This blog post is written my one of the lovely humans working for Hooves Around The World: Luzia Montag.
I started riding like probably every girl in Europe - I was obsessed with horses since I could remember, my walls were covered with Wendy posters and I wouldn't leave my parents in peace until they finally enrolled me in this riding school around the corner.
Unfortunately, this riding school around the corner was anything but good - did I mention I grew up in Berlin? Not a very good place for riding schools and horses. I don't think I need to say anything about the conditions in which the horses were kept, except that they were absolutely not okay.
As a small child, however, I could not evaluate this very well, so I learned there all the basics that should be mastered as a rider. It wasn't until I got older that I realised what a monotonous life these school horses actually led there, and from that point on I couldn't look past it anymore. So I stopped riding at the age of 13 - I sat here and there on the horse from time to time, but I did not make any real progress. Until I graduated from high school at 17 and after that I was overwhelmed with life - and my mother was overwhelmed with my overwhelmed-ness.
Logical consequence: the child needs to go to Africa. And for this decision I am infinitely grateful to her until today. When I finally arrived in Namibia in southern Africa, I was 18, but not a at all more grown up than when I was 17. Fortunately, the ranch where I was to spend the next 3 months was a 'Western Riding Ranch' with about 80 horses, which lived more or less free in the African wilderness. So quickly I came back to riding and suddenly I learned Western Riding as well.
In short, these three months were the best of my life! I spent my days training and getting the horses ready for the trails, leading guest rides, taking care of people and horses on the 10 day trails and falling in love with Africa. For anyone who loves riding and traveling, or has a moment in life where the daily grind just gets to be too much, I can only recommend doing just that: pack up, head to Africa, enjoy the animals and nature, and return "new".
From that moment on I was riding regularly again at home and the wanderlust for Africa had become a part of me. 3 years later I returned to the same ranch in Namibia and from there on I traveled once a year to different countries in Southern Africa, as I did during my first stay in Africa - always by myself.
Over the years I did internships in South Africa, riding in Big 5 areas and being a back-up guide on safari. I ended up in Mozambique, galloping on gorgeous sandy beaches and training horses for future safaris. I worked in Tanzania for an animal rescue centre for pets and wildlife which also offered safaris on horseback, and finally I lived in Botswana in the middle of nowhere in the bush discovering the wilderness on horseback.
I could rave for hours about my time with the horses in Africa, but I think that would go beyond the scope here - all there is to say is, every single ride you experience in the African wilderness is a "once in a lifetime" moment, it's the greatest adventure you could ask for and it's absolutely addictive. Traveling and working with horses abroad has become my greatest passion and every year my wanderlust drives me to new countries. After I finished my studies in business administration and equine science, I ended up in Switzerland. It's not that exotic, but at least I work with horses - in a rehabilitation centre for sick, old and injured horses.
And the next destinations are already planned.
By the way, through all my internships I also got to know Sanne. Even though we were never in the same place at the same time, our destinations were always the same - so in the end we couldn't help but get to know each other. And as it is, the same passion connects...
Luzi will be accompanying Hooves Around The World's Lycian Way trail in Turkey next year, and she is happy to help you with all your questions!
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