Almost everyone knows the song… the words are true:
‘You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes well you might find
You get what you need’
The challenge comes from a different angle than expected. Living without hot or running water and without a toilet is not hard at all. Riding and walking with constant pain in my legs - a rather large step from manager to bushgirl - is shocking but not the biggest problem. Challenges on the road such as huge tractors, swamps, steep hills and dead-end paths can be tackled and overcome.
But night after night sleeping near a horse that is so clearly uncomfortable in himself, is a no-go for me. We agreed beforehand that the three of us should have fun together. Mark, Timo and myself. That was the condition... otherwise we would stop.
And one of us does not like it. Whilst riding during the daytime it’s great fun. Timo walks his 30 km through woods and fields with obvious pleasure. But the nights are terrible. He is frightened of the surroundings and frustrated because he can’t move as freely as he would wish to. We have tried our best for him... built his paddock near trees or in open spaces, with plenty of sun or plenty of shade. We slept outside directly next to him. None of it helps. So all three of us sleep far too little and our stress levels build. It’s unsustainable. Of course it is possible to lock Timo in the horsebox or tie him up but this does not take away his fear. And that is simply not what I want for him. It's heartbreaking to look at your horse and say to him, I’m sorry boy, but this is what the boss wants and you’re gonna damn well do what I say.
The physical side is easy to manage. Timo is always keen on eating and he drinks wherever he is. The miles are no problem for him. His instincts as a prey animal are not manageable. The only sustainable solution would be to get another horse here and take it along. And we do not want to do that.
The people close to me know what the original purpose of this trip is. It's not about delivering a performance or achieving a goal. It’s an adventure to discover myself, with two of my dearest friends. Because of all the stress of the last weeks there is no chance to rest. My coping mechanism is to keep pushing myself to a performance - to focus only on the goal. The show must go on. But what actually has to happen is 'to let go'... More than I have already. Not only work, the children, family and our other animals. But also the care for a horse. MY horse, my best friend. And to say that that is very difficult is a massive understatement.
In short, after 303 km (188 miles), we decided to let Timo relax in a field for a few months at Hanneke and Hein’s farm in Hamneda. We’ll continue our journey without Timo. We're gonna miss him so much. But he clearly does not have a problem with this plan (see video).
It has been a beautiful experience, we learned a lot and have thoroughly enjoyed it. Thank you for your support. There will be no more horse updates on this website.Interesting adventures we share on the facebook page. And I would like to say to everyone who enjoyed following us: follow your dreams and make them come true. You might end up in a different place than you were heading for. That makes life interesting.
Timo is my hero, my friend, my dearest possession. But mothers know, there are days where you want to shoot your beloved ones. Like today.
Mark put out a comfortable paddock for Timo at our beautiful camp in the woods. Very close to the tent so that the 'herd' could sleep close together. After the usual four hours paddock walking we went to bed nice and early. Even Timo went to lay down, which means he's completely at ease. At 4.40 pm I suddenly heard a "kedoeink, stamp stamp" and I knew immediately, our guy walked through the paddock wire. In my panties I struggled myself out of the tent where I could just grab hold of Timo. He was looking for the water bucket. Och honey, I said, are you thirsty? I provided water, gave a bucket of SpeediBeat and another 6 kg of hay in the paddock. The paddock was up again and I placed Timo back in it. "Mark, ga back to sleep, it’s ok,”I whispered as I climbed back into the tent again. Three seconds later I heard "kedoeink, klink, stamp stamp stamp stamp stamp. I turned around and just saw a black tail disappear. Mark!!! Wake up, he's gone ... ..I was perplexed .... what's this?
Mark quickly struggled himself out of his sleeping bag, pulled on a pair of pants, got the mountain bike off the Discovery's roof and cried out: "Pellets, we need pellets, SpeediBeet does not make a sound when it’s in a bucket. And Carolien, put on a pair of pants! " I still stood frozen looking at a disappearing Timo. Mark cycled after Timo and after I put on some jeans I ran after them on foot. The most terrible scenarios played in my head; Timo in a swamp, Timo smashed under a big lorry, Timo violating one's garden, Timo disappeared forever ....
After a minute or five, I saw Mark coming up with horse with his head in a feed bin. As I ran there my tears dried up. Mark said excitedly: "Well, in any case, it's a good story .... A little adventure is ok as long as this has been the most exciting part.
The paddock was a mess and I put a chair in the middle to hold Timo while Mark repaired the wires. But our dear darling did not agree. He remained restless and slid me and my chair across the ground to the exit. Ok, standing up then. When everything was restored, I let go of him and positioned myself in front of the exit. All seemed quiet again. Mark started to make some coffee and I turned around.
And then my robust Welsh Cob realized that he did not need the exit at all. With his 500 kg he stamped firmly to the other side of the paddock to just pass right through it without hesitation, dragging the wires and poles with him. And gone he was. Mark jumped straight on the bicycle with a bucket of feed but Timo looked back and whenever Mark came closer he walked further off. Until Mark placed the bucket on the ground and walked backwards. Then Timo trotted to the bucket to rob the second kilo of sports feed of this morning.
Mark and I looked at each other: "This is it, no other choice than to saddle up and ride for the day. So I rode of at 05.50 without breakfast but with bright sunshine through the woods on the way to Hanneke & Hein. They only expected us that night but it seemed that we would arrive at 9.30.
Fortunately, Hanneke and Hein were at home and we were warmly welcomed. Timo could live in a beautiful large meadow with trees and big stones behind the house. Next to him (with a few meters of space and a bush row in between) was the paddock of Arabian breeding stallion Gribo. The horses greeted each other with loud voices. Timo walked around and after a few minutes we left him alone. Until 30 seconds later we heard Hein calling out in a concerned voice: "Come! They fight! " Hanneke and I ran back and what do you think, Timo rekoned that he also did not have to respect these wires and went straight through them. Fortunately no physical damage was done on either horse because the stallion was still on the other side of a fence. But still it was a huge shock to me. Hanneke and Hein are not impressed so quickly and built an extra fence with power on it. After that is was all ok.
But we are facing a serious problem right now for which we need to find a solution tomorrow otherwise we can not travel any further. Today we went shopping for a portable electric fence. We found one and will test it tomorrow. But apart from the practical problems, the worst thing is that I lost my trust in Timo. We are investing so much energy to sleep close together. We totally depend on each other, the horse needs us as much as we need him. And then he just leaves….It feels like a personal rejection in this situation. We are clearly not yet a herd. I know, one comes across oneself and I’m emotionally unstable. This is just a minor setback but I did not expect it to hit me as hard as it does. Now we sleep, tomorrow is another day.
Keep you updated
(Photoalbum link to Dutch update page)
After 5 days on the trail we arrived at Dorthe’s stables in Perstorp, a true horse paradise. The lat few days – from Sara’s stuga until now – have been real ‘woodland-days’. Sometimes through endless forests and sometimes alongs small roads for miles on end. Yesterday a part of the route was on a 15 km long gravelroad that lead us through valleys and past the most lovely Swedish houses and farms. I wonder how often people leave their property in this area. If a simple drive to a supermarket takes at least a 30 minute drive this won’t be on a daily basis I rekon.
A couple of days ago we were the first guests in the guesthouse of Ann & Bärra Andersson. A lovely place with kitchen, bathroom and living room. Guests can take their own horses. So if you ever consider a vacation with your horse to Sjöbo this is a nice place to stay. For more information, please contact Bärra directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
The day before yesterday was a tough day. In strady rain trying to navigate with a non-waterresistent tablet is not simple. It turned out my route was only for hikers, not for horses. The swamps are a no go for horses. That meant I had to find my own route through this area. Around 14.00 h we decided to call it a day and made camp on the parking where I happened to be when Mark came to see me. Timo was pleased with his paddoch very close to the tent, car and horsebox, everyone together.
The consequence of this early halt was that I had to ride 41 km the next day to Dorthe’s stables. Luckily it turned out to be sunny and it was easy navigating. Timo and I left camp at 08.15 h to arrive in Perstorp at 17.00 h. A long ride but is didn’t bother Timo at all. It is truly amazing how much with pleasure this horse works and how easily he adapts. This is not the flat country as in the Netherlands, it is up and down the whole day. And Timo happily walks away mile after mile and he is only a pain in the … when I ask him to stand still. The Easyboots are fantastic, I wouldn’t know what to do wiithout them. Good thing is that Timo’s feet show no signs whatsoever of wearing boots. Véry happy about that.
This weekend we take a two day break so Timo can rest, Mark can reorganize the car and I can reorganize the equestrian equipment. Timo has a huge field to himself where he can eat as much as he can for a couple of hours a day. And we camp at the wonderful lakeside in the 10 ha fields of Dorthe’s horses.
It happens to be that Dorthe is a certified natural trimmer, yes yes!! So she can take a look at Timo’s hooves this weekend.
Tonight there is a bbq with stablemates and friends. Looking forward to some company and sharing stories. See you soon.
We still can’t quite believe it all - but we’re on the road. It’s actually happening! We sat in the car the whole way laughing like kids and pinching ourselves to see if it was true. It was hard to take in.
The weirdness is that we have to really let everything go… where are we going to end up? How’s the trip going to go? How will the animals be at home without us? Will the kids be ok? Will our house be sold over the summer whilst we’re away? And then where will we go? The art of letting go is not so simple… for the simple fact that it pushes us outside our comfort zone(s). And this was the intention - to go somewhere and take it as it comes.
And whatever comes to meet us on the road, the experiences of the first six days can never be taken away from us. On FB you can see the daily updates… and here is a quick glance back at the first week.
The drive to Denmark was rather stressful, to say the least. Mark’s baby, the ‘Disco’, had an immediate and demanding test: 400kg in the back, 1200kg behind it and a 600km drive. And me: my ears pricking up at every sound from the horsebox. We stopped every couple of hours to give Timo water & SpeediBeet (fibre in the form of beet pulp)... because a horse will not eat much hay on a day such as this.
Our welcome in Denmark was way above expectation. Whilst we’d prepared for camping in a paddock, Gisela Dethlefsen (the Pavo distributor in Denmark) had laid on a guest room for us. We had two days of being spoiled rotten with delicious food and a ‘make yourselves at home’ attitude. As a gesture of thanks Mark & I felled a damaged tree they had standing between the summer house and the pond. It’s a good feeling to be able to give back to those who have been so generous in helping us live out our dream.
Whilst it is generally well-known amongst travellers, for me it’s totally new to experience people’s generosity and helpfulness on the road. It actually began before we left with a lovely goodbye from the PennyPlusClub ‘girls’ (my group of friends in Markelo)... then in Denmark and here in Falsterbo, it just continues… It seems that people have a genuine pleasure in being part of this adventure. Accepting help is something that we really must learn.
Falsterbo Resort offered us a stuga so that we could spread the word about their renewal of the camping site here (it was formerly Ljungens Camping). The new owners took over in January 2017 and the results are already showing - they’re doing great work. On the coast with all the luxury facilities, including indoor kitchens consisting of six brand new ceramic cookers with ovens. From our stuga (with kitchen and shower-room) we can see the sea and every evening a cuckoo comes by to feed on the grass seed that’s been sown over the newly laid out pitches.
The hospitality doesn’t stop at the stuga… Timo has been given a wonderful spot in a local private stable where he’s totally fussed over. It’s great. He spends the day in his own grassy paddock and is brought in in the evening together with the other horses. At home I’d leave him in the paddock overnight but if he’s out here on his own, then he’d get restless. It’s better for him to be near the other horses. He’s pretty much at home here already.
The highlight of the week was the Falsterbo Food Festival today. Per Wildenstam, an active member of the local (business) community, invited us to follow the route between the ten participating restaurants. On foot? No. On Timo! With Mark along on his mountainbike. It was a great success, allowing locals and visitors to get to know the culinary offerings of this small place. As patience is not Timo’s most developed virtue, I was having my doubts about it… and here, again, came a spontaneous offer of help in the form of Erik Raabe, mounted on Sam the Irish Hunter. These two gentlemen were my most courteous guides. Anyone who knows Timo knows that he really doesn’t care for another horse alongside - he’s usually overly dominant and they have to stay well out of his personal space (read: 3m out of his way, out of reach of flicking back legs and bared teeth). This time, however, it seemed that he allowed the calm of Sam to infuse him and let himself be led along by this graceful gelding. I’m so proud of my brave and adaptable horse. And the icing on the cake was: today was the first summer’s day in Falsterbo with wind force 0.
The outdoor life is still a day away but we have so enjoyed the warm showers and comfy beds. If you enjoy the sea, friendly welcomes and open spaces, then you’ll love Falsterbo. Tomorrow we’re going into the woods. ‘Til next week!