Growing up in the UK’s New Forest, like many kids Emma did stable work in exchange for rides; she rode anything and everything. Moving to London at 15, she had a break from horses for 12 years while establishing a career working as a technician for various TV channels – and then she met Fletch, a grumpy old ex-showjumper who reignited her love of horses.
“This relationship taught me the intense love for horses and the heart-wrenching devastation of losing them, as unfortunately he had to be put down due to an old injury that needed extensive surgery and my vet believed he couldn’t endure six months of box rest. To this day, I don’t think I’ve ever cried so much and for so long.”
A TRIP TO EGYPT
Emma’s heartbreak didn’t end with losing Fletch. In a seemingly happy relationship, her boyfriend abruptly broke up with her via text message, leaving her devastated once more. “I’ve always believed that changing one’s view can change one’s mindset,” she says. “So, I booked a cheap all-inclusive holiday to Sharm El Sheikh, a city on the junction of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba in Egypt, for five days. While all-inclusive hotels suit some, my restless nature couldn’t settle for lounging by a pool. Knowing this, I found a local stable where I could ride stunning Arabian stallions in a picturesque national park for a full day with lunch for £125. I signed up for two days.
“When I arrived at the stable, they asked about my riding abilities. I mentioned my background in show jumping, albeit not a skilled one, and that I considered myself a ‘rider’,” explains Emma, adding that what followed proved valuable later when starting her own business and assisting her own clients. In short, don’t assume that every ‘rider’ is able to handle a spicy Arabian stallion!
“They brought out a magnificent black stallion named Belal, reminiscent of movie scenes. Embarrassingly, my skills were too rusty, and I had to be led,” she laughs. “I quickly learnt that there’s a vast difference between being an arena rider and handling a hot-blooded horse in the desert. And though the ride left me unable to walk for three days, it rekindled my love for horses. My guide – who was running the tour on behalf of a friend – was kind and patient, and we became firm friends. So much so, that when I returned home, we stayed in touch and I discovered he had his own horses in Dahab, a Bedouin village outside Sharm El Sheikh.”