the plan

"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans"
John Lennon

Who in his youth had gone
Walking on the crown of the road
Under delectable trees
And over irresponsible moors
To find the rainbow's end
Louis MacNiece

back to the fairly big ride


back to ride open spaces

Ever since we were young and poor and life was simple, we’ve talked about doing a big ride.  Now we’re old and poor and life is complicated, we’ve finally decided to blow all our savings by actually doing it.  Afterwards we’ll be even older and even poorer but that’s fair enough; we are, after all, going for an enormously long holiday.  

Thanks to Mr Tschiffelly, and Mancho and Gato, we had, of course, talked about doing a ride in South America.  Then, after a climbing trip to the Karakorum we spent a few days on a bus across the Pamirs to Kashgar in China – all that rolling grassland of the steppes made us think about riding to Asia.  It should be pointed out at this stage that we’d never even considered not taking our own horses.  For one thing, we’re very fond of them and wanted to spend some quality time with them.  For another thing, if they ever found out we’d just jetted across the world somewhere and had a huge holiday with other horses…well, they’d never forgive us.  

So that ruled out South America – we couldn’t afford the airfare for two adults and three horses – and despite saving up for a long time, we hadn’t saved long enough or hard enough to be able to get all the way to China and back.  However, a quick look at the map revealed that about half way to the East was the Middle East.  This seemed about right for those twin party poopers: time and budget.  So there it is, we’re heading in the general direction of Syria/Jordan.  For Audin, Hannah and Sealeah, this will be a deep and meaningful return to their Arabian roots.  For Lisa and me, this will mean going to a very hot place with lots of sand – but you have to put the horses first.  

It’s always good to have a plan, even if you don’t stick to it precisely.  Ours (see map) involves Wales, England, France, Italy, Slovenia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Syria and Jordan – blimey, that’s eleven different dictionaries.  Although there are several British riders in recent times who have completed long trips in Europe, the most common approach has been to travel abroad and ride back home.  We aren’t aware of many who have set off from Britain with their own horses.  I guess there are advantages and disadvantages with both methods.  Luckily we didn’t have to worry about choosing; our three insisted on coming along.  

The only other part of the plan is to try and stay as high as possible, not by taking loads of drugs (although that would be a lot easier and probably cheaper too) but by sticking to the mountains as much as possible.  We all love the mountains but Sealeah, in particular, needs to put the hours in if she’s to qualify in her chosen profession of Alpine Guide.

If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.
Woody Allen