I met Jen Clingly - A stunning little pocket rocket / equine entrepreneur a couple of years ago, when I was doing clinics in Tassie. Jen is co-founder of “Wild about Hooves” and “Australian Horse Adventures' partnered alongside her husband Jeremy Ford.
Jen told me about her high class Holiday Adventure rides and she suggested I should come and join forces with them one day. What started as a simple idea in the sky, quickly turned into scheduled reality. A year later I was in Stanley co joining Jen and Jeremy on one of their spectacular rides based at iconic Highfield House up on Tasmania's far North West Coast.
I was invited to work alongside this dynamic couple as a guide as well as a mindset coach. Supporting the riders on and off the horse.
Taking a group of riders out in wide open spaces, on horses they don’t know is always a bit nerve wracking. So much could potentially go wrong and as we well know, horse riding is an activity that comes with risk disclaimer.
What I saw on the first day absolutely blew me away!
It was a typical Tassie day, not one of those occasional sunny and still days, but rather one of those windy, cold, freezing days. It was day one of our 5 day ride and after the initial introduction and groundwork to familiarise each rider with their new equine partner, we were ready to get in the saddle.
In the security of our little sheltered paddock we first made sure that everyone felt comfortable and acquainted before we started on some riding drills and equine friendship assessments. A bit like speed dating really!
It is important that every rider feels confident with the horse they are partnered with and doing some drills gives everyone the chance to check that they can stop, go, turn and rein back. Naturally I also spoke about breathing, relaxing and finding your balance in the saddle.
When everyone was happy and while the wind was still howling, Jeremy suggested that we go for a ‘little ride’ just so that everyone could get a feel for their horse.
What I have learned since then is that Jeremy’s ‘little rides’ and my ‘little rides’ come from two entirely different realms of terminology.
Jeremy opens a gate, we cross the lane, opens another gate and here it was….The most breath taking, spectacular view you could ever imagine. Up on a hillside, looking out over magnificent paddocks, where a relaxed herd of beef cattle were grazing on lush, abundant grass.
Looking across the paddock I noticed that there were no fences. Well, they didn’t need any....The cliff side was the boundary line. The end of the paddock dropped down at least 100 meters. A sheer landing into the wild sea with raging waves, which belonged to the notorious Bass Strait of Tasmania.
Just as I was taking it all in, the sky darkened and down came the rain. There was a flicker of excitement, I felt a little like the Man from Snowy River, putting all my trust into my horse, preparing to conquer the elements, before the second thought popped into my head “Someone may just die today!!”
All of a sudden, I was no longer Man from Snowy River. I was the guide who had to look after a group of riders and keep each and every one safe.
Just as I opened my mouth to call out to Jeremy that we should call off our ‘little ride’, there came a massive wind gust. As I was watching and feeling very helpless, I saw all the horses on Jeremy’s command, turn bums to the wind and form a line to wait out the storm. Without me doing anything, my horse followed suit and he seemed to say to me “Don’t worry, I’ve got this!”
Trail riding, windy days and novice riders don’t make a good combination, unless you have horses that are rock solid. And what I saw was nothing less than a group of rock solid horses. Who all seemed to say the same thing….”don’t worry, we’ve got this.”
This was pretty much what they were saying every day of the ride. We rode along the most spectacular beaches and rainforests. Through coastal and inland bush, along roads and through townships. And to the best fish and chip shop I have ever experienced!!!!!
All the horses, mostly Arabian endurance horses, are ridden in a halters, run barefoot and ready for action. They are not your usual shutdown trail riding horses that follow blindly what’s in front, but rather they are horses that are happy, have character and personality beaming and they are extremely well trained.
The best part is - They absolutely love their adventures. Jeremy knows them inside out and they trust him implicitly.
To top it all off the accommodation was incredible. The local food source was abundant and delicious. Hospitality from locals was welcoming and warming.
And as for the wine bar, well what can I say. What happens in the wine bar stays in the wine bar.
I have been very fortunate to be invited twice now and each time it blows my mind. I can honestly say that I would trust each and every horse with my life (and Jen and Jeremy too for that matter).
To be able to take riders of all experience - some have lots and some have very little, out and about in a way that promotes confidence and enjoyment, in one of the most beautiful places on earth is such a privilege.
I cannot thank Jen and Jeremy enough for their trust in me and the opportunity to come and ride with their team.
As soon as I can, I will be back in Tassie and we will once again saddle up the horses.
If you are interested to join us, please contact Jen from Australian Horse Adventures.
This sure is a gig I could do over and over again!
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