SEE THE WORLD FROM A SAD­DLE

‘HIGHLY AD­DIC­TIVE – EN­TER OR AP­PLY AT YOUR OWN RISK’: THAT IS HOW KATE PILCHER DE­SCRIBES THE LIFE­STYLE THAT TAKES HER ON AMAZ­ING AD­VEN­TURES YOU CAN ONLY EX­PE­RI­ENCE FROM THE BACK OF A HORSE

Life & Style Weekend - - READ - WORDS: KA­RINA EASTWAY

ASK most peo­ple what’s on their wish list for the new year and the an­swer in­vari­ably (if not im­me­di­ately) gets to travel.

De­spite our love of ‘home’, as hu­mans we ex­pe­ri­ence an in­nate need to ex­plore and dis­cover to chal­lenge the pre­dictable day-to-day.

A truly en­vi­able life is one which achieves a bal­ance of these two: a sense of fam­ily and be­long­ing with the abil­ity to ex­plore the world in all her wildest places.

Sun­shine Coast busi­ness owner Kate Pilcher, 36, has found this bal­ance, and it ar­rived on horse­back.

Kate grew up on the “pan­cake-flat” plains of the Dar­ling Downs on a cot­ton prop­erty.

She says it was a blessed up­bring­ing, along­side her older sis­ter and younger brother, spent build­ing gum-tree cubby houses, learn­ing to drive at 12 and swim­ming in ir­ri­ga­tion ditches.

“And, of course, my favourite child­hood mem­ory, learn­ing to ride,” Kate says.

“When I was old enough, I un­der­stood that rid­ing a horse equalled un­par­al­leled free­dom.

“The ad­ven­tures we had on horse­back still shine bright in my child­hood mem­o­ries.

“As a fam­ily, or by my­self, I would take off down the pad­dock, ex­plor­ing the creek and bush and be­come lost for hours.

“And es­sen­tially, that’s what I now do for a liv­ing.”

Kate owns and runs Glo­be­trot­ting, a busi­ness which pro­vides around-the-globe horse rid­ing hol­i­days, treks and sa­faris for clients.

Via horse­back, Glo­be­trot­ting clients get a unique per­spec­tive on the world and the abil­ity to ex­plore ar­eas not ac­ces­si­ble by ve­hi­cle.

It pro­vides an amaz­ing op­por­tu­nity for ad­ven­ture which starkly con­trasts the of­ten cookie-cut­ter world of tourism.

“As part of my Glo­be­trot­ting ca­reer, I’ve been stalked by lion on horse­back, gal­loped along­side wilde­beest, crossed the old­est desert in the world, the Namib (on my hon­ey­moon no less!), and rid­den with the no­madic rein­deer peo­ple in a re­mote re­gion of Mon­go­lia,” Kate says.

“I’ve seen places and met peo­ple only privy to those that are will­ing to travel off the beaten track from the back of a horse.

“Be­lieve me, I don’t take this for granted, I get to see the world through the eyes and ears of a horse where the travel is slower and more en­rich­ing.”

Kate says with the world spin­ning at such a rapid pace, time slows down while rid­ing to meet the rhythm of the horse, and you find your­self be­com­ing com­pletely present – med­i­ta­tive.

And she has an ob­vi­ous affin­ity for the an­i­mals them­selves, de­scrib­ing them as in­cred­i­bly in­tu­itive, kind and gen­er­ous.

The busi­ness it­self came about as a re­sult of a “quar­ter-life cri­sis” brought on by a 10-day ride across the Kenyan Maa­sai Mara with her fa­ther An­gus Johns, an ac­com­plished horse­man, men­tor and busi­ness part­ner.

Rather than back­pack­ing around Europe, Kate said she and a “crafty thor­ough­bred mare called Witch” be­came en­tan­gled in the largest wildlife mi­gra­tion in the world.

“The Dark Con­ti­nent turned my world up­side down, I fell in love with the colours, peo­ple and wild things – it wooed me well and truly and I never wanted to leave.

“I left my busi­ness, my mort­gage and my boyfriend (now hus­band – Steven) and dog – with the de­sire to be­come anony­mous.

“For nine months I jumped from sad­dle to sad­dle, fill­ing an un­quench­able thirst to dis­cover for­eign lands from the back of a horse.

“I spent time on a re­mote es­tancia in Patag­o­nia rid­ing along­side the gau­chos, sleep­ing out un­der the stars, mus­ter­ing cat­tle and learn­ing their horse cul­ture.

“From there, I re­turned to Kenya and worked in horse rid­ing, work­ing with young horses, get­ting them used to wild game and tak­ing guests out on rides.

“It was a blessed time and, on re­flec­tion, a turn­ing point in my life.”

Kate even­tu­ally re­turned home and set up Glo­be­trot­ting, now in its 10th year, keen to share her ex­pe­ri­ences with other horse en­thu­si­asts.

Be­fore rec­om­mend­ing to clients, she (or An­gus when she can’t get away) road tests each ride to en­sure the ex­pe­ri­ence ticks all the boxes: from horse wel­fare and charis­matic, knowl­edge­able guides to en­gag­ing scenery and off-horse com­forts.

But at the end of the day, it’s the Sun­shine Coast she calls home, ap­pre­ci­at­ing how lucky she and Steven (who runs his own busi­ness in ad­di­tion to work­ing with Glo­be­trot­ting) are to work and raise a young fam­ily here.

The re­gion pro­vides op­por­tu­ni­ties for the same grass-roots up­bring­ing they’d both had as chil­dren, aware of and im­mersed in na­ture.

“I love that we can live in the tran­quil sur­rounds of the hin­ter­land and be only 20 min­utes max from world-class beaches. Es­sen­tially, we can spend a morn­ing on the beach bathing in the salty brine, surf­ing and en­joy­ing its sur­rounds and then, of an af­ter­noon, have horses sad­dled and tip-toe­ing along na­tive bush tracks in forests un­touched for decades,” Kate says.

She de­scribes week­ends with their two daugh­ters, Finn, 5 and Birdie, 3 as spent rid­ing horses, swim­ming in creeks and climb­ing trees.

“Gen­er­ally, our week­ends are spent in the chaotic, lovely, crazy, pull-your-hair-out whirl­wind of par­ent­ing young chil­dren. Half of Satur­day is spent in our PJs with messy, tan­gled hair, far, far away from obli­ga­tions of get­ting in the car or be­ing pulled to­wards a com­puter.

“My girls spend a lot of time with my neph­ews, which is su­per spe­cial, that they’ll re­mem­ber a colour­ful child­hood hanging out with their cousins,” Kate said.

With more pass­port stamps than most 20-year-olds, they’ll also re­mem­ber a child­hood of dis­cov­er­ing re­mote cor­ners of the globe most of us will never get to see or ex­pe­ri­ence. But wan­der­lust was some­thing in­stilled in Kate by her own par­ents and she’s keen to pass it on to her own two, soon to be three, chil­dren.

“I be­lieve travel is the univer­sity of life and it teaches you com­pas­sion, gen­eros­ity, pa­tience and love,” Kate says.

And there’s no teach­ing time to waste. In Au­gust, Kate (and new baby) are es­cort­ing a Glo­be­trot­ting group to Ice­land, rid­ing with a free-run­ning herd of Ice­landic horses through the land of fire and ice.

“Then from Ice­land, we’ll be tour­ing around Europe.

“When I say we, Steven, my­self and our three daugh­ters, in a mo­torhome (god help me!) where we’ll road-test rides from Ire­land to France to Scot­land and then head south to Spain, Por­tu­gal, Italy and end up in Morocco in De­cem­ber.”

It’s an ad­ven­ture-filled and fu­elled life which Kate says should se­ri­ously come with a warning: highly ad­dic­tive – en­ter or ap­ply at your own risk.

I’VE SEEN PLACES AND MET PEO­PLE ONLY PRIVY TO THOSE THAT ARE WILL­ING TO TRAVEL OFF THE BEATEN TRACK FROM THE BACK OF A HORSE

PHOTO: ANAS­TA­SIA KARIOFYLLI­DIS

POR­TRAIT PHO­TOS: ANAS­TA­SIA KARIOFYLLI­DIS

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