Ranch holidays

Looking back at my Cowgirl Adventure

In this edition of ggjourneys, In The Saddle’s Becky Clarke tells of her stay at Hidden Hollow Hideaway in June 2016.

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It’s been a while now since I visited Montana and still most days I find myself day-dreaming of the wide open spaces, beautiful horses and the immense sense of freedom that comes with having the wind fly through your hair!

I have been to a fair few places in my life and yet whenever anyone asks me about my favourite, my mind skips back to the days I spent chasing calves and watching the sun rise over the Rockies.

When I first arrived at Hidden Hollow Hideaway Ranch, I was beyond excited to be joining one of their  cattle drives! My childhood summers as far back as I can remember would consist of my cousins, my sister and I riding off from the farm, across the fields in search of some cattle to round-up (much to my grandfather’s annoyance)!

Hidden Hollow Hideaway is owned and run by the Flynn family whose roots can be traced back to the 1860s when Kelly’s ancestors followed the gold rush to Diamond City. Kelly, Jill and Siobhan Flynn were at the ranch whilst I was there and after welcoming the group and showing us to our rooms, it was time to ride.

First though, we got to meet our steeds and it gives me great pleasure to introduce to you the beautiful ‘Cub’ – and what an absolute gentleman he was too.

As it happened our first full day of the week was the cattle drive itself. I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting, but it was everything I hoped it would be!

To start with we had to scour a huge pasture for a couple of hundred head of cattle! This was a slow and careful process, making sure to get all of the calves and not split them from their mothers. Getting the bulls to move sometimes also proved difficult……

The bulls were sometimes more interested in each other than moving on.

After we had brought the whole herd together and crossed the river, we proceeded to drive the cattle up towards the mountains.

Kelly explained to us all that it was really important to keep the calves up in the middle of the herd. This was because once the herd is moving and they separate from their mothers, they try to go back to where they last fed. In this case it would be several miles back down the mountain and so we all worked hard driving the herd from the back and sides.

Once we had navigated up through forest paths, down ditches and over streams, it was time for what Kelly called the ‘stampede’! I’ll admit I wasn’t quite sure what to expect…….

About a mile along from where we were, the track became narrow and twisted downhill through a section of forest. This is where the cattle would start to run due to the downhill momentum. At the bottom they needed to be turned 90° right so that they didn’t head straight into a deep gully….. and guess who got taken along with Kelly…. yep it was me!

I’ll be honest – it was exhilarating! We sped around and ahead of the cattle before dropping down and through the forest. Before we’d even gotten to the bottom of the track, we could hear the herd picking up the pace, the sound of their hooves echoing through the trees.

I’m glad I didn’t try to take any pictures during the stampede but here is a nice one at the bottom of the hill once the herd had settled again. My angel Cub stood like a rock the entire time.

Although it was a hard 7 hours in the saddle, it was the cattle drive I have always dreamed of! And the view from the top was just …..WOW…..

Becky on the beautiful Cub

The riding during the rest of the week was an array of trails across the beautiful countryside. Siobhan told us stories as we rode which made the hours slip by far too quickly for my liking! In the afternoons when we weren’t riding, there was the chance for gold panning, rifle shooting or even fishing if we didn’t want to relax.

Hidden Hollow Hideaway is a working ranch and so every week is different depending on what needs to be done. However something that always needs doing is changing the irrigation pipes.

One morning I volunteered to meet Kelly at 5:30 and help him. It was great to hear all about how he set up the pipes to run water uphill and how each of the different systems work. It really put into perspective how much work is done behind the scenes – and also helped work up an appetite for breakfast!

Working at sunrise on the irrigation pipes.

Jill’s cooking throughout the week was another highlight for me. The family style, help yourself approach worked really well and we would all sit around the table together each meal time. There was a different desert each evening which was brilliant but I was slightly worried I wouldn’t fit back into my jeans by the time I left!

The main lodge at Hidden Hollow Hideaway

Each evening there was the option to go with Kelly on a wildlife drive. I remember finding these drives really interesting and learned to identify several different dear types as well as being lucky enough to see mountain goats!

There is no wi-fi at the ranch which is really nice. It allows you to just get away from everything and really get immersed into rural Montana life. With the big belt mountains behind you and the brilliant horses you get to ride, you can just forget about everything else and enjoy your surroundings.

If I had the opportunity,  I’d be back out there in a heartbeat.

And the last picture has to be of Cub.

Categories: Equestrian Travel, horse riding, Horses & riding, in the saddle, in the saddle, Ranch holidays, Riding Holidays, Riding in Montana | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“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

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 – 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 – Paulo Junqueira from Ride Brazil

The Riding Holiday Show on 12 December 2015 is all about “Meeting the Guides” – in fact that’s what we called the event when we first ran it in 2007. It’s a chance to learn about wonderful riding holidays all over the world, directly from the people who will be guiding you day by day. As well as an opportunity to renew friendships and chat about past experiences.

We thought it would be interesting to run a series of profiles of some of the people who will be at the Riding Holiday Show and here is another popular guide –  Paulo Junqueira from Ride Brazil.
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1.    How long have you been guiding on the Bahia Beach and Canyons and Waterfalls rides?

8 years.

2.    Where did you guide before this?

I had not guided prior the starting with Ride Brazil, although I did quite a lot of solo riding throughout Brazil in search of exciting trails.

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

I always wanted to live and work with horses and this opportunity came about when I found out that Brazil has the third largest population of horses in the world. It also has excellent horses and a huge variety of trails to explore. Brazil wasn’t yet a destination for international riders as there were not many quality rides available. I did some research into how rides were run in Africa, Spain and Argentina to learn all that was involved in the responsibility of guiding people on a ride.

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

Living in the countryside with my horses gives me a great opportunity to write, which I love doing. I would love to study and work in horses ethology and also write about my own experiences.

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 what I do because I can turn someone’s holiday into an unforgettable experience; an experience of a lifetime. The recognition I receive at the end of the ride is something that is priceless. I wouldn’t say there is a downside to guiding rides in such beautiful places, along with people who love horses; it is always a great pleasure. Although it is also a great responsibility, and sometimes (luckily very seldom) we have people who don’t understand that we are dealing with an animal and we have to be flexible.

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

Enduro do Haren was a favourite of mine. He was a wonderful stallion who sadly died a few years ago. Now I have favourites on both of the rides I guide. In Bahia it is Shakira and in the Canyons area it is Ornero. At home my favourite horse is my palomino called Elmo.

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

I could not live without nature. City life is not for me anymore. When I am guiding it is essential that I have a brave horse who is always ready.Canyons ride (3)

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

I can say that I am always lucky to have good groups. pantanal

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

I like talking with guests in the evening about how the day’s ride has gone. I also enjoy sharing my experiences gained from riding around the world.

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

I met some people who were interested in guiding as they saw it as an adventure and an opportunity to travelling. First of all, you need to love horses and great determination. First apply as trainee in a good destination with a reputable company. Then follows the hard work!

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11.    Where do you go on holiday?

I like to discover new places with new cultures while on horseback.

Thank you Paulo for the fantastic images and another interesting article.

You can meet Paulo from Ride Brazil 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, Horses & riding, in the saddle, Ranch holidays, Ride reviews, Riding expeditions, riding holiday brazil, Riding Holidays, Riding safaris, The Riding Holiday Show, Travel advice, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Meet the Guides” at The Riding Holiday Show – Annemee van Aubel from Cerfcheval, France

The Riding Holiday Show on 12 December 2015 is all about “Meeting the Guides” – in fact that’s what we called the event when we first ran it in 2007. It’s a chance to learn all about wonderful riding holidays all over the world, directly from the people who will be guiding you day by day. As well as an opportunity to renew friendships and chat about past experiences.

We thought it would be interesting to run a series of profiles of some of the people who will be at the Riding Holiday Show and here is another popular guide – Annemee van Aubel from Cerfcheval, France.    IMG_9312

1.    How long have you been guiding at Cerfcheval?

I started guiding here in 2001.

2.    Where did you guide before this?

I am Dutch but worked for a while in France doing different things to get some experience and to learn.

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

I love travelling on horseback and also showing people around. This is a very good way to really get to know a country and visit places that you would not otherwise see.

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

I never made a plan B, but I was a sailing instructor in the past. I really enjoyed this time in my life, but I prefer the contact with the horses and my dogs that my current role provides.

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 to be with my horses and to work outside, discovering new landscapes and making new friends. The difficult sides of the job are being responsible for everybody and staying positive even when the weather is bad and things are not going as you would like them to.

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6.    Can you tell us about your favourite horse?

I don’t have one favourite – I have three! I love my mule Sascha, my half Arab Oslo and my lead horse Imperial who had a difficult history before he came to Cerfcheval.

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

My pocket knife and my dogs.

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

It is difficult to choose, but one of the most memorable was a 650km ride I undertook with my son from Cerfcheval to Lyon. Another memorable ride was with a guest who wanted to swim every day on the Monts de Blond ride. It was October and rather fresh, but I managed to find some mountain lakes for him. He would swim out quite far and I was left on the bank wondering if I’d have to jump into the really cold water to help him if he got into difficulty!

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

Apéro, (as we say in France), followed by a good meal with a glass of wine with fellow riders.

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

It is a great job. Don’t count your hours and find yourself some good horses, as they are your best friends and need to take people around safely.

11.    Where do you go on holiday?

Often in the Pays Basque with my dogs. I don’t take holidays very often. Otherwise I just take my horse, my mule and my dogs and discover some new parts of France.

Thank you Annemee for sending some lovely images and another interesting article.

You can meet Annemee from Cerfcheval, France 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 france, Horses & riding, in the saddle, Ranch holidays, Ride reviews, Riding expeditions, Riding Holidays, Riding in France, Riding safaris, The Riding Holiday Show, Travel advice, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Meet the Guides” at The Riding Holiday Show – Duncan Over from Kujwana, Botswana

The Riding Holiday Show on 12 December 2015 is all about “Meeting the Guides” – in fact that’s what we called the event when we first ran it in 2007. It’s a chance to learn all about wonderful riding holidays all over the world, directly from the people who will be guiding you day by day. As well as an opportunity to renew friendships and chat about past experiences.

We thought it would be interesting to run a series of profiles of some of the people who will be at the Riding Holiday Show and here is another of our guides – Duncan Over from Kujwana in Botswana.

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1.       How long have you been guiding at Kujwana?

I have been the camp manager at Kujwana for a year after volunteering here for a month previously.

2.       Where did you guide before this?

This is my first job in Africa. Before coming here I was an officer in the British Army. Having spent time in Kenya training I had already caught the African bug. I came to Kujwana as a guest three years ago and fell in love with the camp, the horses and the delta. From then on I had only one job in mind and last year it became a reality.

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

I was inspired by a very close friend of mine who worked out here for many years. Whilst I was in the Army he would send me constant insights into life in the Delta and I promised him I would at least visit to see it for myself. After finally finding the time to visit him and meeting Barney and PJ (the owners of Kujwana), as well as our lead guide Rodgers I was inspired by their knowledge of the area and the animals and wanted to learn more about it for myself. A year after visiting as a guest I returned as a volunteer and was further amazed by the intricacies of the area and the job. I wanted to learn more about the animals, the area and how to run a camp in the middle of the bush and luckily in PJ and Barney, I had two of the most experienced people in the business to teach me. From then on I was hooked and every day I continue to be amazed and further inspired by my surroundings.

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

If I hadn’t moved out here I would still be in the Army. I was still enjoying my job at the time of leaving and only left due to an insatiable urge to get back to Africa. I was very fortunate that the timing was right and a space opened up for me in the company. I haven’t looked back since!

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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 are so many things I love about this job. I love the fact that I am out on horse back almost every day and in such an incredible setting. Every morning I get up and look forward to the day ahead, knowing that it will be different from the last. I’m not sure I will ever find riding at home in Scotland as exciting again without the constant presence of antelope, giraffe and elephants. Not to mention the burst of excitement when one spots a lion, leopard or honey badger!

I also thoroughly enjoy the interaction I have with the guests. I have learnt more about the world and its cultures from sitting around a camp fire with the huge variety of guests we are lucky enough to have then I ever did travelling with the Army.

I can honestly say that there are very few downsides to my job. I suppose the distance from home and limited communications with family and friends would be the biggest. I work incredibly hard and for very long hours, but after a career in the Army I considered this the norm so it really doesn’t bother me. I don’t think there are many jobs in the world that you can truly believe are perfectly suited for you. I am however fortunate enough to have found one of them.

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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?

My favourite horse is called Black Mamba. A Kalahari farm horse, he arrived at Kujwana in 2011. One of six wild horses backed out of the Kalahari desert, he gained his name from the hissing noise he made at anyone who approached him when he first arrived. An amazingly brave and caring horse, Mamba and I have had some great adventures together.

Who do I think he would be if he was human? That’s a difficult question! His best friend in the yard is a horse called Scorpion – another of the Kalahari ponies – they make a great pair and they often remind me of Dennis the Menace and his pet dog Gnasher as they charge around the yard causing the chaos. They are both incredibly brave horses but are full of mischief and take every opportunity to remind you who is boss! Not quite a human but probably as close as I can get! Mamba is a fantastic horse with a strong character and he is always my first choice.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA7.       What can you not live without (when guiding or just generally)?

I want for very little out here and I am used to living without many of life’s little luxuries, such as tv! As I learn more about the Delta and its many inhabitants I think the most valuable thing (actually a person) to me is Rodgers our lead guide. Having worked here for 25 years his knowledge base is second to none. The most patient and laid back man I have ever met he has been, and still is, teaching me all there is to know about reading animal behaviour, tracking and surviving in the bush. An incredible individual whose passion for the Delta is second to none. I think my time out here to date would have been very different without his guidance and teaching.

8.       What has been your most memorable ride?

There have been so many memorable rides for so many reasons. It’s always incredible to get your first sighting of a rhino, leopard, lion or wild dog. I often get more excited than the guests! For me though I think a ride that I will never forget was in July this year when we rode with a pack of wild dog as they prepared to hunt. My favourite animals in the Delta, it was incredible to see them prepare and then spread out in prefect formation to pursue a Tsessebe. We watched from a distance as they surrounded their prey and eventually made the kill. A very successful pack I have followed their progress closely over the past few months. They now have 5 new puppies and I take such pleasure in seeing them healthy and thriving.

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

I have a beautiful veranda that looks onto the river running past the camp. After a long day’s ride I always take some time to myself to sit and watch the Pied Kingfishers diving and reflect on the day. This is normally aided by a cold beer of course!

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

My advice would be to get out there and give it a go as a volunteer first. This gives you a great insight into the company, living in the environment and allows the outfitters to see you. After this you can build on the skills that you have seen are required and work towards applying for a permanent job. This type of work is not suited to everyone and it takes a lot of time and money to get permits to work abroad. Volunteering allows you to confirm that it is the job you imagined it to be, and trust me, you will know very quickly. Be prepared; you must have a skill set suited to the job and be willing to put in some seriously hard work.

11.   Where do you go on holiday?

I have so much of Africa still to see that on my time off I normally stay within the continent and travel to new places. I do love to go home to Scotland however and enjoy trips in to the Scottish highlands.

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Thank you Duncan for your wonderful images and a wonderful insight into your life in the Delta.

You can meet Duncan from Kujwana 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 france, Horses & riding, in the saddle, Ranch holidays, Ride reviews, riding botswana, Riding expeditions, Riding Holidays, riding holidays africa, riding kujwana, Riding safaris, The Riding Holiday Show, Travel advice, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Meet the Guides” at The Riding Holiday Show – Louis Geyer from Cape Winelands, South Africa.

The Riding Holiday Show on 12 December 2015 is all about “Meeting the Guides” – in fact that’s what we called the event when we first ran it in 2007. It’s a chance to learn about wonderful riding holidays all over the world, directly from the people who will be guiding you day by day. As well as an opportunity to renew friendships and chat about past experiences.

We thought it would be interesting to run a series of profiles of some of the people who will be at the Riding Holiday Show and here is another popular guide, Louis Geyer from Cape Winelands, South Africa

.A cowboy on his horse

  1. How long have you been guiding at Cape Winelands?

Since it was established in 2008.

  1. Where did you guide before this?

I was guiding at Horizon here in South Africa.

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

It was a life choice and meeting people like Carmen Cowley and Shane Dowinton made it easier.

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

I never needed a plan B!

  1. 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 spending the time with people sharing a common love. The down side is the lack of time to get to know the people better, from whose lives you touch.

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

I can honestly say I don’t have one particular favourite riding horse. However my up and coming Shire cross stallion called Charleston is the love of my life as I had him from birth!

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

My own saddle that has come with me for 16 years already.

  1. What has been your most memorable ride?

Seeing an English lady in her 70’s transform into a 16 year old girl on the gallops across the plains! An inspiration.

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

A good old South African Braai with friends is the best way to relax after a busy day.

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

Get some formal and recognised equestrian qualifications, ride as many horses as you can (especially the difficult ones), learn to accept that administration is part of working with horses and travel a lot. The people you will meet have been all over the world and you need to be able to hold a conversation with them outside of horses.

  1. Where do you go on holiday?

Every year I do a ten day safari in the Kruger away from horses spending time with my family.

Thank you Louis for giving us an insight into your life as a riding guide.

You can meet Louis from Cape Winelands 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, Horses & riding, in the saddle, Ranch holidays, Ride reviews, Riding expeditions, Riding Holidays, Riding safaris, riding south africa, The Riding Holiday Show, Travel advice, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Meet the Guides” at The Riding Holiday Show – Jenny Bawtree from Rendola, Italy

The Riding Holiday Show on 12 December 2015 is all about “Meeting the Guides” – in fact that’s what we called the event when we first ran it in 2007. It’s a chance to learn all about wonderful riding holidays all over the world, directly from the people who will be guiding you day by day. As well as an opportunity to renew friendships and chat about past experiences.

We thought it would be interesting to run a series of profiles of some of the people who will be at the Riding Holiday Show and here is another legendary guide – Jenny Bawtree from Rendola in Italy.

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  1. How long have you been guiding at Rendola?

I have been guiding at Rendola for over forty years.

  1. Where did you guide before this?

Previously I had been employed as a guide by a Swiss company in the Abruzzi Mountains east of Rome called “Rentahorse”. Not only was this company rather elitist, but it also had too many horses, too many employees and too few clients. It was not surprising, then, that it went bankrupt soon afterwards.galloping!

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

I must be grateful to “Rentahorse”, as it gave me the idea to create a riding centre that was completely different: with the aim of bringing the love of horses and riding to people from all walks of life.

children6 If you hadn’t become a riding guide, what was your Plan B?

When I first came to Italy I was a teacher of English at the British Institute in Florence and later obtained a post as reader at Florence University. However, I am a countrywoman at heart and wanted to pursue a career that would permit me to live in the countryside. Opening a riding centre 30 miles south of Florence enabled me to unite my love of the Tuscan countryside with my love of horses. I have never abandoned teaching and still hold classes for children during the summer months. I also have a few advanced pupils whom I enjoy teaching very much.

  1.  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 the Tuscan countryside and really enjoy showing it to my guests, naturally on horseback. We have riders from all parts of the world and through my work I manage to meet a lot of interesting people. My riders are, in my opinion, the cream of every country: they ride not because it’s a fashionable thing to do, not because they want to show off their smart clothes, but because they love horses, good company and the countryside. The downside? There isn’t one for me! Of course, it involves a lot of work and long hours, but I am a happy workaholic anyway so this is not a problem.

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

My favourite horse is Silver, a grey Arab gelding. You could compare him to Gregory Peck, as he is good-looking and a perfect gentleman.

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

What could I not live without? Well, obviously riding in the Tuscan countryside with its infinite variety. But I am also passionately interested in medieval Tuscan art and architecture and enjoy sharing my knowledge with my riders, offering them tours of local art-cities. I pursue my studies whenever I have the opportunity, mostly during the winter months. I also enjoy writing. I have written “Pietro’s Book”, the story of a Tuscan peasant farmer, published by Collins in 2003; the original Italian version is now into its third edition. Recently I have completed my autobiography ‘Tuscany on horseback: a horsewoman’s love affair with the land of Chianti wine’ for which I am trying to find a publisher. I am now working on a book about a fascinating but little known aspect of medieval sculpture. I haven’t mentioned my son Nicholas; I certainly couldn’t live without him: who else would deal so patiently with my frequent problems with the computer? He is a journalist but finds time to help me in all sorts of ways.

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

My most memorable week was a few years ago in October. I was guiding a group of riders round Chianti and it had been raining so much that all the tracks had become torrents. When we arrived at the river Arbia, what was usually not more than a sluggish stream was now a raging mass of water a hundred metres wide. I ventured into the edge of the water until it reached my stirrups; then I looked back and saw five very pale faces! We turned back to our base, stopping only once to relieve ourselves, holding our raincoats over our bare bottoms in a vain attempt to keep them dry. When we got back to our base my colleague drove the riders to their hotel outside and in view of Siena, whereupon one of them, a paediatrician from Hawaii, threw herself on the floor and had a tantrum, demanding to be taken to the airport immediately! We did not comply, of course. Later I told some clients about this episode and one said that a paediatrician from Hawaii had done exactly the same thing on a trip in France…

Shewing horse at Rendola

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

How do I relax after a day in the saddle? After dinner I usually sit with my guests either outside the house or in the sitting room beside the fire, drinking some red wine and chatting. If I’m alone I read or listen to music, mostly classical. But I go to bed early because I’m an early riser, (I usually get up at about five.).

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

What advice would I give to a 20-year-old who wants to train for the job? Spend at least a year with a veteran guide. So much he or she can tell you about the job you will never find in books. Ride as many different horses as possible, as each one will teach you something more about this fascinating but complex animal. Interest yourself in every aspect of the area where your riding will take place: the flora, the fauna, the agriculture, the history. Not only will you be able to answer your guests’ questions, but it will make your rides much more interesting for YOU. Always give safety a priority: accidents can happen, but make sure that your lack of attention or sense of responsibility has not put any of your riders in jeopardy. Don’t expect to get rich if you take on this job; but you will enrich your life.

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11.    Where do you go on holiday?

Where do I go on holiday? Usually to England, where I still have friends and to which I still feel attached in spite of so many years spent in Italy. I usually go alone on long-distance walks, particularly in the North of England. I have also been on very enjoyable cultural tours in Italy, France and Germany.

Thank you Jenny for your wonderful images and a very insightful article.

You can meet Jenny from Rendola 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, Ranch holidays, rendola, Ride reviews, Riding expeditions, Riding Holidays, riding holidays italy, riding tuscany, The Riding Holiday Show, Travel advice, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Meet the Guides” at The Riding Holiday Show – Joanna Westermark from Kaskazi Horse Safaris , Tanzania

The Riding Holiday Show on 12 December 2015 is all about “Meeting the Guides” – in fact that’s what we called the event when we first ran it in 2007. It’s a chance to learn all about wonderful riding holidays all over the world, directly from the people who will be guiding you day by day. As well as an opportunity to renew friendships and chat about past experiences.

We thought it would be interesting to run a series of profiles of some of the people who will be at the Riding Holiday Show and here is another popular female guide – Joanna Westermark from Kaskazi Horse Safaris , Tanzania.

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1.    How long have you been guiding at Kaskazi Horse Safari?

4 1/2 years

2.    Where did you guide before this?

Manyara ranch conservancy, a conservancy based operation in Northern Tanzania. Prior to that I guided down in South Africa, Kwa Zulu Natal where I led horse safaris.25-manyara-ranch

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

Growing up  in Sweden and Kenya I did a lot of riding amongst game throughout my childhood so it’s always been something that I have had in the back of my mind. When I went down to South Africa to study Field guiding and hotel and lodge management the seed was then planted.

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

I probably would have become a banker. Jo and Bob racing, Kaskazi Horse Safaris

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?

We never refer to it as a job, it’s a lifestyle that you choose. I believe if your interests are in horses, the nature and wildlife I could not have asked for a better Lifestyle/job. The downside is that you can never “leave work”. It is a huge responsibility that will never end, even though you are on holiday. Apart from that I can’t come up with any other downsides. You deal with incredible people who are on holiday, that already puts our guests in a good mood.

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

It would be my lead horse Heat Haze. He is brave and will master any challenge; he has a fantastic temperament and is a true character. We suit each other well, both of us are somewhat crazy!

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

I could not live without my horses and dogs. I enjoy civilisation every now and then but I very quickly miss the bush. If I could, I would spend my life out in the bush with my horse, my dogs and a tent. Elsa and JO

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

When my horse saved me from a cobra.

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

With a nice ice-cold beer around the open fire. Fishing murchison

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

Work hard, aim high and believe in yourself. This will take you very far.  Life will always be full of ups and downs, but with no downs there are no ups!

11.    Where do you go on holiday?

I spend most of my holidays in Africa, although for my next upcoming holiday I will heading to South America.

Thank you Jo for the fantastic images and another wonderful article.

You can meet Jo from Kaskazi Horse Safaris 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, Horses & riding, in the saddle, Ranch holidays, Riding expeditions, Riding Holidays, Riding safaris, The Riding Holiday Show, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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