Hidden Valley. Hidden Trails.


In the middle of ‘nowhere’

Have you not done the Wonnangatta ride?…

You will love the Wonnangatta ride.

You must do the Wonnangatta ride.

Statements and questions that have been put to me more times than I can count.

And the answer, always was “No, I haven’t”

And so,

despite Lock Down,

(or perhaps because of it, since this ride is always booked a year in advance)

I ‘signed up’ so to speak.

Signing up in this case meant :

a) borrowing money from the kids

b) packing for an 8 day trail

c) rearranging work

d) getting to the start of the ride

All with less than 24 hour’s notice as lock down was only lifted the afternoon prior to the ride.

Such is life in the world of Covid.

But that is nothing compared with the organisational skills shown by

Laura and Christian Hayes

http://www.hidden trail horse adventures

throughout these crazy times.

For this long and fairly inaccessible ride,

they went ahead the week before to prepare.

To drop off feed for the horses.

To clear tracks.

To check campsites.

The list is long.

Not a mean feat when you see where we ride.

An 8 day ride is an interesting experience.

It is long enough for personalties to shine,

some offering a bright light,

some providing the shadows.

who all made it work…

It is long enough to challenge bodies, both ours and our amazing horses.

…whichever way you look at it

It is long enough to cover a large area and see amazing views.

Hell’s window.
Along Mt Magdala
Loo with a view. Mt Howitt

It is long enough to experience mountain weather in many forms.

Misty mornings
Never dampened a smile….
and made for great ……
Regardless of what weather we were given.
Fields of flowers on Mt Howitt
Not quite smelling roses, but close enough…..
Or as in this case, not close enough. Look where They are…..

It is long enough to make good friends.

all kinds of friends….

Nothing like a fire, clear sky and hot food to calm the soul……
And create a sense of quiet……
….or not, as the mood takes us.
home made, delicious all of it…
There was always something to smile about……
…. whether only They could see it……
… or we all could!
There were moments of remarkable…..
… serenity….
……that held one captive
or made one smile with joy
Times of quiet contemplation……
and earnest reading…
Times of relaxation….
Times of roaming….
Times of climbing……
up and down…
Moments to cherish
moments to show of the resident hairdresser‘s work
Times of seeing clearly
Times of seeing dimly….
whether we wanted to, or not
There was light and space…..
Colour and blossom
And ghostly shapes
There were rivers to cross and people to meet
There were roads to follow…
Moments to capture…
Or was that horses to capture…..
Ah no, it was light !
There was time to graze….
and time to gaze
and time ponder the beauty of nature….
Moments of quiet with no…..

……man in sight.
moments made of sheer joy.


as quickly as I had packed to join the ride,

so I had to pack to leave the ride.

The trip of a lifetime.

A trip never to be forgotten.

A trip I hope to repeat,

as I ask YOU now,

“Have you not done the Wonnangatta ride?…
You will love the Wonnangatta ride.
You must do the Wonnangatta ride.”

Photos are not all mine,  this was a ‘group’ affair – thank you everyone 

Yeeha Cowgals 🐴

Come with me- it will be fun she said


(For those who don’t know 😂😂 see the links


www.leepowrie.com/Saturday-breakaway )

In the Otway National Park between Torquay and Anglesea.

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Screen Shot 2019-08-26 at 3.01.27 PM

And so I did .

Go with her.

It was a VERY early Start

with a Very rocky ferry trip


And it was. 🙃😍

Fun that is

Who? Me?

The Yeeha Cowgals

There was great weather, most of the time.

Always an interesting beginning – meeting our ‘transport’. So much trust involved from both partners in this ‘gig’ and not much time to develop it.

Before you know it, you are up and waiting, me on Misty this time – and Yes, you guessed it – a flea bitten grey – must have something to do with someone’s age I am beginning to think!!!!!!

There was also rain,wind and cold some of the time. 😉

Rain, wind and cold arrived on our way home – no one was in any mood to take photos and this one doesn’t really show how wet and miserable we both were!!!! Trust me…..

There was laughter, most of the time. 😉.

Not Actually squashed against the tree!

Besties now and forever

Smiles before the rain

still smiling…. and hanging on!!

There was also a grumble or too some of the time. 😉.

There were great views, all of the time😍


whichever …….

way we ……


The Otway

National Park

And a welcome stop for a pub lunch😉

Well, I don’t know about the Camel, but I do know there was a thirsty Horse and an even more thirsty Rider!

Well, there Really was food as well, but cowgals like their horses had to have a drink!!!!

Well after all …..

we had eaten…..

so it was only fair…..

we (seriously) let them eat too!

There was a horse stuck in water, for some of the time.

And a great sense of relief when she finally stood up again 😍

A planned human pit stop….. and an anxious wait for a horse swim stop to stop

Great relief when both were confirmed safe. And we could continue.

There were canters to die for and some who thought they would! 😉


Long lovely stretches to canter

Bikes one way…..

Horses the other way…..

as we ambled in to Anglesea ( Pete what did you do with Jacqui?                                                                 I hope she is at the end of that rein!)

There was exhilaration and exhaustion.

For some it was hard to tell which was which !

There was tooth ache; bum ache, leg ache and ‘unmentionable’ ache. 😉


There were hot showers, Uber eats and ‘Thirsty Camel’ to lift our spirits

so that we could drop our bodies into warm beds. 😊


There were crack of dawn starts and lazy long lie ins. 😴

There were beach walks, energetic runs, coffees and breakfast. 😊

Salty Dog early morning

ah, such a treat

and such beauty as

we used two legs instead of four!!

There were ferry and car rides and hugs goodbye.😘




There were new friends made, old histories shared, bold futures imagined and

joint memories made. 😊

And just like that the Yeeah cowgals weekend was over.


And we went back to our different worlds.


Thanks to a group of  Yeeha Cowgirls

who despite a 40 year age difference made me feel young again !!! 😝

And yes, she was right.

It was fun.

 (thanks too, for the photos)

Barossa Valley heaven


I cannot in all truth begin this with

‘there are no words’

which is usually how I feel about my amazing horse riding adventures.

There Were words.

Plenty of them.

Well, for starters, there were 8 women,

thrown together by the love of horses and adventure.

And in case that was not enough of a conversation starter,

there was the countryside, the horses, the food and the amazing wines.

Allow me to introduce our ‘Barossa Belles’ by way of these photos.

(the word descriptions will follow)

That’s “US”                                                                                                  The Formal ……

and the far more ‘real’ us

And it turns out all the ladies loved words.

And we didn’t stop using them the entire trip.

Trail riding is something very special.

There is the ‘getting to know’ your horse.

We are each allocated a horse, based on, well observation during our first lunch together I think.

And with Jen & Jeremy’s uncanny skill, they matched us all perfectly.

No one at any time thought about changing horses.

And I, happily, had my old friend Basheer again –

goodness I had forgotten how much I loved him.

Tassie Tigers….. (a very good description of the love of my life is in this link)



And so it was that we and our horses were ‘a pair’,

We had more or less worked out ‘the basics’.

Every trainer has different ways of ‘communicating’ with their horses and so,

apart from knowing which is the front and back ends

(I have more or less mastered That one now 🙂

there remains the small but important things like,

‘go’, or perhaps more importantly ‘don’t go’.

Which I can assure you differs from horse to horse.

Not sure what exactly Piccolo’s trick was – but it raised a laugh!


Ruby allowing Jan to show her trick

Basheer’s trick is to cuddle – me

Trail Riding is something very special.

We ride together, we eat together, we share a house together.


And we absorb together.

We absorbed the beauty

the conversation

the space

the solitude

The magnificence of the Barossa Valley.

The scale of the gum trees.

The tragedy of the drought.

The generosity of the horses.

The views

were breathtaking

and sometimes took the

horses breath away

too with the steepness

The trees

were so amazing

it felt as though each

could tell us a

a hundred and one stories

about their lives…

water so scarce, so muddy, the sheep get bogged and cannot get out

almost the only water we saw on the ride

Sometimes we ride in single file.

Sometimes alongside someone.

Sometimes we talk.

Sometimes we don’t.

There are times when it’s all in my head,

the surprise that I am actually riding a horse;

the enormity of the space around me;

A lunch time stop.

the sounds of riders talking to others somewhere in front, or behind,

-a soft murmur of words,

unintelligible but creating a sense of well being.

Reminding me as I write this,

of the murmur of parents voices when,

as a child one falls asleep safe in the their sound.


Private thoughts….

shared moment…..

trail riders….

finding our way


Trail riding is something very special.

Because it is not all about riding.

There is ‘down time’ – when we sit and chat,

when we sit and eat

when we sit and share:

our stories, our lives,

our adventures, hurts and joys

when we sit and laugh and even be foolish

That sun ….

Or perhaps it was that wine….

Either way ….

spooning was the way to go

Or perhaps more drinking.

Then again, just lying in the sun :  just ‘being’

Of course

the views

and food

made for such

joyful smiles

and conversations

Our home from home

Our making ourselves “at home”

Trail riding is very special.

You can cover so much ground and it is often so relaxing

but at the same time you can never really relax

as these amazing animals can spook at their own shadow,

or yours, or even a butterfly, or for no reason at all.

And it behoves one to always “be alert, so as not to be alarmed”

and so we remained alert

as we cantered through

the most amazing forest

Of course your understand we are not cantering in these photos 🙂 🙂 🙂

We are absorbing the smell of the pine trees,

the hushed sound of the hooves on the soft turf,

the call of the  Currawongs  disturbed by our presence

for the duration of this particular ride, there really were no words,

we were in awe of the place.

There was a very special night

at St Hugo’s where

we had scrubbed up and donned our bling…

to learn about this estate, its history, it’s ups and downs

all the while indulging …. but with class 🙂 🙂

There was much to absorb

and learn

and put into practice

with joy and smiles

The food was amazing,

the wine outstanding,

an evening not to be forgotten.


And if bling isn’t your thing,

you eat at the Farmer’s Market.

Where the food is offered with as much love and care

And your back pocket will thank you

As we did them, for a wonderful breakfast.

Not to be outdone,

a night at Grand Cru Estate

where 5th generation winemaker,

Peter Seppelt entertained us

with his home made pizzas,

Seppelt wines,

warm fires and hilarious jokes.

Or are All jokes hilarious if the food and wine is good?


The pizza oven

with everyone waiting

The home……

the food…..

the company…..

oh and the wine….

Did I mention the


or the company

and as for the chocolate dessert!!!!!

Everyone was very mellow

as we listened in awe

to Susannah’s poetry recital


I said there were words,

heaps of them and

amazingly our resident poet produced the most wonderful limericks of

us and our horses.

So good I am sure you would like me to share:

Lee and Basheer

A remarkable woman named Lee

Could never pass by a good tree

“Take a photo!” she’d cry

Bounding happily by

On Basheer (who I’m sure would agree).

Jan and the matriarch Ruby

Striding out at the front of the pack

Unerringly finding the track

With the wind in their hair

A formidable pair

Boss girl Ruby, with Jan on her back


And tricky Vicky with her agile Moo:

A competent rider is Vicky

Whose jodhpurs were (luckily) sticky

Moo went down on her knees

But as calm as you please

She rode on and smiled “That wasn’t tricky”


JANE and her equally striking Gem:


Now Jane has been riding a while

And it shows in her posture and style

With her Gem of a horse

She conquered the course

And all with a beautiful smile!       


JUDY who bred miniature donkeys on Piccolo

For Judy, a donkey’s the go!

And she thought she’d prefer to go slow

Then she cantered the hill

And she’s praising him still

Her wonderful steed, Piccolo.


Linda and Colt 45

This pair were so bright and alive

Gentle Linda and Colt 45

When we started to trot

Little Colty got hot

And his jogging turned into a jive!

HELEN and Opal who clashed with a gate – no damage done 🙂

Opal had Helen’s trust from the start

The calm pretty mare won her heart

Until an old gate

Intervened in their fate

And caused them, just briefly, to part.





The views, the light, the skies, the horses, the food, the people.

I almost said ‘no words’

But that would be untrue for as you can see

we had lots of words

and a final fling from Susannah

which I shall keep for the final lines of this blog.



We rode through vineyards, gold and crunchy in the autumn sun,

the creak of the saddle and crunch of their feet in the leaves the only sounds.

And just because we could,

a visit to Maggie Beer’s Farm

and a cookery demonstration.


And just like that, a week of unadulterated joy was over.

And we went our separate ways,

Joined forever by memories to treasure


And summed up by Susannah in a poem she just ‘whipped up’ for us – quoted below:

Susanna and her

and her Jaberwocky

who helped with the words


There’s a stirring in the vineyards and a whisper in the leaves

And the magpies joyful carolling is heard

For Australian Horse Adventures have arrived back in SA

With their happy, willing, home-bred Arab herd

The beginner and the nervous, and the confident, the brave

The older, “Can I do it?” come to ride

There’s a horse to suit all riders, there’s a mount to keep you safe

And a saddle that will cushion every stride

There’s pretty little Opal, Ruby – Queen of all the herd

And sweet and grey is photogenic Moo

There’s Tikka, little Colty, and Bashir and stately Gem

And Jabberwocky – just to name a few

The team behind the horses? Smiling Jeremy and Jen!

There’s nothing that’s too hard or can’t be done

Every rider’s warmly welcomed, feels like family from the start

And they know that wine just magnifies the fun!

And their passion is their horses, they are proud of all the herd

Their barefoot, bitless, fit and healthy crew

They can tell you endless stories of adventures on the trails

And the tricks their clever equine mob can do

And Phil from up on Tower Hill comes down to lend a hand

To start your day with bacon, eggs and toast

And he boils the lunchtime billy and his pumpkin soup’s the best        

(sorry Jeremy, it just rhymes!)

He’s the humming kitchen fairy with the most!

And the countryside is stunning, ancient red gums, high bare hills

Where the breezes cool you after every climb

You can canter shady forest paths or trot between the vines

The only part you’ll hate is passing time.

And the food! The wine! (The laughter!) A gastronomist’s delight!

Each day a chance to taste Barossa’s best

The experience of meeting those who grow this produce too

Just makes this ride a cut above the rest.

And heading home – such sadness, the Barossa ride is done

But memories and photos tell the tale

Of a landscape of great beauty seen between a horse’s ears

And the best of times and friends made on the trail.

The oldest Shiraz vines in the world since those in France were destroyed by disease.



Moments captured

Jen & Jeremy of

Australian Horse Adventures 

are the most amazing hosts

and without any doubt,

made this an extraordinary adventure.

Thank you Both.





Morocco Ride – Kiddy Goats

And there we were, having to find a new campsite apparently.

Or rather our back up truck had to find the new campsite.

Which did not impress our lead guide,

(who of course, did the least of the work – just between you and I)037e79b2fb52127537be79110891ae3f

I on the other hand thought it an imminently sensible decision.

Once I learnt we were not the only madmen horse riding in the Sahara.

There was another group, and they were indeed mad and men.

Or at least their horses were, a group of stallions.

And considering all our horses were mares.

Well you see why I thought it an imminently sensible decision.


Apart from anything else, I personally thought it was one of our loveliest campsites.

Nope. that does not mean it had any amenities,

but it did have

a hill!!!

The hill alongside our campsite

Which served multiple purposes as you shall see.

The first and most significant one is

we could walk behind the hill and not be seen

– a very big plus in a desert with no toilets (or bushes).  21-emoji-tears

But be that as it may.

It was the spot where we saw, or let me rephrase that,

others saw

The Most Amazing Something flash across the sky.

(see Morocco Ride – the next days)

And it invited us all to explore.

It was enough of a hill to offer views, but not so much of a hill that it was daunting

so despite a whole day in the saddle,

3 of us raced off to see what we could see.

And no sooner had we begun to clamber up the rocks




Than we heard the strangest sounds and looked back to see these kids

(little goats, not children, although we saw them too)

come running towards us as though their lives depending on reaching us.

The ‘Hill”

They clambered up the rocks like

proverbial mountain goats

bleating all the time and leaving us wondering

what was going to happen when they reached us already at the top.

And what happened is that they stopped,

looked at us, looked around and

then scampered down with equal haste.


Rushing back to ‘mumma’

Leaving us very bemused and feeling quite ungainly as

we clambered down the same rocks they had jumped and leapt down.


The ‘Hill” with us clambering down – not quite like the goats 🙂

Through a conversation with ‘Da Mohammed’ my ‘go to’ on this trip

I believe I worked out the following:

The adult goats are taken by the shepherd to find feed while the

youngsters remain at the Bedouin camp.

For some mysterious reason, they (the youngsters)

thought we were their mothers

and they came running across

bleating to greet us and I presume seeking milk.

Imagine their disappointment!!!!


As the women from the camp came to call them and take them back ‘home’

It was such a fun interlude and surprise and

no sooner had we arrived back in camp than another group went up

to see the setting of the sun.

Without the goats this time.

view from

the top

looking at our camp

and at the camera

Miles of not very much…

Lovely Jo, whom I thank for all these photos – waving as she reminds us – life is good…

Silhouettes against ……

a setting sun.

A appropriate way to end.

An amazing adventure.

Morocco Ride – the next days…

(To be read after Morocco Ride – day one )

And just like that, the horses and riders worked together.

The first day was,

for everyone, a surprise,

requiring much energy, patience and self control.

But here, on day two,

it felt as though we all knew what was required

and were confident we could survive

and even enjoy the seven day ride.


It is true they were long days in the saddle.

It is true it was hot.

It is true we had tiny tents and no ablution facilities.

And it is also true that I loved every moment.

Long hours in the saddle


with a hot sun most of the day

and thankfully a cooling in the evening


our very tiny ‘homes’


Someone made these barriers – miles and miles of them.

The long stretches of silence as I absorbed the vastness around me

The companionable times I rode alongside someone and we shared our thoughts

The kindness of “D”‘ Mohammed, the guide who ‘adopted’ me

The responsiveness of my amazing horse, Zeina,

her kindness, generosity, strength and endurance.


the guide “Da” Mohammed who took such care of me “Da” old lady                                      (da apparently meaning ‘old/wise’ 🙂

Perhaps these photos will illustrate  where words cannot,

what was a most remarkable experience.

We passed a Bedouin Family. I did not go in, but some did.

The miles and miles of ‘nothing’ – with it’s own kind of beauty

And so much room to gallop, canter and have fun

The only ‘fresh’ water on the trip

It was hot and dusty

and sometimes it felt like a looooong day

Once we rode under a ‘shield’ of shade for about 5 minutes – I remember it was heaven and I thought of the cowboy movies where they always found shade. 🙂  Perhaps the heat had made me hallucinate – who knows, but I clearly remember thinking about cowboy movies!!!!!

Biblical in its symbolism – like so much of this trip

pulling up water bucket by bucket


to give to our horses


no words,

just vistas

of a land

both harsh

and beautiful

whichever way I



Feeding our horses was a daily ritual

required everyone’s help – even the little travellers who joined us and gave us so much joy

as well as giving our lovely horses food


Some played while others watched…..

and the men hauled water

bucket by bucket at the wells along the way (there were not many of them I might add – those horses were remarkable)


‘Da Mohammed’  Whose kindness gave me courage. Whenever I looked around, there he was, keeping pace, watching out for me – and it wasn’t just me he cared for     He loved the horses passionately and was always working. – I shall forever remember him with fondness

And of course there was the necessity of feeding ourselves as well…..


whether it was buying an orange from the locals (loved the clothes!)

or trying to buy something to drink…

and our daily delicious lunch – fresh salads, tinned tuna and bread pockets that were fresh on day one, not so fresh day seven 🙂

but always prepared with such love by our amazing guides

while we were left to search for ‘the proverbial’ ablutionary bush…… and may I add, it took some searching – good ablution bushes were few and far between.

Our campsite was always a welcome sight – table and chairs a real treat and many happy hours we spent round that chatting and sharing



One night we slept in luxury,

a Bedouin camp with

‘stand up tents’

and sit down toilets,

even if they didn’t actually flush

and real warm water dripping out of a shower – of sorts.

How easily we were pleased.

How quickly we learnt to appreciate what a week before we would have despised.

A “Stand up” tent – didn’t matter that four of us slept in it – it was LUXURY – Fully lined with the most beautiful rugs

Some even did washing!!!! Drying was not a problem

Our neighbours

That bizarre time warp

the juxtaposition of the modern

and the ancient

They munched

and sat and pondered

as a herder sat and munched

and pondered

There was a particular evening which perhaps sums up how amazing this place is.

look carefully you will see the light of our camp

We were seated at our table – 8 one side and the rest of us on this side,

it was dark, the sky ablaze with trillions of stars.

(In fact someone had counted

28 shooting stars in less than 29 minutes one night)


Conversation and laughter was alive with energy when

out of nowhere those 8 faces opposite us

 froze for a few seconds,

then there was a collective cry of amazement.

They had all, at the same time seen something in the sky –

we are yet to define it precisely.

Suffice to say, this meteor, comet, or something else flashed across the sky,

so vividly and for such a long time

that they were stunned into silent awe

while those of us who had our backs to this wonder

were left amazed

at their amazement.

They were speechless at first

and then

could not stop speaking – all at once,

trying to explain what they had just seen,

clearly frustrated

that no words could adequate describe their collective vision.

This is in many ways

an ‘other worldly place’


a speck in the sky

grew larger

to reveal an Air Morocco plane – how appropriate!!!


a night of singing with drums and a fire – our guides leading the way, as usual


One day,

We went over a mountain pass .

I write it so casually,

but it was anything but a casual passing through a pass

(I seem to remember another pass that was less casual then casual 🙂

Always read the fine print. Really? )


We went over on foot

It was steep

It was hot

We lead our horses, always hoping they did  not step on our heels 🙂

it was Up and Up


taking a break whenever we could…

DSCN1568 (1).jpg
leaning on each other while we took a breather….

or some photographs

it felt like there was no end…

… to the slog.

and the heat.

and then we were

at the top – recovering and


and contemplating the

amazing vastness ahead.

It was a very real and yet at the same time very surreal experience.

And as I sat there, catching by breathe and looking

at the land before me,

I was drawn to The Book and the Promised Land.

And the time warp took me there –


I couldn’t help but think of Moses (Deuteronomy 34),

who was allowed to see the that promised land

but was not allowed to cross over into it.

Craziness, Heat, Weariness?

Or perhaps this place truly is something different.

Of course I wasn’t looking at The Promised land.

For one thing I was in the wrong country.

For another thing,

there was nothing attractive about what lay in front of me.

Stones, sand

and no milk or honey.

And yet that is where my mind kept taking me.

Promised land?

And then began the descent….

Mercifully in the shade of the mountains for a short while.

Coaxing our horses we began the descent

Down and

down.. careful step…


by careful step

Until finally we could ride again.

Welcome shade, for a short while,

and then the sun again.

As I said.


It was a very real and yet at the same time very surreal experience.

Trudging along, with my horse, with the heat, with no idea of what was ahead,

and in my head a picture of

Mary and Jesus going to Egypt as refugees,

trudging along, with their donkey, with the heat, with no idea of what was ahead

and once again this amazing country

took me into a time warp.


Images along the way……

From shopping and eating…

To sights and views

Jan, who gave this ride a miss and was always waiting to welcome us with Such a Lovely Smile…..

That sun and dusk was something to behold

and so we pretended to be masked bandits 🙂

The most precious commodity in the desert

alone in an almost alien world

with the occasional sign of habitation

and then again signs of absolutely

absolutely nothing……..

but miles of stone and sand

and occasional ‘hills’

follow my leader for 7 days.

A truly remarkable experience.


Thank you Jo, for all your lovely photographs. 


Morocco Ride – day one…..

The thought of ‘thundering’ through the plains of Mongolia

was what got me on a horse in the first place;

and here I was,

about to ‘thunder’ across the plains of  Morocco, on a horse!

Who would have thought!

And while I am still to see the Mongolian plains,

I have seen miles and miles of the Sahara desert,

some 100 something kilometers I believe.

Nor I am complaining.

After all they both show up on the world map,

both begin with an M, 

and both are exotic sounding.     

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And so after some adventures along the way Always read the fine print. Really? 

which reminded me this was an exploratory trip,

I was relieved to find that we were not going to Tombouctou

appealing as the name is….


(although I always thought it was Tim Buck Too)

Because 52 days of travel was not appealing at all – again I suggest you ‘read the fine print’ to find out more 🙂

some of the crew – full of anticipation….



we found ourselves in Zagora

where we needed to stop,



stock up

and meet our horses.



Not one of our horses, but certainly ‘the stables’ where we found our horses 🙂

Did I mention this ride began on my birthday?

No, I don’t believe I did – but there you have it.

To celebrate my 65th birthday I was about to ride a horse for 7 days in the Sahara.

Tells you something about what has happened to my mind in my old age!!!!!

And so the first night, spent at the ‘stables’ as shown above was round a table with delicious food and celebratory musicians.

delicious food

enthusiastic musicians

Sadly I do not have any of the promised Professional photographs yet but these lovely ones are largely thanks to Jo – so very much appreciated.

Where they fail, use your imagination.

We had two belly dancers and a group of male musicians all of whom wanted to party long after we were all ready to retire!

Beginning to wish they were as ready for bed as we were !!!!


So far so good,

We had all had much fun,

survived the drive from (or was it too?) hell to get here

and  were about to begin a different ride bright and early

the day after the night before.


So how do I explain our first morning?

Maybe refer to my rough notes which I show below.


They say:

“WOW!!!!!!  CHAOS

Barb & Arab horses.   

Good riders and still chaotic.   

What am I doing here

Fractured wrist and all

Stomach churning,

Ready to bail 

 But do what? 

Sit in the truck with no one speaking English?

Stayed – so nervous couldn’t even see the views”


Really difficult to explain how hectic this morning was.

18 riders, more than I have ridden with before.

All of them much better riders than I am and still they had their hands full.

Of course these photos hastily taken by someone show tranquility –

that is because when there wasn’t (tranquility) which was most of the time that morning,

no one Could take photos 🙂

Waiting as they saddled

our horses, which took

a looong time

Luckily for me I had Not done my homework on the Barb horse (or Berber)

because they are described as :

” generally possessing a fiery temperament and an atypical sport-horse conformation,

but nevertheless has influenced modern breeds”.   

It would appear even the Andalusian was bred through the Barb.   

 I certainly saw some of that fiery temperament on that morning.


I did learn that they had been fed oats for a few days prior,

with no work,

in anticipation of the 7 day ride ahead.

Oats apparently makes them ‘full of energy’.


And so I was here – for better or for worse.

Finally I was allocated a mount, Zeina, a flea bitten gray (again)

although this time a Barb Arab cross and happily for me,

the kindest, most willing, even tempered friend I could ever ask to spend 7 days with.

Fortunately too, I was the last to be saddled up

so I did not have to keep her tranquil for ages waiting for the others.

My flea bitten gray – Zeina and I. The sweetest soul in the Sahara…

So what were the views I according to my notes not see thanks to my nerves?

Well we left the ‘stables’ and found ourselves in the streets of Zagora.

Narrow lanes really,

where the sound of horses feet on the ground brought people rushing out from

every nook and cranny (of which there were many)

people appeared

from everywhere…..

and apparently nowhere to….

watch and even try to touch

observing us as we

passed through – and not just people stared at us!!!!!

Finally and thankfully we were out of the ‘crowds’ and could settle our horses and ourselves.

For what lay ahead……

Finally “Far from

The Madding Crowd”

we became the mad crowd  🙂

Which was fascinating.

The Draa Valley to begin with.

(the Draa river when it flows is Morocco’s longest river, 1 100 km)

a river valley filled with palm trees

with occasional ‘farms’

The Draa Valley

those ‘farms’

silent walking…

and sometimes talking

but always observing the scenery

It was an incredibly long day,

both in terms of hours in the saddle,

and emotionally as we settled with our horses

and worked through the Adrenalin of our start.

And my notes remind me we arrived at camp well past dusk,

weary, grateful for an AMAZING meal, and our tiny tents.

I for one, didn’t care that I wasn’t going to shower or wash,

I was just pleased to crawl into a warm sleeping bag, with a nourished body.

The mobile ‘kitchen’…

from which amazing meals were created

our mobile ‘homes’

Our Amazing support crew – 1 truck. All our gear, tents, food & horse food etc

Time to put our heads down for the night

Portugal – Dolphin Trail


I am used to travelling alone and often find myself ‘the odd one out’ in a group.   But never more so than when I joined a group of horse riders in Portugal.

  The group  had been riding together for several months and were

winding down towards the end of their epic adventure.

I had just arrived, all enthusiastic and

wound up at the beginning of my epic adventure.


They had long ago worked out where they ‘fitted’ in the group and their conversation flowed quickly and with a familiarity that left me ‘out on a limb’ for the entire evening.

That first dinner I felt like I was on one of the wobbly things you use in the gym.70275_1_Something designed to keep you on your toes; fully engaged and concentrating and wriggling this way and that to keep your balance!!!


But ‘find my balance’ I  did,


And the first morning of riding was filled with sunshine, smiles and a natural order….. me at the back, comfortable on my horse, Epico, by name,

following the straight backs and confident body language of the riders in front.

Now I know I don’t know much about much,

but this time I had done my homework.

I knew I was riding a Lusitano,

whose ancestors were found on the Iberian peninsula as long ago as 25 000BC.

Not that my Epico was that old  you understand,

but his father’s father’s father etc….. was there once.

   In fact, apparently this is his father,

which is hard to believe when you realise


that This is Epico. (on a good day)


But I digress (again).

Lusinatos and Andalusians were only recognised as separate lines in 1960.  Apparently the Andalusian has a straighter head profile and carriage and used for dressage and the Lusitano a rounder head and stronger athletic body for herding cattle and those bulls.

I also knew that the Iberian Peninsula was where Portugal ‘found’ itself, and the use of the word Iberian dates back to 500BC!!!

It is the second largest European peninsula (after the Scandinavian peninsula) with indications of habitation more than 1.2 million years ago.

The truth is the history of the Lusitano and the Iberian Peninsula is actually quite interesting, but something tells me it would bore you, so I shall remain interested without sharing 🙂 🙂 🙂

What I Will share, though is that I was on an ‘exploratory ride’ which meant we had a vague idea of what lay ahead, but only a vague one.

Which suited me.

I was on a 5 day trail in the  Costa Azul (blue coast) of Portugal,

with our guides, Miguel, Dennis and Vladimir

and waiting to see what unfolded.

Vladimir – so helpful