Before returning to Spain we looked for an authentic riding experience, one where both my wife (an experienced rider) and myself (a novice at best) could enjoy the amazing scenery that in land Costa del Sol could offer. We trawled website after website and found them all (bar one) to be the typical “tourist attraction advertisement”. They offered amazing rides along beaches etc etc yet they were worded in such a way that you could blatantly see that the “authentic riding experience” would make you feel as though you were part of a package deal, or just another person with euros in your back pocket.
Ride with me - Ride in Spain was different in every way. From the first contact with Carol we knew we were dealing with someone who was not only passionate about what they were doing, but also passionate about her clients receiving a truly authentic experience with only one goal. For us to enjoy every moment and remember it forever. Her reply emails were well worded and carefully constructed to ensure we understood them as well as them understanding us. We knew that Ride with me - Ride in Spain was our only choice from the plethora of other equestrian trekking centres available. We booked for the Monday evening 2 hour Sierra Blanca tour and made our way over to Coin for 7pm. Upon arriving we were greeted with the most friendly rescue puppy you have ever met, Carol made herself over and introduced herself to us, no expensive gadgetry and pompous welcome, a solid grounded and refreshing “hola” and I knew immediately we were in good hands. Carol introduced us to her “menagerie” 3 rescue dogs, a family of cats and there was even talk of two goats! Entering the Nacimiento Carol chatted away and got to know us as well as letting us get to know her. There was no rushed feeling, there was no feeling like a number, there was purely the feeling that we were being cared for. We chatted about her herd and ours! We chatted about her history and also Kalle’s, who we yet had to meet. Through the curtain out of the Nacimiento I could see three beautiful Andalucian horses tacked and ready to go, western tack with Spanish Vaquero saddles sat atop these glorious animals and they stood patiently waiting. Then in strolled Kalle, a Swedish/Spanish Modern day Cowboy is how my wife referred to him and he sure was that. With all four of us in the room we learnt that the horses were all rescue animals. Either found or donated to the couple who spent time rehabilitating them back to health and riding fitness. My wife and I were in our element, not only was everything going perfectly but to learn that the care and attention that these two wonderful people were putting into their livelihood was beyond par.
“Are you ready?” said Kalle, yes we were. Out we went and we were introduced to the other horses, 4 more beautiful Andalucians, 3 typical greys and a dark bay, oh and a Shetland with the best attitude ever! In trotted the goats too! We were shown the saddles and tack, it was very refreshing to see such a kind and natural approach, all horses were ridden in hackamores (bit-less bridles) to ensure that more heavy handed novices like myself would not cause any unnecessary harm to the horses mouths. We mounted with the wife first on Alegra, me second on Cisco and Kalle leading on Serrano and we were off (well not quite I meandered off around the yard for a moment as Cisco teased the novice on his back) towards the forest and up away from Coin we headed towards the Sierra Blanca. Kalle expertly explained the best way to me of how to ride Western and was also a mind of information about the local habitat and history. Pointing out different things and landscapes which had been determined as far back as slaves during the Roman Empire. Kalle turned in his saddle and matter of factly said “now we go for a gallop yes?” and that we did, three Andalucian horses galloping across the Spanish mountain sands has got to be one of the most exhilarating things I have every done not to mention that that was my first gallop ever! The wife’s grin was from ear to ear, being experienced i thought that maybe this trek would be a little mundane for her, but the gallop had just turned the tables, this was something we were both absolutely loving! Up we went through winding forest and beautiful scenery until we popped out at a point on the Sierra Blanca where you could see all the way to the coastline and the mountains in the background! Wow! I will never forget that for as long as I live! Kalle had all the while been telling us different things, I’ve been coming to the Costa del Sol for the best part of 12 years and I learnt more in 2 hours with him than I have in over a decade.
The descent was just as amazing as the ascent, leaning back into those amazing saddles we made our way down the mountain on these magnificent sure footed animals. Not missing a stride, not relenting and not making me, a novice feel unsafe we headed back towards the forest, another gallop at the bottom and we came into a clearing and to our left the sun had started to set. The scenery was breath taking and to be a part of this atop a horse even more so. Kalle grinned and asked us to ride side by side, and then came the
command “kick!” And we were off for our final gallop of the evening, and what an enjoyable gallop it was, I’d found my stride and rhythm and the feeling was beyond exhilarating! Kalle sped past one hand on his reins the other holding his mobile phone videoing the whole experience! Feeling on top of the world we slowed and made our way back to the Nacimiento and dismounted our steeds. Lots of pats and “good boys” whilst the wife helped Kalle tether them near their hay and we went inside for a cold drink! Carol was waiting for us and was just as excited as we were about the whole experience. Her smile said it all, she cared and loved that we had had an amazing time.
Kalle and Carol are superb hosts, the partnership is beyond compare and their little bit of paradise in the Spanish countryside is there for everyone to enjoy, if I ever manage to be half the horse man that Kalle is then I never need worry as the connection this man has with his herd is second to none. We plan on returning soon and when we do we will be calling Carol ahead to book again! This you can guarantee!
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