Meet globetrotter Niccola Phillips! After kicking breast cancer to the kerb, Niccola decided to celebrate life through a horse-riding holiday to New Zealand on our Glenorchy Back Country Ride. And we couldn’t be happier for her! She’s found a new lease on life and loving every minute. Keep reading to find out more about this inspiring globetrotter.
What is your day job?
I work as the Head of Art at one of Australia’s biggest advertising agencies. That means that I spend my days doodling, shooting (with cameras), designing and dreaming.
How have horses influenced or changed your life?
They keep me real. My day job takes me a long way from anything you’d call normality, and it’s pretty easy to lose perspective. Horses keep me grounded. They remind me that I need to be strong, gentle, kind and to stay in the moment.
What is your earliest memory of horses?
I’m a city kid, so horses were pretty mythical to me. I had a couple of tiny soft-toy horses and I tacked them up with cotton hanky saddles and hair elastic bridles. It took me until I was nine to befriend a proper ‘pony club’ girl whose parents would take me out on the occasional ride with her.
What was your childhood pony called?
My imaginary one? Cully.
What does riding or being with horses mean to you?
Everything. As you’ve already gathered, even as a teeny-tiny little girl, I somehow knew that I loved horses. But horses were way outside my family’s budget, so I promised myself that one day when I was all grown up had the funds, I’d learn to ride properly. Things got a bit messier from there—I was diagnosed with breast cancer aged thirty so that kiddy promise that I’d made to myself came to mean so much more. I got through the treatment and horse riding became—still is—my gift to myself. It gives me solace when things get tough and that makes me almost impossibly happy.
What have horses taught you the most?
What was your first globetrotting ride?
The Glenorchy Back Country Ride in New Zealand.
What made you take the plunge and sign up for a globetrotting holiday?
I’d been riding a couple of years, mostly in the arena, and it felt like I’d reached a bit of an impasse. I wasn’t having as much fun anymore. And there was this recurring childhood dream of me cantering through an icy stream in an epic glacial valley that I needed to get out of my system!
Was this GT ride celebrating or marking a significant moment/milestone/achievement in your life? And if so, would you mind sharing?
I’d say surviving cancer. But really, on reflection, it was more about celebrating life. Which is something that we all need to do more of, wouldn’t you agree?
What globetrotting rides have you since completed/going to/wanting to complete?
I’m pretty sure I’ve seriously considered each and every one. I just need some generous benefactor to offer me a job that allows unlimited time and funds for globetrotting. Any takers?
What is your most memorable globetrotting moment?
My beloved horse wives (they know who they are) will tell you that it’s got to be the time I took an icy dip in a glacial stream while taking my maiden bareback ride. There’s a video. We’re all still laughing. My gorgeous horse Peso maybe not so much. She’s probably still rolling her eyes and telling her herd-mates about this idiot named Niccola who dived off her back with no warning whatsoever.
Why choose this type of travel? As in exploring a new country from the back of a horse?
Because seeing the world between the ears of a horse gives you a heightened sense of everything. There’s no distractions, few obstacles, and of course, that wonderful feeling of unity as you become one with a strange horse in a foreign land.
Who is your favourite safari horse of all time and why?
Peso remains my dream horse. A Clydie-cross NZ station-bred with kind eyes and a warm heart. She was up for absolutely everything. She never faltered. And right from day one, I felt entirely safe. I trusted her completely. She let this ignorant, neurotic city girl climb onto her back and gave her first gallop, her first bareback ride, her first log jump and her first (somewhat unintentional) fully-clothed swim. Pretty please, may I keep her?
A tip that every globetrotter should know before going on a ride…
Be present; it’ll be over so much sooner than you think. Oh, and don’t forget the bug spray!
Finish this sentence – Don’t leave home without….
Your sense of wonder! Clichéd but oh so true.