A Cure for Pony Fever

Written by  Kat Mackintosh

An embarrassing memory: but when I was a kid and my parents dragged me along on their bushwalks I used to pretend I was on a horse and gallop or canter along the rough tracks in the silvery grey Australian bush. I was ‘The Girl from Snowy River’ or riding on Velvet or Black Beauty...interesting that I dragged my heels and was too tired and grizzly to walk yet able to canter or gallop... I recently found out that I’m not the only one who used to do this; apparently ‘pony fever’ is a common disease in the 6 through 12 bracket. Along with this I also found out that you’re never too old to bring those equestrian dreams to fruition.

You don’t have to be able to ride to embark on a riding holiday. Technically I’ve ridden before, about five times, but I don’t think that counts for much more than being able to tick the ‘Not afraid of horses’ box. While some riding adventures cross remote, challenging terrain, like a trip along The Great Silk Road, some are scenic strolls between quaint little B and B’s, for example a riding trip round Andalusia.

Even exotic locations like Australia’s Snowy River Region, where I took my trip, have beginners trails. It takes a few days to wear your tail and saddle in to each other, but the quiet plains and mountains are a gentle if dramatic terrain, and with a guide to help you cook your meals and make sure you don’t go astray, the hut accommodation makes for a pretty comfortable trip.

While on the trail Iceland and Mongolia, especially the Khovsgol National Park are the two destinations people talked most about wanting to ride. The native horses and the scenery were what people dreamed about rather than the horsemanship, which made me think I wasn’t the only beginner.

I’m planning my next big riding trip to be in a really exotic setting - the Okavango Delta or the Patagonian Pampas spring to mind, but I think a few shorter trips might be called for before, Killarney National Park maybe? I liked my horse, Mirrabelle, but I did feel she may have secretly resented my ineptitude in the saddle and my childhood fantasy included the close relationship between man and beast. As a beginner I mastered the basic commands comfortably and loved being out there in the wild, observing the surrounds from a slightly higher elevation than usual, but I think Mirrabelle was hoping I’d get the hang of it a bit quicker. She doesn't have to worry unless she's thinking of moving to Patagonia or the Okavango Delta, but take her a carrot from me if you're down Snowy River way.

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