My friend Denise Harris of Triple J Ranch in Issaquah, WA made an interesting proposal to me earlier this spring. She said she and others are interested in Horses for Clean Water offering trips to other countries, kind of like taking horse farm tours to another level. Since I always like to hear my audience’s ideas and perspectives on things, I listened to her suggestion and have been pondering it.
As some of you may know, earlier this month I was in Australia for three weeks. I was fortunate enough to be there for work; I taught classes for two different natural resource organizations, one in New South Wales and the other in Victoria. Thanks to the combined efforts of many, many friends who took care of our place while we were gone, Matt was even able to come with me - and he actually taught a Ranch Riding clinic there too.
Anytime I teach, but particularly in another country, it's an opportunity to learn new things, either about the world around us or how we can become better horse keepers. In many ways, Australia is ahead of us as far as its care for the environment; they almost have to be, as they are really at the forefront of climate change.
Australia is a country the size of the United States, with a population the size of California. The majority of the country gets very scarce rainfall so fresh water is precious and they are aware of conserving natural resources. It is a very outdoorsy, wild place with unique animals and plants - and such wonderful people. I was told by several Australians that Australia is referred to as “Horse-stralia,” in reference to how horsey the country is. It is fun to visit a country that is noticeably interested in, and in tune with, horses.
While I was there I kept Denise Harris's idea in mind and began researching it, thinking that Horse-stralia might be a good first tour for a Horses for Clean Water International Adventure. Brainstorming with my Aussie counterparts Down Under, we came up with these ideas:
Horses for Clean Water International Adventures, farm tour extravaganza ideas:
- Victoria Horse Tour – discover the horse industry in and around Melbourne, Australia. This tour would include attending the famous Melbourne Cup thoroughbred race held in October, which is spring in the southern hemisphere. Some of the sights and horse place we could possibly see would include members of the Australian horse industry and colleges or universities with equine science programs. Then we would visit on-the ground horse properties: boarding facilities (called agistments in Australia), training facilities and others.
- Tasmania Tour – Would you like to see a Tasmanian Devil in person? Visit some amazing horse properties, tour the Healthy Horse Healthy Land Expo held each year in April, and see the rugged wilderness of this Australian island state.
- New Zealand Tour - New Zealand’s sheep industry is where our American methods for rotational grazing were derived from. Meet some sensational, talented young horsewomen who have become rock stars in New Zealand and learn about New Zealand’s wild horse population.
- Kangaroo Island and South Australia - take a ferry ride to visit a remote island off the south of Australia to see amazing wildlife, as well as island horse life. Visit several large horse operations there. Return to Adelaide to tour Australia’s wine region and learn about Horses SA, a vibrant and innovative horse organization which is changing the way Australian horse owners think about horse keeping.
Let me know your thoughts! I would love to hear whether this would be something you'd be interested in, or if you have other suggestions or ideas on how to formulate such adventures. In the meantime happy spring - I am sure we're all looking forward to going full swing into our horsey-season ahead!
Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness—Mark Twain