In this blog post In The Saddle‘s Claire Douglas tells us about her exciting visit to Spain to take part in the Pirate Trail.
“I was lucky enough to experience the Pirate Trail in Catalonia at the start of November. We covered 15km–30km each day across most types of terrain. I could not believe how tough and sure-footed these horses were. I was matched with Pocholo, which means pretty or beautiful in Spanish, and he was a stunner. I was told he was full of personality and very forward going, which I found out to be the case. He was also incredibly photogenic and posed at every moment for a photo.
The horses really enjoy their work, and with 60 to choose from, there is a horse to suit everyone from the steady, reliable ones to the more forward going. They are a mixture of Andalusian, Spanish horses and crossbreeds.
On these trails, you are responsible for brushing and tacking up your horse, although there is help on hand if you need it. The process of getting your horse ready meant that you spent quality time with them, not just in the saddle but on the ground as well. My new German friends were smart enough to pack magic brushes which would have saved me a lot of time as my horse loved to roll and frequently changed colour from his usual grey to brown.
The lack of phone reception and Wi-Fi at most locations meant it felt like a digital detox. No phones appeared at the dinner table, just long chats with lots of laughter. The group was mostly German along with myself and another rider from the UK. Everyone conversed in English, luckily for me. They did appreciate my one German phrase: ‘Das Leben ist keine Ponyhof’ – which translates as “life is not a pony farm”. Most of the group were returning guests, one was doing the Pirate Trail for the second time, having previously done the Mediterranean Trail as well. The other two group members had met during the the toughest trail of all, the Andorra Trail earlier in the year. The Andorra Trail is an epic 11 riding day expedition, covering 350km, from the Mediterranean coast to Pyrenean Mountains traversing three countries. They never stopped raving about how amazing it was – one for the adventurists amongst us.
I was wondering if I would be fit enough for this trail as it would be tough with long hours in the saddle (up to seven hours on one day) with some walking on foot, steep sections downhill. However the long lunches and daily siestas meant the riding was broken up and manageable.
One of my main highlights of the ride was an exhilarating 6km beach gallop. We lucked out with the weather, sunshine and very little wind. We were briefed to keep our horses on a very narrow channel on the damp, firm stand, deeper shelves to the sea or the very soft sand on the right. We had to follow Rudi, our guide and owner of Panorama Trails, on his lead horse Tornardo exactly. My horse was willing and keen to stick to this path, easily navigating the twists and turns of the tide. I got completely soaked from the horse in front but it was such fun, I couldn’t have cared less.
After the beach ride, we entered a forest and started to climb again until we reached these spectacular cliffs and where we had our wonderful picnic over the sea. One of our fellow riders was an accomplished musician and took out her recorder and serenaded us with Vivaldi during our siesta. It was a magical time.
Saying goodbye to my horse after 5 days of riding was tough. Pocholo never tired or went wrong the whole time. Therefore, it was a bit emotional un-tacking them for the last time and before we knew it, they were led away to the lorry.
If you want to experience an adventurous ride, a different world is waiting for you, not too far away.”
Many thanks to Claire for telling us about her visit….we are glad you enjoyed Catalonia and look forward to hearing about more of your adventures!
If you’d like to learn more about our rides in Catalonia then please call us on 01299 272 997 or email Claire@inthesaddle.com