Editor’s Note: Trish Lemke is the founder of Joy Rides. She leads horse riding excursions around the world and is a certified Martha Beck life coach. Lemke lives in Durango, Colorado, with her family and horses. She is part of Camp Cayuse, a program in development. This dreamy essay covers a trip Lemke led in northeast Spain. This year, she offers trips to Scotland and Italy.
I wake up in the morning to a sore butt and a stiff back. My body groans a little bit as I roust myself out of my cozy, little bed in the 1,000-year old farmhouse where we’ve been staying. The owner greets us on the veranda with homemade pastries, fruit from the garden, eggs from her chickens and rich, dark coffee. She also greets us with stories – stories of her past, stories of her culture and her land, stories that have us yearning for the simplicity of a lifestyle that has long since past for most of us, but still lives determinably on here, in the heart of rural Spain.
We all agree that we could sit and listen to her all day. But the horses are waiting for us down in the pasture and even though it’s hard to leave such a warm and authentic place, we’re all excited to go. Go and adventure. Go and explore. Go and play.
It’s Day Three of a week-long ride across the northeast of Spain. I’m incredibly enchanted by the diversity of landscapes here. One moment, we’re meandering our way through a medieval village, listening to our horses’ hooves echoing off the cobblestone streets and ancient walls, waving hello to the locals that come out to watch our procession. Then, suddenly, we’re back into the countryside winding through acres upon acres of apple trees, with orchard workers running up to offer us a sample. To this day, one of the best apples I’ve ever had is the one that I shared with my horse on that quiet ride through the groves.
We travel through bigger towns and I feel incredibly grateful for my trustworthy riding companion. He takes me over bridges and along streets where cars and trucks and bikes are going about their normal daily business. We pass shops and restaurants and houses. People are eating. People are working. Little kids are running after us shouting and laughing, while other tourists just stare. I always imagine them wishing that they were spending their vacations like we were: truly immersed in the country on the back of a horse, slowly, joyfully and full of adventure. It’s quite a contrast to being whisked around from site to site in a bus.
There’s something about traveling for on horseback that connects you to a deeper part of yourself. You get into a rhythm. With your horse, with your traveling companions, with the land and with yourself. It feels as if your body remembers this way of moving from times long ago and that sitting astride a horse, is the most natural of places to be.
All too quickly, the last day arrives. Many miles have been ridden. Many laughs have been shared. So many delicious meals have been devoured and maybe a few too many glasses of wine have been consumed. It feels bittersweet to be tacking up my horse for the last time. I don’t want to say goodbye. It feels like this is my life now.
We end our ride on the coast. We get up early in the morning, before the sun, so we can be on the beach for sunrise. The horses are a little edgy with our headlamps shining in their eyes, but they quickly settle in with their buckets of grain and flakes of hay.
We tack up in the dark and leave the pasture like riders in the night. An hour later, we are greeted with a spectacular sunrise and a deserted beach. The horses are anxious to run. They love it here. You can feel it in their energy and in their eagerness to move their bodies. We humans want to run as well. It’s a collective energy that surges through the group and as we let them fly with the wind, it’s the only place that I want to be.
Who’s ready for a trip of a lifetime? I have a few spots left for Scotland this summer. You know you want to come!
Be safe, be well and as always, Happy Trails.