“As I squatted down in the dirt, trying to make my decision, he stepped toward me, gently pressing his nose on mine until our foreheads touched, from that moment I knew he was the horse for me. Getting to this stage was hard enough but what lay ahead I could never have imagined.”
“Six weeks earlier I had arrived in Cartagena, Colombia searching for a horse. Leads turned to dead ends or poorly cared for animals. As the end of each day gave no results I wondered why in a country where horse is King I could not find even one. Clutching at straws I agreed to meet a young Colombian man who told me he could help, even though he looked more likely to supply me with coca than a caballo. Meeting on a street corner he pulled up on a motorbike. Speeding through the streets on the back of his bike, his Brylcream covered hair slapping me in the face I expected to be heading to the surrounding countryside but no. Deeper and deeper into suburbia, all the while him ignoring my questions. Eventually we stopped in the middle of a badly rundown housing estate and as I jump off, several more guys appear from a battered shack – “ven y mira” they invite me, “buen caballos para te gringo” Nothing about this felt right but screw it, I went in. As I walked in I heard the stamping and snorting, like the equine equivalent of walking into a garage full of revving Ferrari’s. Horses worth tens of thousands of pounds, mostly stallions pacing as much as they could in their tight stables. The air thick with the smell of sawdust and these testosterone filled horses. I tell my new friend that these horses are not what I need, that I need something a little calmer – seemed more appropriate than telling them I was not interested in stolen horses. This did nothing; they pull out the first – a stunning 15 hand Colombian Paso Fino, almost golden in colour, in immaculate condition, the kind of horse that would fetch £20,000.00 back home in England. They saddle him up and jump on trying to keep him still, telling me he is “tranquillo” as he is rearing up on two legs. I ask how much “$5000.00 for you my friend” I tell them this is way over my limit, the price drops by half, eventually it is $1k but still I am not interested and they are getting more and more agitated. I ask about the papers, no problem I am told, he is legal. I eventually get them to put the horse back into his stable. I take one more look in there, mostly out of curiosity, a little to appease them. Telling them thank you but they are too much for me, I will have to think about it. Three of them surrounding me, trying to intimidate me into a purchase, asking what can I afford, how much do I have. Getting closer and louder, watching the gap between them close I just laughed, told them maybe tomorrow and pushed my way out, blinded by the intense midday sun beating down as I open the door. I see the guy that had brought me – I tell him I would walk and didn’t look back.”
“I eventually found Red in a field North of Medellin, he was skin and bone with a shaven mane and an attitude. Our first night camping together was a disaster, unable to get him to settle in a small wooded area I sat up with him all night until I passed out, only waking to see just his head collar hanging from the tree I had tied him to. Soon his character and sense of humour began to show. Sleeping by my side, waking me early by either using my hammock as a scratching post or slobbering all over my face and head, picking up his feed bowl and throwing it at me if ever it was empty. For several weeks I spent all my time with him, training, saddling, grazing, we raced through woodlands and open plains until one night when I knew it was time. I had been stalling for days, knowing that he was as ready as he would ever be, it was not him that needed the preparation but me. All these years I had dreamt of this and here I was on the edge, what I was waiting for I have no idea, nerves maybe, but on the 9th December 2014 we set off. Destination Peru.”
Next week the full first two chapters are to be sent to publishers in the hope to secure a deal so fingers crossed. For now I am working in the UK, getting together the funds I need to be re-united with my friend and continue our journey together. I have made some updates to the site and as always welcome any comments. Also if anyone wishes, the project is still very much alive and your support is always appreciated. It has been a great start to 2016 and is amazing to see that with your kind support we are making a positive difference to lives around the world.
Thank you all for reading,