When we received Judy Calder’s feedback on her first ever Globetrotting holiday, the Glenorchy Back Country Ride (which she undertook at age 66!), we knew there was more to be unearthed! So we sent her some questions, and boy are we glad we did. This woman’s lifelong love of horses is truly inspirational, and will undoubtedly strike a few chords with those of you weren’t fortunate enough to grow up surrounded by these beautiful creatures! Read on to hear Judy’s story in her own words.
What is your day job?
I’m now retired but during my working life, I started a company called AgriTravel. We arranged study itineraries for international groups wishing to learn about New Zealand’s agricultural and horticultural industries.
How have horses influenced or changed your life?
I think I was born loving horses! Everything about them is a delight – their look, their smell, their strength, their personality, their eyes and their physical ability. I am totally content when I’m around horses.
What is your earliest memory of horses?
Riding donkeys on Prestatyn Beach in North Wales as a four year old! It was the highlight of my summer holiday each year!
What was your childhood pony called?
Didn’t have one – living in England we couldn’t afford one! However I used to save my pocket money and went to a riding school once a month for an hour’s ride. I also used to ‘borrow’ my Mum’s carrots and cycle down to the local riding school where some ponies were kept in a field. I would just gaze at them and think ‘what if’. After school I used to volunteer at the riding school (where all the horses were stabled) and help with the evening feed, watering and mucking out. I worked there for a couple of years and never once got to actually sit on a horse! I also joined the local horse rangers branch and managed to get a ride about once every month.
In my early teens my summer holidays were spent pony trekking in South Wales, and after my tertiary agricultural studies I went to Australia for a year and travelled around the country milking cows and being a jillaroo – wonderful experience!! I returned to the UK, but a few years later when I was 25, I emigrated to New Zealand. Within 12 months was able to purchase my first and only horse, TJ, a 15.2 hand high ‘mixed breed’ grey, aged 7. He cost NZ$300 and he came complete with his summer rug! My life felt complete!
TJ stayed with me for the rest of his life until he died aged 29. We had a wonderful time together and took part in many disciplines including One Day Events, endurance riding and hunting (although there are no foxes in NZ). Nothing has ever come close to the sheer exhilaration of galloping over a hunt field and sailing over jumps knowing your horse is enjoying it as much as you! Life got in the way and after I lost TJ I didn’t replace him, partly due to time restraints and also as I aged, I guess my confidence level dropped and I didn’t know if I could ever trust a horse again as much as I trusted TJ. (Until I met Doobie!)
What was your first Globetrotting ride?
The Glenorchy Back Country Ride.
What made you take the plunge and sign up for a Globetrotting holiday?
I booked this trek on a whim. I saw it advertised in a Sunday travel supplement. I had always wanted to experience outback New Zealand on a horse and decided to take the plunge with much encouragement from my husband. I am 66 and felt if I didn’t ‘do it now’, I would never do it.
Was this Globetrotting ride celebrating or marking a significant moment/milestone/achievement in your life? If so, would you mind sharing?
Having booked the trek, I then started to have doubts. I hadn’t ridden regularly for over 20 years, apart from 1 or 2 hour hacks whenever I returned to England. Hence I was absolutely NOT riding fit. After watching and reading all the Globetrotting literature (which was excellent) I started to ride about 6 weeks prior to the trek and completed a few 1-2 hour treks (not enough!). I was a little nervous about the ride, thinking I had bitten off more than I could chew, but as soon as I was aboard Doobie I felt relaxed and in my happy place!
What is your most memorable Globetrotting moment?
The trek was the most wonderful experience and to choose a most memorable moment is impossible. I guess galloping across the paddocks will always be a highlight. The scenery was simply stunning, and the sheer vastness, and the beautiful, clean, natural environment was a pleasure to experience.
Why choose this type of travel? As in exploring a new place from the back of a horse?
Being able to access New Zealand back country on a horse seemed like the perfect combination. It was! The whole experience, including riding with a small group, camping, tending to your own horse, and being off the grid for a few days – sheer bliss.
Can you tell us a little about Doobie, your faithful steed on the Glenorchy Back Country Ride?
Doobie, my trusty steed, was truly wonderful. I fell absolutely in love with him and he gave me back my confidence within the first day. A big gentle giant. A true gentleman and the type of horse I wish I could have bought after TJ died – he would have been perfect.
A tip that every globetrotter should know before going on a ride…
Be riding fit, particularly if you have been out of riding for some years. I should have ridden more and did have to rely on a regular dose of Ibuprofen! Get some long rides in if you can, as this will definitely enhance your enjoyment of the trek. BUT I can definitely say that age is no barrier and I will continue riding as and when I can and for as long as I can.
Finish this sentence – Don’t leave home without…
An open mind, and be ready for the most wonderful and unforgettable experience. Thank you, Globetrotting – the experience was everything you said it would be and more.