As we aren’t able to join all our guests on each riding holiday we offer, we LOVE getting to live vicariously through your stories and photos when you return from a ride. And after coming back from her recent adventure through New Zealand on the Glenorchy Back Country Ride, I think it is safe to say that Julie Debono is HOOKED! With riding as her passion since she was little, it just made sense to Julie to put travel and horses together into a crazy fun trip! Interested to know more about this keen globetrotter? You can find out more below…
What is your day job?
I work full time as a Practice Manager for three really amazing doctors on the Gold Coast… which certainly keeps me busy!
How have horses influenced or changed your life?
I grew up on a farm with lots of horses and ponies…. so I rode them every day of my life for about 15 years, including five years of competition riding (at pony club and local show level) competing in dressage, show jumping, flag, bend and barrel racing as well as three day eventing. I got married at the age of 19 and moved from the farm, and as a result only rode a horse about five times over the next 35 years. I have done a “Snowy Mountain ride” in 2013 and now the Glenorchy Back Country Ride in 2017. Riding is my passion and it is my mission in life to continue on with riding as much as possible.
What is your earliest memory of horses?
We had an old black pony when I was about three years old called Bonnie. My older brother (four years old), my sister (five years old) and I used to ride her all the time…. sometimes all at once! She was bombproof and we learnt to ride her bareback through creeks and up and down hills. I smile when I think of that lovely, patient old mare that we used to climb all over as kids.
What was your childhood pony called?
For my 14th birthday I got the best present ever when my parents bought me a Welsh Mountain Pony mare named Sugar. She was lightning quick through the flag and bend races. We spent time together every day before or after school and she was just about my best friend in the world.
What does riding or being with horses mean to you?
Riding is my happy place. I feel far more comfortable on the back of a horse than riding a pushbike!
What have horses taught you the most?
I suppose a deep appreciation and gratitude for the incredible times I have spent with many horses in my formative years. I feel blessed to have all those wonderful memories.
What was your first globetrotting ride?
My first globetrotting ride was the Glenorchy Back Country Ride. To say it is spectacular is an understatement. The scenery on this ride has a “wow” around every corner. The horses, the helpful and informative guides, the food and the itinerary were all beyond amazing! I tell everyone about this ride and have even convinced a non-rider to take a look at the website and give it a go!!
What made you take the plunge and sign up for a globetrotting holiday?
I saw a little video clip on Facebook about globetrotting and followed the link to the website. I sat mesmerised for about an hour looking at all the different rides available and I just knew I had to do a ride… the tough part was picking which ride to do!
Was this ride celebrating or marking a significant moment/milestone/achievement in your life? And if so, would you mind sharing?
It was my birthday present to myself. On the day of my birthday we rode through fields of lupins of pink, purple, blue and cream and I just couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. I thought to myself, I am not getting a bunch of flowers today, I have got an entire field of flowers for my birthday! I will never forget how happy I felt.
What globetrotting rides have you since completed/going to/wanting to complete?
I have only been back from the Glenorchy Back Country Ride for about 4 weeks, so when I have more holidays owing and dollars in the bank, I will be planning the next one for sure.
What is your most memorable globetrotting moment?
Every day had it’s own ‘wow’ factor. We cantered through fields of lupins and forests of beech trees and shallow river beds and up mountains. We even jumped logs. I loved it all. But my real ‘Wow, OMG, pinch me’ moment was when we took the saddles off and swam the horses bareback through a glacial pool of beautiful blue water. I had not swum a horse since I was a kid, so this was just heaven for me.
Why choose this type of travel? As in exploring a new country from the back of a horse?
I had been to New Zealand twice before… once for skiing and once on a cruise ship just visiting ports for a few hours. I had seen how lovely the countryside was, but I had not really been able to spend much time in any one area. With Globetrotting, we rode about 150 kilometres around Glenorchy and we had the time on horseback to be able to really immerse ourselves in it and really appreciate all that unspoilt wilderness we were in.
Who is your favourite safari horse of all time and why?
I rode the wonderful Doobie on the Glenorchy Back Country ride. All his show ribbons are on display behind the reception area when you arrive at the yard at the start of the ride. I was so pleased to find that I was riding this champion horse and he certainly did not disappoint. He was big, strong, surefooted and a perfect gentleman, and he had plenty of get up and go when needed, which I love.
A tip that every globetrotter should know before going on a ride?
Get yourself saddle fit! I did listen to all the videos Kate sent through and I read all the material, which was extremely helpful. Because I sit for eight hours per day in an office and I don’t own a horse, I knew I was going to be very sore if I didn’t improve my fitness. Kate recommended pilates, yoga and as much saddle time as you can get, which did help with those aching muscles. I also recommend ibuprofen and lots of good New Zealand wine!!
Finish this sentence – Don’t leave home without…
Your camera!! I took hundreds of photos and am so pleased that I have these amazing memories to look back on. Secondly, take a great attitude and be willing to pitch in and lend a hand wherever needed and you will return from your holiday with some wonderful new friends and the best memories and stories to tell of your adventures.