Campfire Story by Minna Kulmala from Finland
My most memorable trail ride was last summer on the Island of Horses. I put a halter on one of the horses and went for a two hour bareback ride around the 80 hecatres [about 200 acres] of island. All the horses decided to join us, and there I was, swimming with a herd of nine horses to the other island and back. The horses were roaming free around me in total harmony, sometimes stopping to eat and then trotting behind us to catch up. It was truly a memorable experience that I will never forget.
I've always been drawn to horses, and started going to a riding school when I was eight years old. After five years of circling in the arena, I had enough. The only thing that kept me interested for that long was the trail riding camp I went to every summer. When it came down to it, all I really wanted to do was go out for trail rides and spend time with the horses.
I wasn't riding at all for a while. I occasionally took care of friends' horses and rode out in nature exclusively. I wanted to create a bond with the horse I rode and that was difficult to do in busy stables. It got even more difficult when I transitioned into bitless and barefoot riding.
Three years ago, I found a bitless and barefoot trail riding place in Spain called Cortijo Los Lobos (a featured We are Trail Riders community member). I volunteered with them for five months and have returned twice! I took guests for trail rides in the breathtaking mountains and olive groves. Some of the horses were rescued from poor conditions like being hobbled in a field for days without water. Luckily, Cortijo Los Lobos gave them a second chance at life, and we spoiled them! It was here that I started practicing barefoot trimming.
Last summer, I saw a video of a man who had 9 horses living on an island in Rovaniemi, Finland. They were all bitless and barefoot, too! I was so excited, that I contacted him immediately and asked if he needed help.
The next thing I knew, I was living among the horses in my tent with my two dogs—my ultimate dream! Most people dream of a vacation in the Bahamas...but I've always dreamed of living in a teepee with free roaming horses around me. This summer, I'm back on the same island of horses, and I actually get paid to live my dream. It's quite mind blowing!
For me trail riding is the best therapy—I forget all my worries when I'm on a horse. The saying "Horses lend us the wings we lack" describes the feeling best. Sometimes I worry too much about the horses, but I always try to ride as soft as possible and give a lot of love and affection to the them. You can find me most often laying on the ground with the horses, barefoot and drinking my morning coffee.
A big thanks to Minna Kulmala for sharing her trail riding adventures with the community.
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