Mike Barker kicked off his Globetrotting career with a safari ride in Kenya’s Maasai Mara. Now, anyone who’s experienced that ride will agree that it sets the bar pretty high! Here at Globetrotting HQ, we were more than a little curious about which holiday Mike would book next. But when he chose the Scottish Borders Ride, we knew he’d have a blast!
Check out Mike’s entire feedback form below:
Were there any stand-out experiences (good or bad) with the accommodation that you would like to mention?
Cringletie Hotel was delightful. A charming, cosy, relaxed and stylish home away from home. The rooms were large, immaculately finished and so comfortable. The staff were always helpful and fun and there were plenty of whiskeys to choose from, as one would expect. A beautiful example of stunning Scottish estate architecture and atmosphere.
Were there any stand-out experiences (good or bad) with the meals that you would like to mention?
I thought the food was excellent throughout the stay. Tasty, fine dining, but homely and filling as well. I did love the little picnic bags they made for us on our riding days – great sandwich fillings for my taste!
But the highlight was the Scottish night. A true feast, and we were honoured to share in Scotland’s traditions.
Please tell us how satisfied you were with the quality of horse(s) you rode.
Ecstatic! The horses were predominantly Irish Draught. There were so sturdy and fun to ride.
In respect to your guides, please elaborate as to their level of service, knowledge of the environment and hospitality.
Gemma was our lead guide on all the rides. A great horsewoman, person, mother, and a fun personality to be with. She knows all the horses intimately and their likes and dislikes – seriously impressive. She was great to chat to and gave us excellent information about the countryside, its history, the traditions and life in the Scottish Borders, and of course the Common Ridings and their history.
Susy, who runs the equestrian centre, is a wee gem of a lady. You can just see how much she cares for all her horses and that the Globetrotting guests get a truly amazing riding experience. She’s not one who stands for any nonsense – from horses or people! Her passion for horses, Scotland, the Common Ridings and for doing the right thing by people is contagious. Several times during the trip, I had thoughts of packing it up and coming to live and work at Susy’s stables and being part of that wonderful life. And Susy is tireless with her exemplary work ethic.
And finally, I have to mention Helen, our tour admin extraordinaire. Helen was super organised – and did a great job of organising us – and she has a funny, dry sense of humour and witty stories to recount.
Did you have a favourite day or experience while on your Globetrotting holiday?
I had my first beach ride on this trip, so that was a personal highlight. Galloping along the wide open beach with the ‘Chariots of Fire’ movie theme song ringing in my ears is a lifelong memory for me now.
But you cannot go past the Common Ridings. Ours was at Kelso. A truly unique experience. Where and when can you ride with a130+ other horses and riders, all roaming through rolling hills, vast cropped fields, country laneways and towns, cantering through the countryside, while supported by vibrant local communities who watch all along the route and dress in their best finery? A dream day. So much so, I have booked The Scottish Borders Ride again for May 2023.
In terms of value-for-money, how would you rate this particular ride?
We would LOVE a testimonial about your Globetrotting experience to share on our social media channels.
Well what can I say about the Scottish Borders Ride? Kate Pilcher and Laura Rae said I would love it and have a ball. And how right they were!
Neither words nor photos really give you the true sense of joy, freedom, warmth, contentment and excitement that this whole experience gave me. That bond and emotional connection you get with your horse, and then with the earth while riding over it, is so good for the soul. I wish one could bottle that up and take it home.
The scenery in the Scottish Borders is beautiful. You ride up over the hills, down into the valleys, through farms, forests, rivers and estates, and into towns and villages. It feels as if you are going back in time to when the horse was the main form of transport, but with the comforts of modern life!
Gemma was such a magnificent guide, friend and organiser, looking after us all. Susie, who manages the stables, is a beautiful horse lover, great host and such fun to chat with. Helen, our tour admin guru, was so organised, happy and always energetic.
Galloping along the beach with the theme tune from ‘Chariots of Fire’ ringing in my ears was a highlight. But the pinnacle of the week was the Common Riding. Riding with 130 other horses and riders, all dressed up in fine regalia, starting in the town of Kelso and riding out behind a pipes and drums band to a big community reception, then galloping through fields and across country lanes all day. Where else in the world, literally, can you do that? What a heartwarming day and lifetime experience! So much so that I have booked to go back in 2023 and do it all again.
Finally, a Globetrotting trip is nothing without the friendships you build meeting fellow horse lovers. I had a ball on my trip with eight women from Texas. I learnt, laughed, rode, ate and drank heaps with them all. Thank you Lindsay, Steph, Tara, Shari, Knoxy Knox, Emma, Jen and Jessica. It’s awesome to know you all now and I’ll see you in Texas next year.’
If you’re eager to learn more about the Scottish Borders Ride, click here.
Or click here to read a Q&A with Mike about his life with horses and introduction to the world of Globetrotting.