6 years

2. Where did you guide and ride before this?

I grew up in southern Africa where I learned how to ride on retired race horses and polo ponies. We had a lot of wild places at our disposal and as children we would spend all our spare time exploring the bushveldt on horse-back. Even though I later bought a horse in the US and decided I needed to learn how to ride ‘properly’ I was always happiest thinking about where I could actually go on a horse.

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

I had gotten away from riding as I was living in New York city and working in the publishing field. Occasionally in a fit of nostalgia, I would rent a horse and ride in Central Park but the ‘fire cracker’ went off again when I took a 6 month sabbatical and did my first multi-day trek with David and Robyn Foot on the Nyika Plateau in Malawi.

After that I was hooked and started to ride all over the world from India to all over South America, Europe and Africa until I eventually found my way to Turkey and met Ercihan Dilari, the owner of the riding outfit. We became firm friends and as we rode, talked of riding Akhal Teke horses from Turkmenistan to Turkey. It was a crazy dream but I realized that we were both a bit obsessed with long distance horse travel. We stayed friends over the years and I would return to ride and got to know his family and the outfit quite well. It was however in 2009 when we rode the Evliya Celebi Way that we really came together as a couple and I started helping him with the rides. It has been an incredible journey.

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

I have always been involved in photo journalism and photography in general so I also work as a photo editor for a news magazine when I am not guiding. It is  fun being engaged in different activities, specially in the off-season.

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 think it is one of the most wonderful jobs, sharing one’s environment on horseback. I love the fact that I can meet people from all over the world  and that many of these contacts turn into friendships. I also love the bonds that are formed with our horses and with our staff as we embark on a journey together with our guests. It is an extraordinary and exhilarating experience and you don’t want to be doing anything else. The only real downside is that I can’t control the weather!

Riders along the Evliya Celebi Route in Turkey

6. What is the name of your favourite horse? And if they were a human, who would he/she be and why?

My favorite horse is Juno, a small, unassuming Arabian/Anatolian mare who was a gift from Ercihan. We believe that she might have started life as a wild horse, living with a herd at the base of Mt. Erciyes, one of the volcanoes responsible for the Cappadocian landscape. Juno has a huge heart and has generously carried me over this often challenging landscape for several years now. A clever, tough and resourceful mountain horse. She is like that  ‘little engine that could…”.

Despite her daintiness and to the dismay of others, she has competed with me very successfully in endurance competitions and last year, she helped me fulfill my dream of riding 1,000 km from Cappadocia to Istanbul. I think that travelling with your horse over great distances creates the most extraordinary of bonds. You are adventuring together.

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

I can’t unfortunately live without my cell phone anymore. There are so many things to organize and ‘double-check’ as you go. It is annoying but necessary if you want a smooth
operation.

8. What has been your most memorable ride?

There are of course so many stories but one memorable guest was an ‘Iron Woman’ finalist from America. She signed up for a camping trip ride and we had long days in the saddle. Every morning at dawn, before we had even stuck our noses out of our tents she was just returning from a 10km run. We would then ride about 35km and then after untacking our horses after an exhausting day, collapse with a cold beer. This lady would not be seen because she would head back to her tent to get into her exercise gear and proceed to scale the next highest mountain. We were in awe.

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

I like nothing more than going to the Turkish Baths in Ürgüp, one of the villages in the area. I would be happy to go every night and I always take guests with me. After a cleaning and a massage you feel like new. It is a fun way of connecting with guests away from the horses and the dinner table.

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

Make sure that as you train, that you also develop your interests beside the riding, and that you always remain curious and enjoy engaging with people. One of the finest young guides I met once was a young man who could share so much about the history and culture of his country. It was enthralling. Be fascinated yourself and this will make the whole experience so much more meaningful for you and for your guests.  Also don’t be frightened about living in remote places and be content living a disciplined and simple life. It is not for the faint-hearted.

11. Where do you go on holiday?

I am really addicted to travelling on horseback so I always find an interesting new places to ride in, usually very much off the beaten-track. As a guide I also find it really helpful to see how other outfits manage their treks and also see things from a guest’s perspective.  I hope that it has made me more sensitive to the needs and concerns of our guests.

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Thank you Susan 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 Susan from Turkey 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 Holidays, The Riding Holiday Show, Travel advice, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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