2014 was my 40th birthday. To celebrate, I wanted to realise a lifelong dream. I wanted an African adventure, a horseback safari.
I rode horses from an early age, competing locally in my teens, before my interest dwindled as I approached my 20â€™s. Despite the last tearful goodbye when my last pony was sold, I didnâ€™t spend any time around horses for almost two decades. I didnâ€™t miss it â€“ I had a career to build, relationships to find, cities to explore, clubs to get lost in. I was busy.
Fast forward to 2012 and following a turn of events which can really only be described as fate, I found myself back in the saddle, with more passion, more commitment, and more drive than ever before. One horse became two, early gym visits were replaced with 5am yard visits and I began to day dream about that African Safari.
At this point I had a husband, with no previous equine experience. He didnâ€™t ride, nor did he have any real desire to do so. But I wanted fast and furious gallops across arid terrain, chasing Zebra and running with Giraffe, I needed my husband to rise to the challenge. In one year, he committed to learning not just to ride, but to ride without hesitation, to understand the bond between horse and rider that only comes with experience, time and in some cases, injury. This was no easy feat.
The process began slowly. Painful lessons at the local riding school. As an adult beginner there is a serious lack of decent steeds at most riding schools, he so desperately wanted to enjoy it, but every time he came back scowling, cold and literally waking like John Wayne, my heart sank a little more. How would I convince my husband that the thrill of riding could compete with any extreme sport or any race track experience. To tune into the mind of a beast, to reach speeds on the back of an animal that made your eyes water. I took a risk. I introduced my young inexperienced horse to my young (ish) inexperienced husband in the hope they would learn together.