My 2 week Sal, Cape Verde holiday was a last minute one, my boyfriends Eamonn's idea, to get away and relax. To have a break from hospital appointments and such things, to aid my recovery from a bad accident, in which an arm was still in recovery.
I found Santa Marilha Horse Excursions through an online search, emailed them though their website, only a few days before flying out.
Response was quick and even though I was nervous of my arm, such as, "would I be able to do it, would they let me ride", they responded that it was ok and that with the information I give them they can match person and horse plus there would be a leader for the horse.
I booked the private romantic sunset ride for my boyfriend and I, boyfriend a complete beginner. I'm the one that is into horses and go on horse excursions whenever possible, that said I'm a beginner.
Excursion includes hotel pick up and drop off. Met Carlotta and Anna, nice relaxed, easy to chat to. Once arrived Carlotta went through all the safety in a confident but friendly way. I spoke to her and showed her my arm and though I had relaxed in pickup, chatting to her and Anna, I noticed I need not have worried as chatting some more I realised I was being well looked after, both by horse and man and felt comfortable enough to raise a concern should anything come about during the ride.
Once we had some instructions and information on what the horses are like, we set off, boyfriend on Stella and myself on Marilha each with a leader and Anna as a guide.
What an lovely experience it was. The ride gives you time to get to know your horse, as you walk along taking in your surroundings, before you get to the beach. The leaders are friendly and even take pictures for you (fab photos) if you have a camera plus check on you throughout. If they feel it is alright they will let you have some free time riding without them at your side.
Once you get to the beach and you are happy to, your leader will lead your horse to stretch their legs. Holding on to your horse they will start running and off you go, along the beach. I wasn't sure how I would cope holding on, but I did well, we had a short burst on the beach. Lovely!
When we got off our horses further down the beach, we had our own picnic blanket and natural wind breaker (stones) surrounding our spot waiting for us. We got given a phone and told will be back in an hour, so spend a lovely hour sitting, enjoying the sunset, the quiet, a really nice bottle of wine and cake.
Lets just say that in our 2 weeks stay, we kept going back :) we went 3 times in total doing a different ride each time. My boyfriend who has never done a horse excursion before, though he had sore muscles, enjoyed himself. I think this has opened his eyes to horses in general. He was happy with both Stella and Ufa, though I believe Ufa ended up being mutually suited :)
It is good to see some parts of the Island on horseback (remember that due to the weather/resources available and the well being of the horses, the maximum ride time is 2hours).
Also met Teo, again lovely and friendly. Our last excursion, was to Serra Negra, where you ride through dry river beds and climb up a bit and therefore also down (bit more difficulty due to the surface of rocks). Before though, you travel through desert and along the beach for a bit. Most of the time, its just you, your horse and nature, the elements.
Anna the guide was wonderful, always cheerful and thoughtful, a good balance of thoughtfulness for horses and riders. I have to add a personal note.............
I don't think I knew until the last ride out (and even until recently) how much the horse outings have helped me. Its hard to explain, but I do know when I cantered along the beach on Marilha with Anna riding alongside me, it felt wonderful. I felt more free in a different way, since my accident.
I felt free and happy. I thank Marilha. 3 times I rode her, getting to know her each time and her getting to know me, seems my body trusted her and in turn the mutual trust raised my confidence. Re-awaken my confident of my body and therefore confidence in my arm and what it can do and will be able to do.
Many thanks to Carlotta, Teo, Anna, the leaders and the lovely horses. Big hugs to Marilha.
You do a wonderful service to the horses of Sal that sadly at times need rescuing. You have give them a wonderful life, regardless of the struggles you go through due to being on an Island, where everything has to be imported (a lovely Island it is, friendly people too). We will visit again next time we in Sal :) Wishing you all the best