Wendy Macken has a newfound passion for Globetrotting holidays, having ventured deep into the Aussie bush on The Kimberley Ride and far into the African wilderness on our safari ride in the Okavango Delta, Botswana. She very kindly took the time to answer some questions about herself and her Globetrotting adventures.
What is your day job?
I’m a small-time Warmblood breeder but I work as a Nurse in the evenings to ensure the bills get paid.
How have horses influenced or changed your life?
Horses have been my passion since I can remember and have had a huge impact on my life. I have ridden all my life (well, since I was 10). I competed rather than travelled in the early days, but now I can do both, I’ve never been happier. My move to country New South Wales from Sydney was to follow my dream of having a horse in the backyard. Now I have them in the front yard as well.
What is your earliest memory of horses?
I love their smell and gentle eyes and I’m not sure why, but I’ve always been drawn to them. I was told it was just another ‘stage’ and I’d grow out of it, but I never did.
What was your childhood pony called?
Despite begging my parents for a pony every Christmas, I never got one. Being one of 10 children at the time and living in Suburbia probably had something to do with that. I eventually brought my first horse, Sirahan for $1,000 in my 20s. He was advertised in the Telegraph classifieds and proved to be a great endurance horse but not a showjumper. He taught me heaps.
What does riding or being with horses mean to you?
Riding and being around horses makes me happy. When you’re schooling a young horse or trying to educate an older one, everything else fades into the background. It’s a great mindfulness exercise.
What have horses taught you the most?
To be kind, soft and patient – at least that’s what I try to be.
What was your first Globetrotting ride?
The Kimberley Ride last year. I loved it so much I investigated other trips and Africa came up as one of the best rides to do. I have always wanted to do a safari there, so when I heard you could do a horse riding safari it became a ‘must do’ trip.
What made you take the plunge and sign up for a Globetrotting holiday?
I love travelling and love riding, so it’s the perfect holiday for me. It’s also a great motivator to get fit, lose those 5kgs and stay as young as possible. It’s a fabulous way to see the countryside and I love the adventure and challenge of riding in different countries.
Was this Globetrotting ride celebrating or marking a significant moment/milestone/achievement in your life? If so, would you mind sharing?
Well I had paid off my mortgage, and after many years working hard as a nurse it was time to enjoy the fruits of my labour. I just wanted to have more fun in my life and get back to doing what I love.
What Globetrotting rides have you since completed/planned/dreamed about?
I’ve just come home from Botswana and the Okavango Delta ride was the most exciting and absolutely fabulous time of my life. The riding was fast-paced and it was so much fun galloping through the water of the Delta. It was challenging but offset perfectly by luxury camps, fantastic meals and great guides. It felt like we’d wandered into Jurassic Park as we were surrounded by wildlife. Elephants, lions, buffalo and wild dogs, all of whom could kill you in an instant. However I never felt unsafe.
What is your most memorable Globetrotting moment?
The ride to Mok camp was my favourite day. After riding for about 4 hours in the morning we had a long lunch break where we could lie down on stretcher beds and rest before the afternoon ride. We then rode bareback and swam the horses across the river into camp. That was so much fun, but we were all aware of the possibility of coming across crocodiles and hippos, so it was tinged again with just a little bit of danger.
Why choose this type of travel? As in exploring a new country from the back of a horse?
It gives you a completely different perspective on a country and you get to explore places off the beaten track. You also meet like-minded people with a passion for horses and travel. It’s my perfect holiday.
Who is your favourite safari horse of all time and why?
That would be Lillytrotter from Botswana. She was a pleasure to ride and I trusted her from the moment I sat on her. She was an African breed and had such kind eyes. I rode her for 3 days from camp to camp.
A tip that every globetrotter should know before going on a ride...
Get as fit as possible, but keep faith in your ability to rise to the occasion. Be brave and take the plunge.
Finish this sentence – Don’t leave home without…
Your sense of fun and adventure.