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
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