Every little girl's dream
Updated: Feb 16, 2020
Riding along a beach at sunset on your Arab stallion.
It's the stuff of dreams, right?
Well, dreams can happen if you make them.
I spent my entire childhood dreaming about racehorses, winning the Grand National (that didn't happen, by the way) and while my girl friends at school adorned their bedrooms with 'Take That' and "East 17' I decorated every inch of my bedroom wall with posters of a grey horse - Desert Orchid - and newspaper cuttings of the 2003/4 National Hunt championship battle between Richard Dunwoody MBE (my hero) and Adrian Maguire (not my hero).
I spent my dinner money on the Racing Post and went hungry as a compromise. After all, jockeys were hungry all the time...and I was going to be one!
Riding in races was a dream and there can't be many people who realise their dreams.
My first race was a 3 mile steeplechase - always one for diving in the deep end - and I was proud as punch to be in the shake up and not disgrace myself.
Young girls who dream of horses watch films like the Black Stallion over and over again and the film always chokes me. Not because it is sad - but because the beauty of the horse depicted in the film is so astounding.
A couple of years ago Rich and I headed out to Morocco with the promise of a sunset ride on some Arab horses on the beach. It seemed to good to be true. Rich had a few riding lessons at home and we headed out.
I believe learning to ride is best done in the real world and not an arena going round in circles.
Rich found his balance and despite one tumble and half an hour trying to catch a very spirited Arab who had the whole west coast of Africa at his disposal, we were soon cantering along the beach at sunset and playing in the warm sand dunes with our sure footed steeds.
A few days later, still hungry for more, Rich took a quad bike and a camera while I met up with Achraf, a young Moroccan boy who made his small fortune by offering up his Arab horses for us western women to enjoy.
I missed a good old burn up so Achraf and I met up and had races up and down the beach, fetlock deep in the Atlantic Ocean. Nothing, absolutely nothing, beats it.
This spring, I invited a couple of caving friends - Faye and Nicky - to join me on a four day trek in Morocco.
We trekked around farmsteads, galloped along miles of empty beaches, swam with the horses in the sea, met wild camels and ate round a camp fire on cliff tops and slept in bedouin tents. We ate amazing food, the horses had at least 4 sand rolls a day and we enjoyed stunning coastal scenery.
We rode through a small village where some children were returning from school. They soon accosted us and were thrown up onto our steeds to get a welcome ride home. Well, to their open air swimming pool which is where they seemed to spend their afternoons.
How lucky, I thought. While these children were clearly poor, they took enormous joy in riding an Arab stallion home from school and then taking an afternoon dip in their pool. They were happy, joyful children and I envied their childhood.
There really is a sense of freedom when you are galloping along an endless beach with the wind in your hair and sand in your face. Just you and your Arab stallion. And perhaps some friends who understand what an amazing feeling it is.
Thank you to Equivasion in Essouira for yet another incredible adventure.