Creating a horse and nature sanctuary in Italy


Traveling the world, riding horses everywhere I went, working with horses as much as possible and meeting inspiring trainers and horsemen has been great for the past seven years. At some point, however, I think we all long for a place to call home. I’ll never stop traveling, but won’t be traveling as intensely anymore. Read about what kind of home I am looking to set up for my horses and myself. 

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What about all the horse riding holidays?

Let me start by expressing how much I actually used to travel. I didn’t have a place to call home for the largest part of my seven years of travel. When I returned to the Netherlands every now and then, I didn’t have any connections to the country. All my friends lived abroad, I didn’t have my own horse to spend time with or any horsey friends, and I felt disconnected to the people I worked with as I would normally only work in some grocery store for a few weeks before leaving for Africa again. Needless to say, my colleagues in the stores didn't really connect much with my stories about riding horses in between rhinos in South Africa. Of course, my family was in the Netherlands and I loved visiting them, but it just wasn’t home for me. So, creating a home in Italy just means I’ll be traveling less, and being able to come home to my horses and other animals in between our meet-ups and horse riding holidays together! I’ll still explore new destinations, and add on more meet-ups for you all to join me on, so no worries. I just won’t be spending over ten months living out of my backpack, hopping from ranch to safari barn to riding school every few weeks anymore. Several trips a year to attend our fantastic trips is still obviously the plan!

Property in Lazio, Italy
One of the properties I viewed last time I was in Lazio, Italy

Nature conservation and self-sufficiency

I fly a lot, and while I always compensate for the carbon emissions, I certainly do want to fly a lot less. If you’ve been following Hooves for a while, you’ll know that I am incredibly passionate about conservation of wildlife and nature. Even though I am aware of the very positive impact these horse riding holidays and safaris have on local communities and conservation projects, I still want to make sure I can limit my flying, and have a greater positive impact on the world. In Italy, Lazio specifically, I want to set up a sanctuary for my horses, other animals, and nature. Naturally-living horses provide a great opportunity for lots of biodiversity. My horses will live, graze and roam freely around the four hectares (ten acres) of land, stimulating diversity in flowers and plants, and of course fertilising the land! They’ll live together with the livestock, such as sheep, goats, and just a couple of cows. Other plans are to dedicate one full hectare to planting indigenous species of plants and trees, to stimulate wildlife to come and make their homes safely in the forest. I aim to become as self-sufficient as possible, and provide a safe haven for local wildlife. Of course, there will be an extensive veggie garden, and lots and lots of adorable chickens running around. I can't say I will be completely self sufficient, as I'm afraid I'll have to buy fantastic Italian wines in the village.

Views of the mountains in Lazio
One of the property's views in Lazio

Will we be able to come horse riding in Italy at your home?

As of right now, I am not entirely sure yet. I do know that I want to be able to accommodate my dear friends and family as soon as possible in my new home, and of course go horse riding with them. I am also currently looking at the options of organising horse riding holidays for small groups here. As this will be my home, groups will be kept small and intimate, and horse riding holidays will only be held here once or twice a year, so we can enjoy each other’s company, relax, and really take in the environment around us. This horse riding holiday will likely be one that can be booked by people I’ve already met on our meet-ups. So if that’s you, I can’t wait to welcome you soon!

So, what’s it going to look like? I definitely don’t have any floor plans I can show you just yet, so in the meantime, have a look on Pinterest to see what some of my ideas for the place are!

Pssst! If you’re in need of some positive environment and conservation news after all this nature-talk, have a look at my all time favourite non-horsey instagram account: Sam Bentley

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