In June, Caballo Blanco hosted one of the British Horse Society’s Challenge Rides. Between them our twelve riders raised an amazing £11,000 for BHS Welfare! Our Challengers were: Julie Barnicott, Linda Beaton, Diana Byrne, Lynn Zhuming Chen, Fiona Kearton, Maria Lewis, Marion Macritchie, Zoe Priestner, Sara Sawdy, Kirsty Spear, Diana The-Kronenburg and Janine Wimhurst. They were accompanied by Sarah Howard, a BHS representative. We couldn’t have asked for a better group of riders. They were all fantastic and made it such a memorable trek for us, too!
Maria Lewis, our youngest challenger, offered to write about her experience of the trek for this blog. She enjoyed herself so much she is returning for a working holiday in September, we can’t wait to see her! Read on for her account of the Challenge Ride:
I rode with Caballo Blanco through the BHS as a fundraising challenge ride, and what an absolutely incredible experience it was! My trek lasted for seven days, and we covered a vast variety of terrain in glorious sunshine – we climbed steep mountains, galloped through luscious Pine forests (but look out for the hairy caterpillars) and climbed to 2000m above sea level.
It seemed as though, only hours later, we had worked our way downhill, along bright orange tracks and past hundreds of Olive trees, and had reached a glorious, grey riverbed. All of our horses enjoyed a splash in the river, and Miro and Julie particularly enjoyed covering me in brown, muddy water – it even went in my mouth! Tasty!
The area as a whole was absolutely stunning, and we would often smell strong herbs such as Rosemary, or spot the odd Caper plant. Sarah and Emma, our guides, were extraordinarily knowledgeable about the area, and would be able to tell us about all the plants, the change in weather and water levels, as well as some amusing stories and must see places. The welfare of the horses was prominent throughout the duration of the trip, and we all became involved to ensure this – we would often stop off at bars and local markets to allow the horses a break (oh what a shame that we had to stop in bars for an hour or so!), and we would always break for lunch in an idyllic spot, ranging from Pine forests, to meadows to steep mountain sides.
Each and every single horse was fighting fit, exceptionally well looked after and clearly very happy in their work.I rode Trifle, a 16hh, Bay Irish sports horse, but there were plenty of horses to swap for if you weren’t so sure, although Sarah had done a brilliant job at matching us perfectly to our horses and everyone was very pleased. Trifle was a very friendly and incredibly powerful mare, and she made light work of the steep, hilly climbs over tricky terrain – she most definitely broke a sweat but was keen to carry on going and get us both safely to the top.
All of the horses were very sure footed and made us all feel safe as we clambered up rocky mountain sides, down steep slopes and along old mule tracks – something we most definitely don’t do at home! On our seventh and last day, our group climbed for an hour and a half up a steep, rocky mule track. The horses keenly carried us up these tracks with regular intervals, and were happy to stop for lunch and munch on the green, meadow-looking plants as we overlooked the waterfalls – astounding! The trek was stress free and very well organised, and Sarah and Emma – our guides – made us feel very welcome, along with the hosts of the various farmhouses that we stayed at along the way. It is safe to say we ate very well, and never felt unsure to ask any questions, with all of our dietary needs being very well met.
The diverse group of ladies were very friendly and quickly bonded – I don’t think I remember a quiet moment! I am 19, and was the youngest of the group, where women came from all over the world (three even came from Singapore!), and varied in backgrounds and ages – I believe that the most mature lady was 63, and still incredibly fit and raring for a challenge.
We formed strong bonds that will last a lifetime, and it was fascinating how a group ofindividuals and lone travellers could so quickly become friends! An incredible experience on exceptional horses, in a beautiful location and with fabulous people – Sarah, when can we come again?!?