Adventures in Colombia: Polo, Pirates and riding a Mule for the first time! – Podcast Audio
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Adventures in Colombia: Polo, Pirates and riding a Mule for the first time! – Podcast Audio

October 29, 2019

Hello Equestrian Adventuresses! Welcome
to the community. On today’s episode I talk to Kat from the UK about her
adventures on horseback in Colombia. This is a very exciting episode. We talk
about her experiences riding mules which she didn’t think she would have ever
have done in her life. We talk about her gap year working in New Zealand with
polo ponies and she also shares a story with us about how she came to Colombia
and a random boat ride that she took to a small island where there was a boat
and she thought she was going to be attacked by pirates. So very exciting
episode today. Before we get started I want to take a moment and ask you to
subscribe to our podcast and leave us a review, so that others can find us. Check
out our website for our podcast episode show notes and to read articles from
amazing women having adventures on horseback
just like you. Today’s episode is brought to you by Chamdewallah. Check out their
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horsey even when you don’t play polo. Check out their website at Chamdewallah dot com. That is C H A M D E W A L L A H dot com. As usual you can find the link in our show
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Check it out on our notes and in our website at Equestrian Adventuresses dot com. Thanks for listening and cue the music! We are explorers. We
are Trailblazers. We love to do what cannot be done.
We love to test our limits cross borders and we love the freedom horses bring us.
We seek lands without fences. Who are we? We are Equestrian adventuresses! We
are a community of women who love horses, travel and adventure. And now you’re host Hello adventuresses! I’m your host
Krystal Kelly and today I’m talking to Kat or Katriona and she’s actually based
in the UK so we’re having a little chat today about her recent adventures. So hi
Kat! Hi! Alright, so tell us a little bit about yourself before we jump into the
very exciting stuff. where like where you’re from and how you got into horses?
Cool yeah so I’m based in Wales in the in the UK which is a very very pretty
part of the UK and I’ve been riding pretty much all my life so I did Pony
Club and we had kind of Pony Club horses and did lots of I guess trail riding
around around the UK and then I started playing polo when I was about 17 and was
absolutely hooked on on that and then started I guess I went to New Zealand
right yeah to play to play some polo and and then did my university degree and
kind of played throughout that and after uni I decided to kind of travel more and
ride kind of in lots of exciting places all over the world and as you kind of
just said I just got back from Columbia so we just I was just out there with 14
well we did a polo we were out playing polo for a couple of weeks and then and
there was 14 of us Road Road through Columbia as well and
which was super fun this is very exciting actually I can relate to the
Polo addiction because I a few years ago when I was working in Egypt I was
working with the showjumping stables and I sort of got voluntold at the local
Polo Club to ride a polo pony and it was like so addictive that I was hooked
after that and I just like was always coming to the Polo Club and then vaguely
like swapped to work there yeah I think is one of the most if you if you’re a
rider out there you haven’t tried polo it’s definitely one to give a go because
it’s the horses I just think they’re machines they are incredible they’re so
well behaved but like they’re so so like easy to the touch I kind of I guess like
cattle riding horses might be a good a good example maybe they’re like Ferraris
you know they drive like unbelievable they stop they turn they go fast they go
slow you know they’re just like really controllable and then they ride off like
they bump into each other and it’s just like so much it’s such a different vibe
I think and and what else did you like about polo like when did you start the
polo thing so I actually had a friend of mine who I don’t think my mum’s ever
forgiven came back from his gap year and I just said come on category like take
you to try try this new sport and I was like okay and I just it was the second I
tried it I was like I’ve got to get more of this yes that was around 17 and then
I decided to do my gap year in so the first time I kind of really got to play
a lot of polo was in my gap year in New Zealand so I went out there for a year
and kind of worked on a polo farm and then and got free polo for the privilege
of kind of looking after the horses and stuff very cool so you’re in New Zealand
is this sort of your first trip overseas or your first time away from home or how
did that um yeah so it probably I’ve been really lucky to travel a lot and
growing up just kind of summer holidays and that stuff with parents
but this was yeah my first trip by myself especially for like a long a long
period of time and how old were you at the time 18 so you’re in New Zealand
you’re all alone you’re at a horse stables playing polo like what was that
feeling like like what did you think to just look around like wow how did I end
up here yeah it was just incredible so yeah really really just I don’t it’s
funny because you kind of you look back on these times it’s just being so much
fun and but yeah you just can’t I I don’t know how to describe it was
freedom I guess it’s the best way to describe it because you’ve got freedom
from I guess being at school and all of that kind of stuff but also the freedom
of kind of being in this environment so I mean we were writing every single day
on these incredible horses and then the way it works in New Zealand which is
very different actually I think to pretty much anywhere else in the world
with polo so at the time in the South Island and we were basically doing and
every weekend everyone in the whole of the South Island would get together and
play polo together which was just incredible so from all over the South
Island people on their horses would just come and be be I guess be together and
have a big party and you’d play polo and it was just so much fun
and so for I know because England is so close to Europe and it’s like really
easy to just pop into Spain but you chose to go on your gap year to New
Zealand which is quite far from home I mean yeah was your family like oh no you
know were they nervous or worried or no I’ve been quite going off by myself and
so I think they were and my sister I’ve got an older sister so she went off to
Africa and for her gap year so so New Zealand was kind of cool so you did your
gap year and and what happened after that you said
you started bouncing around or yeah so I did well I was at uni and I ran a polo
club better and then when I was and then I worked actually afterwards so I did I
worked for three years in banking and mobile banking which was a bit bit odd
and I just couldn’t quite kind of I don’t know I couldn’t settle in it and
so I just quit my job and moved to Columbia as you do the best decision of
my life while I was out there I just absolutely
fell in love with Columbia it’s just the coolest most incredible country and so
this was probably five five five six years ago and and when I was out there I
didn’t really know what I was gonna do kind of post being in Columbia and I met
some really cool people they it was very so Columbia still hadn’t actually past
its peace treaty at this point but it was becoming a country that a lot of
backpackers were going to so people were starting to travel there and seeing how
amazing it was and so I kind of teamed up with some friends to try and bring
people from the UK to Columbia to kind of introduce them to Polo holidays
riding holidays or just generally kind of basically trying to get people to go
and see this really really cool country so when you were banking he said and you
did you just booked a flight to Columbia like randomly or was there an intention
like I’m going to move to this country or you know how did that conversation
have it like how did that start yeah Columbia I’ve got a very good
friend so I went to kindergarten with a girl called Jean Jardine and she had
moved to Columbia with her wellnow husband at the time boyfriend and they
had moved up into the jungle and so she kind of was like okay
you gotta come see me so this was while I was still working working in the banks
and I was like okay cool so but everything we were gonna meet up and go
and do this really cool tour of Columbia and then hurry I guess three days before
I was meant to leave England I got like a phone call from her saying look
something’s gone wrong with the business like I can’t meet you in Bogota anymore
and I was like don’t worry just where are you and I’ll come to see you
and she was in this place called Santa Marta which is this gorgeous little
fishing town in Colombia it’s like Google it was like hot really nice
fishing town in the Caribbean coast is like perfect I’ll just like that so I
did bury my Jean and I grew up for about six well from three to six in the Lake
District and are kind of we were basically told that if we rode our bikes
up and down the drive seven times will get an extra fish finger so we would
outdoors girls and we loved kind of the great outdoors my time in London I’d
been turned into kind of I guess the London banking girl on office person
yeah so I roped up and I was in like these pink jeans with black suede like
short boots and like a pretty table and I was like okay Coast she was like what
are you wearing it’s like I don’t know and she said oh we go and we went and I
hopped on well she took us to this place where there were all these motorbikes I
was like oh no she’s like on your heart so every day I got on the back of what
in Colombia is known as a moto taxi so it’s a taxi but it’s a motorbike because
they can get up into the mountains and so on we went and we were going for a
good kind of 20 to 40 minutes on these motorbikes till we got to this little
town called Minka and when we got there I mean at this time so this was five to
six years there was no tourism in this area at all
and so there was all these club minutes like what is this white blonde chick
bearing hand her like pink jeans wavers like hi and I was like great we’re here
she’s like no we’re just gonna have a beer cuz you’re gonna need one I was
like encourage any words of a friend swatch moto taxis so the guys that had
taken us to this point weren’t competent enough riders to get us up the next bit
and I was like oh god oh we literally did another 40 minutes in the jungle up
into these mountains and it was rainy season the roads there weren’t roads it
was proper jungle waterfalls on one side like jungle on the other so do you I
know it was your friend but did you have a moment of like oh no I’m in I don’t
know drug lord territory and I’m gonna die in the jungle or you know did you
have any fears or where you just kind of going with it like I was laughing it’s
like the probably the first time because we had to get off these motorbikes and
like push them I was like flatland just covered from head to toe in mud because
you just you know and I was I felt for the first time in a long time like me
again and I think that so we when we finally got out there there were it’s
just like the views were incredible you know you could see it was so I don’t
know if you know much about Colombia but it’s got the highest coastal mountain in
the world which is what we were climbing up it motorbikes so you had a rewarding
view at the end of it yeah I trusted Jeanne like a hundred percent and these
guys I mean I think there’s a point that you go why haven’t I done this for such
a long time you know and and I think like if you’re a girl with an adventure
adventure in there like spirit then you know those kind of things you your
embrace and you have to trust otherwise you’re never gonna definitely
I know sometimes when I would talk to like my my childhood friends from
America or something and I’ll tell them stories of like you know like you said
I’m sure it was a difficult struggle you know like you said you’re pushing the
bikes uphill and you know it’s like you could very easily see it as like a
negative experience but I think that’s sort of the nature of the adventurous is
as we know you know that the bad times or those difficult situations or the
challenging moments is actually part of the fun and it’s so much easier to just
laugh and like look at the ridiculousness of the situation and be
like you know what that’s what I’m living for and I think that’s part of
kind of I guess why we do what we do and why for me trying to to show people like
the I get most joy from taking people to these places that they would maybe think
was really dangerous or kind of because this Columbia is still seen as quite a
dangerous country or maybe somewhere they think this is so far out of my
comfort zone and just showing them that it’s not you
know like it’s so much fun and it gives you so much joy to kind of go to these
really remote places and and really experience something that is I guess
more special than yeah no I’m just without tourists you know somewhere
that’s completely unspoilt which is really hard to find in the world at the
moment no definitely so then culturally you know is it just a
bunch of men and then here you rock up like a woman and you’re riding horses
and playing polo how do the locals see you know you and and the other ladies
that are riding or do they embrace it well I think yeah definitely the
countries you go to very men heavy in terms of the riding so in the polo for
example when when I moved to Columbia I played polo almost every day in Bogota
and it I was I think like me and one other girl we were the first two women
to play with men in Calamba so they they kind of had other girls
that played but it wasn’t it was really not seen as kind of the thing the thing
to do we now so we’ve do the trip to we just come back with this big women’s
tournaments the women are playing with the men in a really really good level
and so it’s amazing it’s grown so much and the attitude has completely changed
from kind of five years ago and so that I mean it’s really exciting now to see
and the women kind of especially that was really good you know so you’ve got
you’ve got the women playing polo but they’re at a really good level and where
they’re actually able to compete with the men and are these Colombian women or
are you bringing up international women so it’s both or it’s both yeah it’s a
mix so and we we actually took the the first lady’s team from the UK out to
Colombia probably four years ago to play against some of these women and the
standard then was still it was like okay there was probably three or four girls
that could play really good polo and wears now so about three weeks ago there
was a big ladies tournament and there were eight teams and they were already
good Wow amazing so you’re actually sparking changed by what you do well
yeah I mean I think a lot of it is just just people seeing that it’s possible
you know and so a huge amount there’s a bot retos polo club who we we work with
out there and they are fantastic because they kind of work with the the ground
the ground roots and so they work with the kids and pushing the kids through to
become better and better which is really really exciting and also I think no one
I don’t think you’d necessarily think of Colombia is like a horse country maybe
but the passion for the horses out there and and
kind of how like everyone has got horses out there um I think for me from a lot
of the countries that I’ve been to that kind of diversity of what you can do on
horses is huge and people so we one of the things we actually do with the
people we take to Colombia is we go to the Paso Fino stables and in Colombia
it’s one of like their most prized horses is the Pasadena’s horses and I
guess the equivalent would be like going to one of the top top show jumping yards
in the UK but in Colombia they’re like this is the number one Paso Fino was
that what has one everything for the last three years who wants to ride her
Wow very cool so they’re breeding right yeah they’ve been well they they have
the capacity no competitions and and there is interesting because they have
so they won competition is judging the hall or someone competitions judging the
rider and they say when the Paso Fino horse is perfect you should be able to
carry a cup of full coffee and not drop it like not spill a drop and you try
this because the house of you knows they’re gated so they’re like supposed
to be very smooth horses to ride yeah exactly so they’ve got they’ve got a
fifth gate and it’s it’s funny because a lot of people will kind of say oh isn’t
that cool but it’s I guess it’s like the Icelandic Talt or I think of another one
but yeah so then born with it so we actually saw the foals and you could see
the Paso Fino gate in the foals as they trot around I can imagine that’s pretty
cute to see okay they’re amazing you’re just sight yeah so it’s really cool and
you can see the passion that the the Colombians have for these horses is just
well the part of the Colombians have in general is amazing
but then when you get them talking about their horses it’s you just kind of
you’re just like okay all over again so then you know back to the the first day
that you landed in Columbian you’re pushing your bike up this mountain and
you’re looking at the beautiful view you know when did you go from that to I’m
gonna you know I don’t know start a pillow thing here or ride here like when
did you make that shift of let’s live here yes so I well I spent so I spent
two weeks kind of in the jungle and exploring Columbia with gene and another
girl a medium and we just had so much fun and I think anyone so anyone that
goes to Columbia you kind of you used something about it there’s a path like
this passion that runs through the country kind of infects you almost and
the tagline of Columbia is the only risk is not wanting to leave and when I got
back to London after this trip I just kind of looked around and I mean not to
take anything away from people that have an office job but the people all my
friends and I guess a lot of the people I was working with it seemed almost to
be lying to themselves or trying to convince themselves that having this job
and getting a house and being tied to a house and you know having the money was
what life was all about right that’s somehow more important than experiences
or memories yeah yeah a hundred percent and something in me just clicked and I
just quit pretty much about a week later after coming back from Columbia I was
like nope can’t do this anymore quit and bought a one-way ticket to Columbia and
in most people you know they would justify reasons not to do that so for
example I would say the number one concern is like oh well how will I earn
money you know like you’re you’re working this steady job you have a
regular salary and then you just quit and now it’s like you don’t have any
money and you’re flying to a country you know what did you think about that whole
situation of money where you just like did you have a little bit of an S
like you know what I’ll be fine or we’re already having this like I’m gonna find
something else to replace my money income when I quit and left I had well
I’ve been saving for a house but actually at the time there was no way
even with all this money I was gonna be able to buy a house so you know it would
have been another five years so I thought well why not do something more
useful with it so I had that as my cushion and I honestly when I left I
thought I’d come back okay so I yeah when when I quit and I went kind of like
I guess in my mind and probably to calm everyone else around me maybe leave the
public local you know if the worst comes to worst I’ve got a degree I’ve got you
know years of experience in banking I can get another job yeah that was kind
of I guess that yeah never happened but I think also if you are it’s really
really hard to start something new if you have an income because to lose that
income is to is you know that it’s actually a lot harder to do that whereas
at the time I had no responsibility so I was quite young and I didn’t have a
house I didn’t have a husband or children or anything like that so there
was nothing to stop me from you know I wasn’t losing anything and I didn’t have
to support anyone but myself so I know that definitely that that’s easier and
like if I had a house and a mortgage and kids to look after it’s gonna be a
totally different story so yeah I was definitely at a stage of
my life where it was a lot easier for me yeah nothing to lose kind of a yeah yeah
no I mean I did something very similar when I I had an apartment and a job in a
truck and all this stuff in America and I just like what do I need it for you
know I got rid of everything either sold it or donated it and I just packed my
what I could in a suitcase and I left and I like you
I never went back so yeah I think it always seems more difficult or
complicated than it is when you’re living that moment when you’re working
that job or something it seems very scary yeah but then once you do it once
you booked the ticket and you just go things just seem to fall into place at
least from what I’ve experienced did you feel something like that as well
yeah 100% I think it’s if you’re open to opportunities that they’ll show
themselves to you so I think that’s maybe the biggest the biggest thing so
you kind of got and often if you if you think you’ve got this very fixed life
path that’s gonna be the one you know then when other opportunities show
themselves to you you might not even see them or be open to them because they’re
not kind of on the road that you’re meant to be on whereas if you don’t have
a fixed idea of exactly what you want for your life then when these
opportunities come come to you you kind of say okay look this is this is awesome
let’s let’s give that a try or let’s go over I mean I think I’m sure you know
from your adventures and going around the world some of the best things you’ve
ever done have been just completely out the blue and someone said come with me
let’s give this a go and providing you say you’re willing to say yes random
adventures that not planned ones those are usually the best experiences
definitely so what was your opportunity you know when you went to Columbia what
was your opportunity that you sort of saw and you took it and and it’s sort of
manifested into what what your life is now yeah so um I guess I did I did three
months out there where I was just traveling and I was mainly based in
Bogota which is the capital of Colombia and and my I mean I love to actually
really live and get to know a country and by being there and being around the
people so I started with was mainly through the Polo Club and I met a girl
out there who kind of said you know why don’t
you bring bring people out here and I also I’ve met so through the Polo Club
and the guys we now work with for the Polo and also Matt I got taken out
they’re like oh we’re doing this endurance race do you want to come I was
like mmm done endurance like they’re like you can do the kids one I was like
okay so so that was again one of these kind of you wanna come and just have a
go and so with that I kind of I went out and met all these these guys that were
they they ran a kids a kids riding camp but didn’t do any tourism at the time
and so we kind of got chatting and said you know what happens if we brought
people from the UK out here and we did some some cool riding holidays as well
and then we also had all the contacts that we’ve got in the coast we had
friends down the Amazon so I think you know we just I’d just been very very
lucky to have met all these people and seen all these incredible places and I
was like I’d love to just show people this you know and that’s kind of where
it all all started and I went back to the UK and basically went round and was
kind of like anyone want to go to Columbia and it ended some of them you
know look at you like you’re crazy like what if I go there I’ll die or you know
or a hundred percent I mean we had one we in our first year we took two groups
but we had three groups booked him and one of the groups cancelled last minute
as a student group and the parents just said no it’s too dangerous we’re not
sending our kids there and this was like two weeks before we were gonna that was
kind of a strong learning curve and then we took this polo this women’s polo
group and we took a student group that did kind of a Mick
the Polo riding and we went to the coast so that was yeah I guess our first our
first trips out there and that was kind of where it all started and was it in
the beginning was it people that you knew directly or was it people that you
had somehow convinced or how did you find these people yeah no it was
definitely people we’d found and convinced I think it’s I don’t know if
you’ve found this I like actually in the last year has been when I’ve started
taking friends and family on trips because they I think when you’re
starting it’s really hard to kind of say to people look you know this is what
we’re doing do you want to pay for it that well why can’t I have it for free that was it was it was also showing
people that this like this is a real and a thing like we cuz I really wanted to
just specialize in kind of taking doing taking people so actually being on the
trips myself so that you could really kind of explain a country and also
Colombia is quite interesting so even with like the last group we took the
stuff’s changing all the time and this is the case in pretty much all the
countries we take people to so you know hotels closed down a week before you
take people or you know stuff like people change their mind and say
actually you can’t do this activity or you know so an itinerary is is
constantly in in the flow I guess and so you’ve got to be really really on it to
make sure and I mean all always people get what they vote but just maybe not
what you booked so that’s I think that’s kind of and and just I guess be yeah
kind of telling people’s stories about your time and introducing them to people
they’re now really good friends and so that for me it’s pretty exciting I guess
yeah no that’s it’s very exciting especially because I think you know as
you were mentioning especially you know your woman and you’re trying to convince
people to pay money to do this thing on the faith that you’ve done it and and
that you’ve sort of organized and arranged everything and I think to try
and make that transition of you know as you said people paying money for that I
think yeah it can be very difficult to navigate when you’re first starting out
so do you have any like advice or what did you sort of do to make that happen
honestly I would say just gotta keep going and that sounds really crazy but
if you part of it is one if you do get people that go on the trips you’ve got
to make it amazing right so they all we have 80 80 percent retention of clients
which is how our company is grown so you’ve got to persuade people that going
with you is better than going with anyone else and so I think that’s like
once you’ve persuaded them to go that’s your you’re like make-or-break moment
persuading people to go you just have to believe in what you’re doing so if you
can like I love absolutely loves the countries that we work in i tota but
totally believe in the people that we work with and like I I mean I didn’t I
love showing people you know Columbia or Mongolia or you know these these
incredible countries and I think if if you’re not really passionate about the
place that you’re taking people then they won’t believe that they should go
no definitely and I could definitely hear you know in your voice when you’re
talking about Columbia how excited you are I mean I’m already like where can i
book my flight so I think that that’s really great and especially for women
like you said for us to go with other women and have a ladies polo match like
that is that just sounds so amazing and you know that would be I think an
awesome adventure so you go every year or you’re living there full
time or how does this work out for you know so we go
yeah I’ve been every year since I moved there and taking either so we’ve done
small small groups we’ve actually found so after we took off first groups and we
then started taking those groups to other destinations because they wanted
to go and see see some other places and and we found Columbia as a destination
has been quite hard to sell because of because people are a bit worried about
it but this as of last year and this year it’s starting again to become like
a hot or people are now believing it’s 40 yeah so it’s really exciting so
basically the last five years worth of work have now started to bail we’ve just
been out there for six weeks and we’re going back out in September and we’ve
got groups booked in for next year as well and and interestingly the group
that went just went now that when we the first couple of days they were kind of
like you know it’s really interesting to go and see Columbia and but you know we
probably don’t want to come back so would it be really interesting to know
other destinations that you do I’m sick okay by the end of the week they were
like we love Columbia when cuz actually looking to the book so some of them are
looking to come back next year and then the rest of them are coming back 2021
and because I guess one of the things is it’s not like a lot of countries it’s
not it’s really different to it in terms so Columbia’s huge I don’t know like
from Bogota to the Pacific coast is the same distance as from the UK to Germany
okay and then there’s a whole area so if you actually look at a map of Colombia
if you go south of Bogota for a while if you look at a map after like almost half
Bogota doesn’t have half of Colombia doesn’t have roads okay and you mean
like it’s not even a gravel road or a dirt road or it’s just yeah it’s
literally the Amazon jungle so or jungle and then yeah but so much of that and
and then so it’s huge and what’s also really interesting so it’s on the
equator and so it doesn’t have seasons so all year round
pretty much the weather is the same you have rainy seasons but depending on
where you are depends on whether or not you actually get affected by there and
and you can be in Bogota which is really high so Bhagat has 2800 meters and and
then you can drive down for two hours and it’s quite cold so BA guitars kind
of imagine the whole of the UK English weather in one day is what you’ll get
and is it is it like a cold rain or is it a hot rain it’s boy just bizarre so
you’ll get you’ll wake up and it could be really hot so it can be like 25
degrees so hot in terms of bata and then you go out and then later it rains like
really rains hard and then it could be cold or hot again so everyone that you
see in Bogota will have jeans on a t-shirt they’ll be carrying a jumper and
they’ll have an umbrella it’s just kind of like England actually but you can
drive two hours to one of the places we go to which is called the Jetta and it’s
tropical it’s boiling it’s like swimming you’re if they’re swimming pools
everywhere is it’s just it’s so hot and that’s just a two-hour drive and it will
be like that all year round Wow and and so you know what are the the
horses like that you come across and now you said they value their Paso Fino z–
but you know yeah in general like what are the sort of horses that you come
across and was the horse culture like yeah they’re amazing so they then
I guess that breed would be what they’ve got the purse of you know but they’ve
got the Columbian Criollo horse which I guess imagine do you know the Argentine
Creole oh yeah they’re like this cruel Mouse color yeah so they’re they’re
small I guess with big bums quite I guess like really together so don’t
imagine like a big long so already stride but really like nice and together
and they often will have a bit of passive you know in them so they’ll they
they trot but they are so sure-footed I mean and they are very very light on the
mouse so the ones we ride when we go trail riding are just amazing and so
they’re fast if you want to go for a nice canter but they’re really really
responsive so they’ll stop them without even kind of like question they have
really good lateral movement and but what’s so amazing is how short what did
they are so they can go up and down these tracks that you just never even
imagined doing in the UK and you’re kind of sat there going do I really what I do
this trip this is quite steep so the group we were just out with were hunters
so they were a group from from a local UK hunt and they they’re really really
good riders a rave right yeah right so great and so we were like hey we should
let’s make it a bit more interesting let’s make it that some of the trails a
bit more challenging and so we have like four less experienced riders we have
easier routes and then as you get more experienced we can kind of like push you
a bit more and make it a bit more interesting and these horses I mean
everyone by the end they were just in love with they’re in love with their
horses and I was I was actually really lucky so they have this big mule culture
as well which is have you ever ridden a mule I actually haven’t no okay so kind
of I guess what would you think I mule would be be like I mean
stereotypical that they’re stubborn and that they you know you’ll ask them to go
so they’ll stop or you know just something like that yeah right so I was
kind of like you know like why would anyone want to ride a mule and Janice
was like no okay seriously like just you haven’t ridden one yet like just give
them a try and I was like fine I’ll ride this mule
oh my god if I could take her home I would she was phenomenal so she was
actually she used to be a cattle herding mule I don’t even know that could happen
she was awesome she because they’re they’re really really short footed she
was fast but she she lateral movement was amazing like she was fantastic I
just absolutely loved her and and so smooth as well so her canter was really
smooth and she was a super super fun to ride and so yeah I was like I love her
and they have in Colombia in there in the south and once a year they have this
massive new festival like thousands and thousands and thousands of mules so
people will take their mules to this festival and they’ll ride for like three
days across this area of Colombia like just all these mules together like and
having a big party and it’s just is I really want to go and do that one one
day but it’s just you kind of think huh I mean they must love their mules
because they have this big big new it sounds exciting yeah so that was quite
fun so we had a couple of mules and they’re mainly mainly horses but another
lady on the ride she also rode a mule and she was just she loved it she was
riding on the first day she rode a horse but it was she didn’t get on with it so
we changed her and she we said Jorun just try the mule for today so she did
and she was like right I’m staying I’m not all of this yeah so yeah they’re all
so amazing and so yeah I think I mean the horses that
we ride for the for the tracks and stuff are really incredible I think they’re
some of the best kind of tracking horses I’ve ever ridden and just because of how
responsive they are and and then obviously the polo ponies are fantastic
but they are there a standard breed and a lot of them have been brought in from
from Argentina but they’ve got a big breeding program out there at the moment
and some of the first young horses from Colombia just played in the US Open so
it’s a huge kind of deal for them and their their Colombian bred polo ponies
so that’s really exciting and then yeah I guess you’ve got just your standard
because they’ll they will have imported a lot of horses which would be kind of
the show jumpers and all of that kind of stuff and but if you’re looking for a
real Colombian horse you need to get a Colombian Criollo and
they are super super fun to ride Wow so you know I know in my travels I’ve
had situations where you know because of horses I felt like I got to see the
country in such a unique way that I think normal travelers wouldn’t so do
you have like maybe a story or something where you had a moment like that like
wow you know if not for horses I never would have done this or been here or saw
that ya know for sure I mean I think I think part of it is kind of how you
interact with other people as well so when you’re if you travel with with
people in a car or you know anything like that you kind of get or even like
other forms of transport and people are often going at different paces if you’re
walking for example but or if you’re in a car or motorbikes whatever you can’t
really talk to each other as much whereas on horses there’s something
about being on a horse that relaxes people I think so you know you’ve got
the whole day to relax enjoy and ride and so people start having come like
much more kind of conversation between each other which i think is one of the
really really cool things I loved about about going on these these riding
holidays and it’s usually like deep serious conversations too it’s not like
yeah and so you really get to know people and and that’s what one of the
things that’s super well because you know you start the day you get on a
horse and you know that’s it for the day right
whatever you’re gonna see or explore is yeah it’s gonna be because you’re
because you have the whole day ahead of you you’ve got no phone signal most of
the time so you know everyone’s having this this great time I’m official the so
the ride we just did is pretty extraordinary in terms of of what you
get to see because you start off in these low lush valleys and I mean I
guess the comments from people is pretty much I’ve never seen green like this and
because Columbia doesn’t get season so for the whole year you’ve got this
perfect kind of environment I suppose and so the grass is this lush lush green
and then you kind of start climbing up into the mountains and you go through
forests and these part I mean yeah I guess if you wanted to hike them that
would be probably the only other way you could do it but you’d never cover the
same distance that you can you can cover on horses and that’s the beauty of these
horses and and as you get higher and higher the landscape in Columbia is
incredible and there’s no one else around so you can kind of see these
little farms and but other than the locals that really live and breathe and
the countryside there’s this just us and if you can tell that because if you ride
past for example a country school the kids all like jump up out of their seats
and run outside to see you and your horses so then they’re obviously not
used to save all these Wessels kind of thing gallivanting through
but for me the the really special bit which would be incredibly hard to do any
other way than on the horses is it’s this desert is it’s a mountain desert
that’s just just in front of a place called be to deliver so as you’ll you
have to climb up like really high up into the mountains and you come back
down it’s obviously quite kind of slippy so I think even hiking there are bits of
the child I was like there’s no I can even do this on my feet like I’m glad
I’ve got like my mule and it’s so beautiful because I would none of us
know why sure there is a reason but this mountain range doesn’t get rain and it
hasn’t had any rain for the last 60 years so I think 60 years ago is
probably the first time it had anything but if you look across to the town of
Buda labor if you look on the other side there is tropical rainforests ok so
you’ve got this it’s just kind of its comply cam mind-blowing slightly bizarre
contrast and it’s just so beautiful and it’s really it’s interesting because you
kind of think desert you’re like it was quite boring flat and nothingness but
this is incredible because it’s all up in the mountains and you can see for
miles and miles miles and I think that was probably all of our favorite day
because it’s just such a contrast and and you just there was no one who’s dies
in the mountains that was it we saw no one else and and are you guys camping or
what’s the sleeping situation No so we it’s great actually
so we stay in old haciendas so they’re like traditional farmhouses so we
completely got them to ourselves we actually one night we stayed in a
monastery which again we were the only people there and it’s just I mean it’s
nice because you’re staying you if you chat the guys that over and these
haciendas and stuff stories they have a fantastic and the
beds are really comfy so yeah I mean it’s it’s kind of I would say it’s
definitely not really high-end luxury but it’s really nice so they’re they’re
like really beautiful traditional old farmhouses but you’re staying in yeah I
guess because the traditional so it’s this is again where kind of tourism is
kind of catching up with Columbia but the colombians the way they used to do
these routes it would be is called the caravan route so that kind of go from
bullet are all the way up to be to the labor because Peter Delaney used to be
the original capital of Bogota and so it’s quite a good I not the route we
take on the horses but I guess for the travelers so the places we stay in
they’d have stayed in similar places along the way but they’re all crammed in
so you just be imagine having like bunk bunk beds and all the rooms and stuff so
a lot of the rooms will we only ever put two people in a room but they’ll often
have like three beds and you’ll be like why is there so many beds in this room
but yeah and what we we have this amazing shaft called Danny and he is
just a genius so we’ll have picnic lunches up on the mountains and he’ll
meters with beer and wine and something that he’s cooked which is always
delicious and then in the evenings we get incredible soups and you know
home-cooked food we have steak you know the food is really really good and how
long are you spending in the saddle actually well we longer than you think
so I think we did 36 hours and six days so
it’s average of six hours a day and are you guys covering a lot of ground or is
it because it’s so I don’t know rocky terrain or yeah um it depends on the day
so cuz all the days are really different like some days you get to have a lot
more countering and whereas some days obviously it’s tricky with the terrain
so that then we’re obviously covering slightly
less less distance birds I don’t think with we covered that far
mmm not actually sure what it is in kilometers
I can definitely find out place yeah it’s like six is six hours roughly in
the Sun each day and I think the first day I don’t know if you experienced this
when you do your rides but like the first day it’s usually the worst wrecks
your bum is kind of getting used to being in the saddle for that long and
then after like day two you’re fine yeah and are the saddles like the
traditional saddles or are they English saddles or what do they use in Colombia
yeah so super interesting and they think the guy owns the farm he as his
University project actually made all the saddles that we use so he specifically
designed a saddle that was perfect that was the most comfortable for the horse
and the rider so it’s this kind of hybrid western saddle and so but it’s
really really concrete so it’s got loads and loads of padding in but it’s very
light for the horse and it’s got a I guess it’s got a bar on the front so in
the western style and yeah so it’s it’s and it is they’re sort of like what the
locals what are they riding in I mean so yeah
the locals they they have a traditional Western sorry and they have a
traditional western saddle as well so that’s more like I guess you’d have yeah
Western cattle riding okay now chose style yeah exactly
and then obviously if they’re showjumping they have the show Diamond
saddles polo but I guess the traditional kind of countryside saddle and would be
your western saddle okay so you’ve traveled to uh you said many other
places and now you’re kind of reaching out to others what are maybe some
you’re obviously you love Columbia do you have any other like favorite
countries that you enjoy riding I think probably after Columbia it would be
Mongolia have you ever been there yes of course Mongolia yes it’s definitely a
special place so what is it that you that you loved about Mongolia I think
it’s the openness of the of the country so I don’t think I found anywhere else
in the world for me I mean you’ve got kind of like
the Kazakhstan regions those kind of places are quite similar but Mongolia
there’s just the horses are such fun to ride like they’re so tiny and you can
just go for miles and miles and miles and miles with nothing no fences yeah no
fences no walls nothing you just constantly like going for yeah for such
a long distance and the horses can you know carry you for really long distances
and there’s I don’t know I guess I’d be we’ve been going there for four years
now and it’s just it’s one of those countries that people go to and they
just I don’t think they can even if they’ve seen pictures and and you know
videos and everything they they just can’t imagine it being like that but
just yeah I don’t know I agree it’s one of those you have to go there to really
experience it you know have you ever had a difficult situation or something that
was maybe scary that happened in a travels and then what did you do to
overcome that that situation I think I think we in terms of just personally or
with with when I’m traveling with other people in general probably traveling
with people is in itself a challenge on its own no I think I think usually the
situation’s I get myself into when I’m by myself so stuff I might I’m like this
seems like a really good idea and then later you kind of go was that I do and
it usually works out in the end and ends with a really good story so I think the
one that probably pops to mind most is when I was in Columbia the first the
very first time went to visit gene we went to Cartagena and which is isn’t
that like known for being kind of a sketchy place no Cardenas um cotton is
lovely so it’s kind of is probably the most touristy place in in Colombia okay
so it’s in the Caribbean coast and I tend to try and avoid it because just
because it is so touristy so I kind of think if if you want to go it’s not
particularly difficult to do on your own and but we went and one of the nice
things to do from Carter he knows to go out to to the islands and and way to
ride were really tired and when we got up we said okay when’s the boat going to
the islands and they’re like tomorrow like oh okay so so we when it’s town
just kind of went oh well nevermind and this and this Colombian lady came over
like a big mama she was like hi girls do you wanna you want to go to the islands
were like this is fate like yes let’s go I so read aboard a couple of bottles of
rum and when I got in a taxi with this lady which in itself was a bit dumb like
off we went and gene was like now the marinas like the other direction oh okay
well where are we going and she did in fairness take us to this like this Bay
and it had yeah so it was it had all these fishing boats these two big guys
were like yeah okay we’ll take you in this tiny boat so in we hopped who more
like I’m fine right wait you’re – you’re two ladies getting on a sketchy fishing
boat yeah and no red flags are waving at this point it’s not gonna get us that’s all good
this trip is meant to take like 20 minutes and so we’re off into the into
the sea so off we go like bobbing along and after about 40 minutes we can’t see
land anymore just like what is going on at this point neither is spoke very good
Spanish so and then the guy in the front grabbed a lifejacket and lobbed it to
the guy in the back and put one on himself but didn’t it was anything see
in the distance this like little boat like bobbing towards those and it’s got
black sails this is the end ship exchange kind of the portrait bobbed
past and didn’t actually do anything so I think the guys were obviously in the
boat worried that it might which is why they put their own lifejackets on it and
then they were gonna bail and leave you ladies to fend for yourselves yeah we
managed to get to not the right island we were on a very different beach with
no tourists which actually ended up being lovely but we managed to find a
couple of hammocks and we had a big party so ya know it was one of the best
nights I’ve had in Colombia cuz we went swimming in the sea and and the plankton
plankton was just there was millions of them so you’d like moved your hands
through the sea and the whole sea would just shine oh yeah it was it was a
pretty incredible night and also the fact we’d survived I think we’re on and
then how did you guys make your way back off of the island we merged we actually
well cuz we were properly stuck at this point because there are no boats get
taking us back so we had to get in we managed to get motorbikes like for an
hour to this place where we could get this ferry across so somewhere
we had to get a tax it was just it wasn’t actually I thought back with my
mouth but we got there good wow sounds amazing yeah it was fun so do you have
any sort of last I don’t know advice or final things tips for ladies that might
be interested in traveling to Colombia yeah I think one don’t don’t be scared
like it’s an incredible country it’s definitely definitely worth doing I mean
get in touch and with that would be really really happy to help you with any
questions that you’ve got about Colombia so I think kind of getting a bit of
advice about where to go and how to do it’s always helpful but my advice would
be go don’t don’t miss this one there’s so much to see in Colombia and and we do
I think that’s the thing like if there’s something specific you want to do and
the really nice thing about Colombia is it’s always possible you just have to
ask perfect very good and where can people reach you or find you or follow
you yeah absolutely so I’ve got a website called adhara adventures and we
can put a link I can give you a link for that and then either via email or phone
can we put put a link on for those or yeah I can put some links in the show
notes definitely do you want to just maybe spell adastra just so people can
yeah sure and so it’s A D A S T R A and then adventures yeah go go have a
look on there and just feel free to get in touch I’m always happy to chat about
Colombia and kind of give you some advice and yeah see if we can get you on
an adventure out there well great thank you for for coming on and sharing your
stories and it was very nice talking to you and we will definitely keep
following along on your adventures fantastic thank you so much. Did Kat’s
story make your feet itch? Do you want to find amazing horse riding places all
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