Season 2, Episode 5
[00:00:00] Lindsay: [00:00:00] When I woke up this morning in New York state, my phone’s weather app said that it was four degrees outside. Yep. Four degrees, not real inspiring riding weather. My friends, my life feels like a case of the winter blues has collided with quarantine, an angst, and I am just dying for a change of scenery.
You know what I mean? I’m sure there are a lot of us out there who are experiencing a severe case of wanderlust right now. And I’d love to say that we can offer you a magical plane ticket to an exotic location. We can’t, but we can give you some fun travel ideas to look forward to for the future.
I’m one of your hosts, Lindsay Paulson. And in the following conversation, I am chatting with [00:01:00] equestrian travel expert, Stacy Adams of Active Riding Trips, the premier provider of equestrian vacations, Stacy shares her story as well as some fun tales of her riding adventures and some really helpful tips as well for equestrian travel or travel of any kind, really.
So stay tuned for a little vacation for your mind if you will. Oh, and I should add while this podcast is about travel please note that we encourage you to use your best judgment when it comes to planning future travel with health precautions in mind. So we are certainly very aware of the current pandemic and we encourage you to travel only when you feel safe to do so stay safe, everyone and join us in looking forward to the better days ahead. Oh, and while I’ve got you I’m happy to announce we’re entering a new [00:02:00] era of the dressage today podcast, and I will soon be handing the reins over to our new hosts, Stephanie Ruff, and Aviva Nebesky. So thanks for spending time with me over the past two seasons and be sure to join them for future episodes.
Okay. Onto the conversation.
Hey, there, I’m Jennifer Malachi. I’m Lindsay Paulson. We’re the hosts of the dressage today podcast, where you can find us talking about anything and everything dressage related.
Our conversations span the world of dressage from leading riders to local level dressage heroes,
we’re talking training advice or care tips, and stories to inspire your own dressage journey tune in, then tack up.
Hey Stacy. Thank you so much for joining me today.
Stacey: [00:02:50] It’s great. Lindsay. I’m so happy to be with you and hear you and just yeah. Looking forward to it.
Lindsay: [00:02:56] Yeah. I, I feel like with with all of this, [00:03:00] Oh, with all the strange world that we’re living in these days, I’m sure a lot of people have a big case of wanderlust going on probably even more than they have before.
So I thought this interview would be a fun way to to, Oh, I don’t know. What’s the word, give our listeners a chance to think about maybe some opportunities to look forward to in the future and live vicariously through some of your adventures. Just to get started, do you want to tell us about your equestrian background and how you’ve basically become an expert in a question in travel?
Stacey: [00:03:35] Sure. Happy to do it. And it’s to your point earlier, it’s so funny, and you have to laugh about 2020, because what else can you do? I guess you could cry, but that doesn’t really get you very far. We’re calling 20, 20 the year of dreams, because we’re all just dreaming about the things that we should’ve been doing or we’d like to be doing, or we hope to be doing.
[00:04:00] And just rolling along but to answer your question, I have ridden my entire life. Truly since the age of four and my parents were completely pragmatic folks who were great parents, but they never saw a horse as a great investment opportunity, oh, that I never took that to heart as an adult, but but yeah, so I never had a horse.
I just was allowed to go and take riding lessons and I could occasionally go to shows, but not that many because the shows always fell on Sundays and we were at church on Sundays. And my parents, I think thought it will be a passing fad. So they signed me up for tennis lessons and golf lessons and guitar lessons, which I do not play.
And every other little thing under the sun and I was only allowed to ride once, maybe twice a week. So that was so that I was balanced, but let’s do there much to their all of their planning was spoiled in the end anyway, because the moment that I was able to afford a horse, it was, [00:05:00] that was the end of the story there.
And I think I finally bought my first horse at the age of 27 and that was more than morethan a few years ago now. So yeah. Yeah. Ever since so long, long story short. Yeah. I’ve just always been riding too to some degree. And in the last 27 years been riding a lot. Five or six days a week as a schedule permits.
And it’s been an interesting journey and the journey to how to become a travel expert and an equestrian travel expert is one of those kind of funny things. I had taken a year off of work back when I was 27. And had gone to work at a barn just for fun, because I thought, you know what, I’ve never had a horse.
I’m going to go and learn all about what it is what’s involved in keeping the horse on your property and [00:06:00] about the feeding. And certainly I knew how to muck stalls, who doesn’t right. Just the intricacies of it. And so for a year I did that and it was great and super fun, but that was, back in the mid nineties, early nineties.
And at that point you had to have your resume couldn’t have any gaps in it. That was still such a huge issue. And you had to account for all your time. And my resume then went on to say, a year working at the farm in Vermont of all places and fast forward a few years from that maybe about six years down the road.
A head hunter called me and said, you, I see I was working for a fortune 200 company at the time. I was one of their sales trainers and I traveled all up and down the Eastern seaboard, working with their depart with their salespeople in all their different offices. And anyway, this head hunter calls me and he’s hey I have a travel company that’s looking for a [00:07:00] sales manager and would you want to come and interview with them? I see that you have this, I see that you haven’t, you took a year off and, and I was like, yeah, sure, fine, whatever, that was in actually 2001 in the summer of 2001. And I thought, sure, whatever, I wasn’t really looking for a job.
I was happy in the job that I had, you, nothing ventured, nothing gained. And in the irony of that situation was that the. The head Hunter was like, it’s a travel company. They’re looking for a sales manager. It’s about 50% travel, which sounded great to me because I was at a hundred percent travel.
And that was really always said, and they show up for this interview in New York state and not in New York city. And it turns out that the company is an equestrian travel company. And the thing that had tipped the scales was the fact that they knew I was an equestrian because I had taken this year off and I had familiarity with [00:08:00] horses, because back then it’s different.
Now resumes are totally different. Now back then, you could put your hobbies and stuff on, but really it was all about your professional experience. Like how did you so buttoned up and so beautiful and, you had to be like the shining star candidate and so forth. Now resumes wants to know a little more about the person behind them, but.
But anyway, so yeah, that’s what tipped the sales. And I went to work for a small travel company. And when I say small, they were doing about probably not that small, actually, if we’re probably doing a, between, it depends depending on the year between five and $7 million a year in business. And that’s not chump change for a super small company, but but yeah, and we actually decided not to work together at that point in time only because the offers had been made and accepted and I was gearing up to, to [00:09:00] move and make this big shift and then9/11 came along.
And yeah, so that was like the first time that we saw everything just totally tank and a complete and utter tragedy. So it’s really, so we just, and I said to them, we just deferred it. And I said to them, look, I’m, it’s a big deal. I like what I do. I’m having a good time working at my existing job and, we’ll just stay in touch.
And about every six months or four months, the owner would call me just to say, I just want to make sure you’re still interested and, really still interested. And yeah, we finally got together and collaborated professionally and started working together in 2003. And that was really the beginning of the jump to do travel.
Because as anyone who works in sales knows a widget is a widget. So whether your, and I’m not, I am not at all belittling the trips that we have, but if you can [00:10:00] sell office equipment, which is what the salespeople were doing that I had been training, you could sell. You travel, you just have to understand what people are looking for and what the needs are and understand your product.
You have to know your product really well. So it was just one of those Nirvana moments where, you know I quit my job and my parents had a coronary because they’re like what about your retirement? And this is a tiny company and you were working for a big company and you could have had a pension and you, and I’m like, listen this is like the dream of all dreams.
Are you kidding? I get to go work at this company and travel and work with their salespeople. And and it’s horses, are you kidding me? But, yeah. Yeah. So that was how it all started. And now flash forward, that was 2000 that’s it started in 2001. We collide, we finally got together in 2003 and it’s been history ever since.
Lindsay: [00:10:54] Isn’t it funny how, like, I don’t know I feel like life [00:11:00] sets you up for things in funny ways that you don’t expect. And that’s something that happened, five years ago that you didn’t think that much about all of a sudden comes back to be super important and setting you up for something
Stacey: [00:11:12] isn’t it, a riot like that.
It’s often, so again, you’ve probably gathered this from what I said earlier, but, my parents were, we always were at church on Sundays and church is a big part of my life. And so we talk a lot about unanswered prayers, right? You’re like, Oh, I really want this. And this seems to work out and I really prayed for it.
And, and so when you really ardently want something and you don’t get it either. You take, I take a lot of solace in the fact that pretty much down the road, something happens and I go. Holy cow. If I had gotten what I asked for this one has never ever happened, yeah.
Lindsay: [00:11:53] I liked that saying unanswered prayers. I haven’t heard that, but that’s a good one.
Bring me [00:12:00] up to speed with what all you handle like on a daily basis when it, it sounds, it really does sound like the dream job that you’re, basically like coordinating equestrian travel trips and I’m sure it’s, I’m sure they’re much more, in-depth not fun things that you have to do, but on the surface level, it sounds quite glamorous.
Stacey: [00:12:21] It’s totally glamorous. Who doesn’t, who doesn’t long for their vacation. And half of the fun of a vacation is the planning it and the looking forward to it. And it’s really truly the icing on the cake when you go. And the vacation is exactly, all this builds up to be. And so a lot of what’s done on a daily basis for these trips is speaking with people live, like we don’t have any way.
And this is by design. It’s intentional. There is no way for someone to actually reserve a trip online without actually speaking [00:13:00] to somebody in the office in person and the reason, yeah, the reason that we do it that way is it’s twofold. The most important reason is that we need to make sure that the trip the person is.
Wanting to take is appropriate for them. That they’re that it’s the right sort of riding for them, that it is not going to be too much or too little for them. And, making sure that it’s a good fit. And so sometimes we do have conversations where we say to someone, I know you inquired about riding in X, Y, Z place, but you also mentioned that you don’t really care for rustic accommodations.
So it’s probably, here’s what the, here’s what the bed and breakfast are like, and here’s what the farmhouses are like. And, I kinda think that a better choice for you would be this, just to give you the experience that you’re longing for. So it’s a lot of consultation and.
[00:14:00] Just having an open dialogue and being candid. We don’t deny people the chance to go on any of the trips, unless it’s a safety concern but really the only thing that keeps us having the client base that we have, and we’ve got about we’re lucky, we’ve got about 8,000 regular clients that travel either annually or every other year and and these are repeat clients. So we feel pretty, pretty glad about that. That’s not, it’s not a ginormous amount. We’d love to have more, but it’s keeps us hopping. But the reason that they do keep coming back is because they actually look at us and trust us for what we say. So that the experience that they have is the experience that they expect.
That there’s not any surprises about it. Travel you travel has enough. There’s no surprises in [00:15:00] travel as it is, right? Like you make a, you want to make holiday plans to go visit your family, you book your airfare. And the next thing you’re getting emails saying we had a change to your flight.
Wait. Totally. Yeah. That’s why it’s one of those things that travel is an adventure just in and of itself. The beast of travel not the actual trip itself, but the getting there, the logistics of it.
Lindsay: [00:15:25] When you mentioned that you’d like to have a phone call with people, because sometimes they’re not, sometimes they don’t always pick the best suited experience for their personality and maybe their skill level or whatever.
And I was just thinking about Oh my God, aren’t horse people like totally notorious for doing things like that, where I feel like some school cross country in Ireland and jump four-foot, jumps. And then the reality is that like maybe they can post the trot.
Stacey: [00:15:56] It happens. And again, this is where you [00:16:00] work really hard.
And our team here at the office, when they were new, they had to be coached on this to understand. But what you just said is so typical you’ll say to, someone will tell me about your riding and, and you leave it wide, open like that, and they’ll come back to you and say my horse is schooling three foot six, and we have lessons three times a week and and so you like, that sounds pretty impressive.
So you sit there and you say, okay, great. So are you regularly, are you showing at three foot six? Are you? Oh no, I’m not doing that. My trainers doing that, so then you have to dial it back and get down to the nitty gritty about what the person is actually doing. And.
Still keeping the dream alive for them. Okay. They’re not schooling there. They’re really back under three feet. Fine. No problem. What’s your goal? What will you expect to get out of this? What are you hoping to get out of this? Are you wanting to jump? That I, or and so you spend the [00:17:00] time getting to know the person and what resonates, what’s the burning desire in their heart.
What would make them have a week that they would just go, that was the freaking most awesome thing I ever did in my life. I can’t wait to do it again because that’s what we want. We spend a lot of time trying to really dial in people about what’s their burning desire and what is their actual skillset and what are they really doing with their riding right now?
And we explain it to them. It’s not. A question of, Hey, we doubt what you’re saying as much as it is. Hey, we want to make sure you have a off the charts, amazing experience. And the only way we can do that is to share information openly and candidly and freely,
Lindsay: [00:17:46] right? Yeah. That makes total sense. I feel like I talked to just in, in the job that I do, I talk to trainers regularly about like their skill, it evaluating horses and riders, maybe in a lesson [00:18:00] setting or a training setting or a clinic setting or something like that.
But, like there they are with the actual person and the actual horse and they have the advantage of seeing all that. But I’m thinking about how it must be just, it sounds very challenging, but also fascinating to try to evaluate what is appropriate for people. Just based on getting to know them over the phone, but that’s interesting.
Stacey: [00:18:24] Yeah, I think, the way it’s a two way street, right? So you have to listen to what they’re saying and then try to decide what they’re really saying. Unless you decide what they’re really saying is really, truly accurate that they’re self representing correctly. And so for example, all of the trail rides that we offer with the exception of one require that folks be able to ride at all gaits, you have to be able to walk trot and canter, not necessarily gallop, but walk trot and canter on a trail.
So now I’m focused on the trail rides, right? [00:19:00] So those now, so someone might say to me I ride six days a week and yeah, I can do all that. And so I’ll say to them, what will be great? Where do you live? Oh, I live in Kansas. And I’ll say, Oh, wow. Okay. Cause I’ve written in Kansas and I’m like, so what part, anyway, the point is like, you start talking to them and you realize they’re riding on mainly flat flatland, flat grounds.
They’re not ascending or descending. So not that it’s so completely different about shifting your weight going up and downhill, but it does make a difference. And there are times on like the ride that we offer in Oregon, the vineyard ride the coast, you go out to the coast and then you ride through the, all the vineyards in Oregon and do wine tasting.
That is a really hilly ride. You are absolutely going up the steep Hills. And so if someone hasn’t done that on a regular basis, it does require a little more from you in terms of [00:20:00] your fitness level, because it’s not just, you’re doing it one morning of one day. It’s pretty much if you’re not going up, you’re going down and then you’re coming into a vineyard, it’s, it does require a little more from a person. And we, so then, we try to ferret out that information from them, but then we also try to share with them. Let me describe what this ride is like to you both from a pace standpoint and from the standpoint of the terrain because every ride is really in the end pace to the ability of the slowest rider, right?
So when someone understands that, then they start listening to you more, more closely and they’ll say, no, that doesn’t sound like a good ride for me, or no, that ride sounds too slow for me, or, and the conversation goes on from there, but. It’s, cause nobody wants to be that person who’s holding the entire group back.
And then, I’ll just take it all the way to the very end of that [00:21:00] conversation, which is to say if for some reason the person has still misrepresented or misunderstood in some way, which is really difficult because we’re extremely thorough about it. If someone is just not able to keep up on a lot of these rides on the trail rides again, a lot of them are progressive.
They move each day to a different place. And so it’s entirely possible. It’s never happened, but it’s entirely possible that we reserve the right to say to them, you can’t continue with this ride. And that’s a horrible vacation. So we worked really hard to make sure that doesn’t happen. Huh?
Lindsay: [00:21:43] Yeah.
So you mentioned that that trip to Oregon like riding on the coast and through the vineyards and everything, I was like, Oh my gosh, that sounds like such a dream vacation. And it, it sounds like you had some really amazing travel experiences. Do you have any memorable stories that you could share from those [00:22:00] experiences?
Stacey: [00:22:02] Oh gosh. Over the last 17 years. Yeah.
Where to start, and I assume you mean about the riding itself. Like you’re not interested in the time that I turned my rental car back in in Ireland and it had a scrape down the off side the whole entire off side.
Lindsay: [00:22:22] Sorry, too. But yeah, most, mostly.
Stacey: [00:22:26] Yeah. Hey words to the wise, take the extra car insurance cause you just walk away and you’re like, sorry.
Yeah, here’s here was something really funny that happened. So I am mainly these days a trail rider who likes to do some Hunter pacing and I will go to the schooling dressage shows because we, most of my fall, winter and early spring are filled with exercises, in the arena.
There’s not much trail riding in the Northeast at that point. Of any [00:23:00] consequence. So I enjoyed dressage. I really loved the cerebral part of it, the athleticism of it. And it really benefits, my horse a lot. So I thought, okay, I’m gonna go. And I’m gonna ride with the program that we offer in Massachusetts, which is that sons of the wind with Victor Silva
and I thought, and I said to him, look, I’m mainly a trail rider. I’m here to just work on some basic things. I, I think have a pretty good seat, help me out with this. So I go there and I think what’s the big deal. It’s going to be two lessons a day. No problem.
Except is it all girls on this conversation or not? Because after the first lesson, I had a problem with the seam of a problem in the nether regions with the seam of my, underwear. And I went, I’m not going to be able to get this underwear off because it’s now embedded in my flesh from sitting.
Appropriately. [00:24:00] And I, I laugh about it because when I have spoken to my friends who really are active dressage riders and competing regularly, they’re like, been there sister done that everybody’s been there. So then ensued this whole conversation about once I extracted said, piece of garment ha how to then what what to do for the next lesson?
And and to try another pair to go without too, and so anyway, it seems that the group that was with me that week was pretty well divided between the I wear bike shorts. I wear nothing. I don’t have that problem. Meanwhile I’m like, does anybody have any Neosporin or something?
I really got a problem. It made for an interesting next few days. I swear, I don’t think I walked the same for a week.
Lindsay: [00:24:57] I know for a fact that you are definitely not the only [00:25:00] person who has struggled with this. I have a really vivid memory of, Oh, I think it was like a couple of years ago. At this point we did like a special event with a really lovely Olympic dressage rider. And she invited us and some people to our farm and she did a whole training day and demonstration, and it was amazing and, like super educational and she was really great at making everybody feel comfortable and at home and like we were able to have some cool conversations and have a good dialogue back and forth, like the audience with this rider.
And she, she took time out of her day to explain look, if you are a dressage professional, you need to make sure you have your undergarment situation figured out. And here’s what I would recommend. And she had recommended bikes shorts too and And, when things go South in, in that region, it really it’s horribly distracting.
So yeah, I understand how that would make for a pretty memorable vacation and probably for you and everyone on the trip too. Huh?
[00:26:00] Stacey: [00:26:01] Oh my God. They died laughing. And actually one of the other girls had a similar problem, not quite as bad as I did. And you know what, I just chalked it up to.
I guess my seat is plenty deep. I’m learning, how to have a deep seat cause I’m sitting correctly apparently for the first time ever.
Lindsay: [00:26:18] You know something else I think is funny too. I can’t speak from experience about going on these amazing trail rides and all these cool destinations, but like the one comparable experience that I have is that like when I was a kid, I went to this riding camp up in Vermont and it was like an eventing camp and we were riding like four hours a day.
I think it was. And I remember like when I was heading up there for camp, I didn’t, I didn’t balk at that. I didn’t think anything of it. I was like, great. I get to be on a horse for four hours. Like what, what could possibly go wrong? And and then I think, and I was a kid who took a few lessons at the time and.
It was so funny how [00:27:00] once I got up there, I’m like this horse crazy kid who just can’t get enough of things. But I had this realization where I was like, in the midst of camp, I was like, you know what, riding four hours a day is a hugely different experience than doing my like bi-weekly lesson.
And I feel like I wasn’t really necessarily prepared for the like mental and physical challenge of that. And I’m sure if there’s a dressage professional listening to this, they say okay, we’ll try doing an eight hour day where you ride 10 horses or whatever. But for the average rider, it is a huge difference to go riding.
Stacey: [00:27:34] It is it’s tremendous. Because we are, I mean at home and I’m pretty typical, right? Like I work and ride on a fairly regular basis. And but when I’m riding at home, I’m either riding in the arena, which is great. And it’s a lot of work because I’m actually working and we’re actually trying to have a movement that looks like an actual movement, instead of some wonky, overly [00:28:00] shaped, whatever thing, I’m, whatever.
But but on the trail rides, we’re riding hour and a half, two hours at the most, and we’re doing that on a Saturday or a Sunday or both, but that’s it. So you get on these trail rides in the shortest trail rides that we offer are about five hours a day with breaks, like breaks for lunch and so forth.
But even me, I, and I know how it is now. I get out there and first day I’m like, yeah, it’s so great. We’re having such a great time look where we are. The second day. I’m like, Oh,I’m sore, but this is so great. The third day I get in the saddle and my seatbones are like, if you sit down, I’m going to effing, kill you.
Like you are going to be in two-point all day, and so by, by a couple of hours into the third day, my seat bones have relented and they’re like yield whatever, either that, or I’ve had a shot of whiskey or something to like, make the pain go away. But it’s it does. And and again, for the trail rides, [00:29:00] I’m a huge proponent for seat savers.
I never travel without a sheepskin seat saver. And the real sheepskin, not the cheap fake things, the real one, it makes. An entirely huge wealth of difference. In fact, I travel with two because there’s always somebody who didn’t think they would need it. And they end up being so grateful to have it. So it takes up no space in your luggage, but the thing is, I couldn’t have said to Victor when I was at sons of the wind, can I put a seat saver on my saddle?
He’d have been like, what is wrong with you? You’re smoking crack. And he says get on and ride. He is, he’s a taskmaster and a purist and but he gets results from you that way would have been nice.
Lindsay: [00:29:43] Are there good, like cool travel stories that you can share with us in addition to
Stacey: [00:29:49] that one?
Oh gosh. Let’s see there. Yeah. There’s couple, in fact, there was the time that. I was traveling to Africa [00:30:00] on to go on a Safari ride. And the driver that I had made arrangements with to pick me up at the airport in Nairobi, did not show up. And you’ve flown all night to get there and it’s, so it’s five in the morning in Nairobi and everybody is off the plane and look, and I’ve gotten my luggage and I’ve got this big, huge suitcase.
And I got my, my hat on, like I had not a cowboy hat, but a big hat like that to keep the sun off my face. And and I’ve got my camera bag talk about looking like a total tourist and the guy doesn’t come and now everybody’s gone. It’s just me standing there. And so now the next, so fast forward an hour, and I’m calling on the phone and I can’t, he’s not answering the phone and there’s no like office phone number to call or anything like that.
And yeah, so then the next wave of people come through and there are all these Europeans that have come to visit their families, [00:31:00] and everybody’s happy and I’m still standing there with my big, huge suitcase, my camera bag, looking for this driver and they all come and leave. Now, I’m the only person in the airport, again, getting there.
And then the next wave of people come, which are all local flights like all inter African flights so now I’m standing in a very crowded airport, full of people who are a completely different color than I am, which is of no consequence other than the fact that if you’re the only person that is different than all the others, you feel extremely, self-conscious I clearly don’t fit in here.
This is really very different. And it’s a. It’s a unique travel experience to be a complete fish out of water in a situation like that, because you’re in a place that you don’t know in a country, you don’t know, you can’t get in touch with anyone and it could have been if everybody wasn’t so darn [00:32:00] lovely and nice, it could have been a really scary situation.
It could’ve been like being in an Asian country with no other, non-Asian, people, no other English speaking people and being stuck. And it was it was interesting. The driver did finally show up. What was his problem? He went on a bender the night before and overslept.
Okay, great. Thanks so much. And and all well, that ends well, in fact the way that, that, that did end up so well, is that. There was a little hotel kiosk desk at the airport in Nairobi. And the gentlemen that managed that desk and they had no outside phone, they had a phone that connected straight to the hotel, but he was like, look, you can come in.
So you’re not standing out in the fray. You can come in behind my desk, but again, you’re a single woman all by yourself and there’s this guy who’s yeah, you come in to my little kiosk, and you’re like, [00:33:00] I don’t know what, but he was super straight up and nice.
And at some point you just have to go, you know what? Riding horses is unpredictable and travel can be unpredictable and you have to trust your gut and say, I either feel safe or I don’t feel safe and I’m just going to go for it. And the guy was like my hero, let me stand there until till the driver came.
Needless to say, we do not use that driver anymore because it’s it’s nerve wracking. It’s nerve wracking to end up in a foreign place by yourself. Because there was no one who was traveling with me on that trip and, and feeling completely like a fish out of water, you can’t call home, what are they going to do?
So yeah, it just added to the adventure that, and the time that I went on a ride in the Sierra Nevadas in California, in June and we make packing lists for people so that they know what to bring, but, it’s the whole the cobbler’s children who go shoeless, I guess I don’t actually know how to read.
So I, [00:34:00] on an off chance, I threw a, I thought, Oh, maybe it’s going to get cool at night. We’re camping out in the wilderness. And camping, like sleeping in a tent, camping. I thought I’m gonna throw this turtleneck this late summer turtleneck in my bag, except on the third day of the trip. It snowed. And it snowed for two days.
Yeah, so my white turtleneck ended up being some shade of. Gray slash black, depending on where you live
Lindsay: [00:34:25] your story about about arranging for transportation and Nairobi and feeling like a fish out of water. I had I’ve done very few trips for trips related to horses internationally, but a few years ago, when was it?
I think it was in 2016. I went to Germany for a month on behalf of dressage today. And I had which Germany, right? This is I feel like it’s totally amazing. And it was such a great experience. It was. I didn’t expect it to be so difficult to fly under the radar there.
[00:35:00] You know what I mean? Like I’m tall and blonde and blue eyes and, I was Oh, I’ll just blend in with all the Germans, right? No, one’s going to notice me. I’m like no big American with my big American suitcase and my big American camera and my big American laptop bags.
And I’m like trying to like, wedge myself into these like little train compartments and stuff. And and I just remember thinking wow, like I feel like such a foreigner here. And it’s crazy because practically everyone around me even can speak English. So it’s, it’s not like.
Or even when I’ve been to England before, too, I felt like this massive foreigner, but I even spoke the same language as they did. So I imagine it’s going to be just a, really like a
huge, hugely eyeopening experience to go to someplace. So totally foreign and something else that I don’t know if it sounds like you, and I had a similar experience in this way, but how much I really, as a foreigner had to rely on just the kindness and [00:36:00] generosity and like grace of other people just to bail me out.
And it renewed my faith in humanity, that there were all these people who came to my rescue at all of these strange times.
Stacey: [00:36:10] No, it’s true. And you have to, at some point you just have to go on faith. And but you also, again, situational awareness is important, right?
I never so when I was talking about feeling like a fish out of water when the domestic African flights came in, I never felt threatened. Everybody there was there for the same reason, they were greeting their friends and family. They were getting their luggage, they were moving along.
But you, when you’re, when you look completely different, you feel conspicuous. But nobody, again, in fairness, nobody approached me and said, Hey, are you looking, do you need a ride? Can, nobody there was known as nefarioius activity that happened, or even remotely threatening, but you feel that way [00:37:00] you’re on high alert, right?
Because you’re like, Oh, I’m different. Yeah. Yeah. But in the end you talk it up to part of the adventure and you do, it does redeem your faith in humanity. And I think there are moments like that domestically, too. I think that sometimes we treat domestic travel as more like a family member instead of being in a different place.
What I mean by that is I think we have less patience and higher expectations with domestic travel than we do when we’re in a foreign place where it’s not so familiar. And so we tend to not be possibly as open to seeing that people are trying or willing to help.
Lindsay: [00:37:45] Yeah. And, to your point, like I think about like some of my friends who live in Europe, I talked to them and then I’m like what are you doing this weekend?
And they’re like, Oh yes, we’re going to Spain for the weekend.
And that’s super cool. I am going to be [00:38:00] going to like the next state over from me this weekend. And sometimes I feel like that seems so lame in comparison. Like I think too, about how wait a second, the United States like covers the equivalent of me flying from New York to Texas is the equivalent of, I’m not going to be able to draw good geographic comparison but that’s, that could be going to two different continents if you’re in, starting off your journey in Europe, and I feel like we do undersell, like the enormity of the task of just crossing our own country.
Stacey: [00:38:33] Yeah. Yeah. And also, bear in mind as well. When the European union was established, it became very fluid to travel from country to country. Like it wasn’t, we didn’t have to wait in the huge long lines. If you had a European passport then it was like traveling between States at that point.
So it’s like the way we travel from here to Mexico, going to Mexico, you can fly from any domestic airport to get to Mexico anymore and back, and there’s no delays [00:39:00] for customs and so forth. And that’s how it is within Europe. So at the moment, hopefully it stays that way. But yeah. I know it does sound.
It does sound glamorous though. What are you doing? Oh, we’re going to Italy for the weekend. Really?
Lindsay: [00:39:18] I’m going to North Carolina. Just, it just doesn’t have the same ring.
Stacey: [00:39:22] Yeah. Not so much. I’m raking my leaves.
Lindsay: [00:39:24] Hey friends, the show we’ll be back in just a few moments, but first I want to tell you about something cool from dressage today. If you’re an average dressage rider like me, you’ve only got a certain amount of time you spend in the arena each week and it hardly ever seems to be enough. The struggle, maybe you take weekly lessons or you read books and articles.
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Speaking of domestic travel I want to, obviously speak to those people who are listening to this conversation and saying, but I’m stuck in the United States for the foreseeable future. W how, what can I do with my time? All kinds of travel options are currently available to us, like under COVID circumstances.
Like in terms of, what sort of cool riding vacations are there in the U S that are available to people right now.
Stacey: [00:40:45] So here’s the thing. There are vacations available in quite a few different places. However and I’m not however person, but let’s just be practical about it. A lot of States have [00:41:00] limitations on places where you can go, that you would have to quarantine when you come back or places that you would go that you would have to quarantine upon arriving and .
One of the first things that I would say to people is know what the expectations are in the state, where you live, and then we will help you with what the expectations are in the States where you’re going almost all of the places that, where we have domestic trips, Montana and Massachusetts and Tennessee and California, they don’t have quarantine requirements for folks coming from outside those States.
So they, they are. Relatively accessible. The challenge becomes what your home state is going to require from you because everybody can totally get their head around. Okay. I need a break. Like I’ve had enough of COVID and enough [00:42:00] of politics and enough of like Calgon, take me away get me on a horse in the country somewhere.
But can someone afford or have the ability to take an extra two weeks to quarrentine? So for example, I’m here in New York and New York is one of the strictest States. Like they’ve got a list of 24 States that if you visit that state and you come back, they’re going to do contact tracing.
And you’re not going to be able to leave. You’re supposed to self-quarentine in your house, or they’re going to station someone outside, outside your house? No, but the fines that they’re going to charge are just crazy high,
$2,000 or something like that.
Yeah. It’s a whole other, it’s a whole other week’s vacation, so if, that’s the biggest challenge what we look for. And so I can’t help. I can’t help someone if their state has, has a situation like that, like in New York. So for example, I think I shared with you that [00:43:00] I was gone last week to Maine because I had three trips scheduled, three riding trips scheduled and not a single one of them happened for obvious reasons due to COVID. I had held out I was making a repeat trip, was supposed to be last week. I was supposed to be coming home tomorrow, back to Peru with some friends and my husband who had never been. And you know that I was holding out hope that trip would actually go ahead and happen. But. It can’t.
Crew’s not, we waited to the very end and can’t do it. So I said to my husband, if I don’t go somewhere and somewhere, that’s not the four walls of my office or our house, I’m going to end up like homicidal. It’s just not going to be good. But then became a question of where can I go?
Because New York is very restrictive about what has to happen when you get back. And so anyway, so we went to Maine, Maine is on the approved list, according to [00:44:00] New York, but, we have the places where we offer trips, do not have quarantine. Restrictions. So they will take travelers. And the reason is, especially that the ranches and the farms that we work with will do that.
It’s because it’s small, the, even on the ranch rides that we offer, the ones in Colorado and the ones in Montana and Wyoming, they’re taking about 12 to 15 people in a week. And that’s it, that’s a total group size and you’re out, you’re talking about social distancing at its finest.
Everybody knows leave a horse’s length, and even if you didn’t leave a horse’s length, there’s still 6 feet front-to-back between you and someone in front of you. So you’re not really in jeopardy that way. The trick is just, how do what is your state require when you return home?
Lindsay: [00:44:51] And one of the things that I think is tricky about New York state too, is that as a state, that’s on the list one week that. It’s a, it’s a restricted place or [00:45:00] it’s a place that has restrictions that when you return, you have to quarantine, that list is changing on a weekly basis.
So I feel like you do have to be really diligent about, just keeping up with the news and like monitoring those sorts of things too.
Stacey: [00:45:13] You do. And so generally, and we can’t insist that people do this because it’s not required. I personally think it’s foolish not to, but we, so we generally say to people do yourself a favor and get travel insurance because here’s the bottom line, the way the trips.
One of the great things that’s happened in travel due to COVID is that it has become a lot more flexible. It used to be so inflexible and rigid. And so if you had. To change your plans. It wasgoing to cost you,, and it could potentially cost you up to and including the full cost of your trip. But thanks to COVID.
Now you can make slight changes at no charge, [00:46:00] and that has trickled down to the rides themselves. So if somebody would end up not being able to travel due to COVID, they’re able to go ahead and delay their trip, with no penalty fees. So we just picked future dates, down the road that there is no.
So let’s say this trip that this trip to name that I just took was not a riding trip. We do not providing a name, but let’s just say that it had been an, and for some reason, Maine then became on the list for New York. If I wouldn’t have been able. To salvage that if the host wouldn’t have allowed me to change our travel insurance would have indemnified us.
So we would have, what we would have lost is just the cost of the policy for the travel insurance, which was like, I don’t know, $150. So a person 300, $300 compared to, $3,500 is a big deal. Oh yeah. [00:47:00] I have always been on the bandwagon of get travel insurance and I have used it.
Over the years, I have used it about five times for various reasons. And so I’m a, I am a convert to it, but now more than ever, because who knows, who would have ever, even in February, when, the phones were ringing off the hook and people were making plans who would have ever thought that three short weeks later, it would’ve been, silence, crickets.
Lindsay: [00:47:36] So when things start to loosen up and travel, whether it domestically, internationally, whatever becomes more accessible to people. Could you tell us about some of the like dreamy travel opportunities out there that are open to dressage riders? I feel like we need to give people something to look forward to like a light at the end of the COVID tunnel.
Stacey: [00:47:58] The there’s a couple of [00:48:00] places internationally. So here’s the thing. Let me back up a second. All of the trips that we offer, and we do not have a yellow pages of riding trips, our trips are actually curated intentionally. So what that means is the trips that you see on our site have been hand-selected and have been personally inspected and visited.
And horses have been ridden, the beds have been slept in people know what, we know what the travel experience is going to be like to get there so that when we’re, when I’m speaking to you, I can say, this is what’s going to happen. You’re going to fly. This is where you’re going to fly.
Then we’re, this is where we’re going to meet you. That you’re going to walk like this. So it’s helpful because the trips that I think. Are probably the most fun because they combine incredible scenery and just exceptional riding for dressage folks are either the [00:49:00] trips that we offer in Portugal to Montebello equal resort or the trip that we offer to the Kona equestrian center.
And one, so one is in Spain. One is in Portugal. We used to have a trip in Germany. We ended up disbanding that trip. As much as a dressage rider would love to ride in Germany, we found that we couldn’t find a German instructor that could. Effectively coach a lower level rider without being too forceful.
Because it’s your vacation. You want, you want someone to push you, but not to where you’re crying.
So yeah, so I’m still looking, so anybody who’s listening to this, if you happen to know of an off the chart, great place in Germany who has an instructor that can really not just teach high level, the upper level riders, but also the folks that want to rise up. Please let me know. I’m, my ears are always open.
[00:50:00] So the two that, that, that are the key ones are the one thatMontivellio and the one at Epona and both of those places have this amazing environment where it’s like you, you step onto the farm. And it’s almost like stepping into its own little bubble of a world. Like nothing is too much trouble.
Everything is super comfortable. The food is incredible. The riding is really supurb. These horses are all highly trained. Most of them are trained up through Prix St. George. So it’s, and so it’s something for every level, but they’re not push buttons. It’s nice because folks like me again who, if I were to go to a schooling show, now I would be going into like first level one first level two.
Like I wouldn’t be even at second level to be able to do any sort of, I could get a reasonable score [00:51:00] but if I, when I spent a week in Portugal at Montivellio by the end of the week, really about two thirds of the way through the week, they had me tuned up to where I could reliably get some piaff and passage on a couple of the horses all by myself, no help from which, which is like freaking amazing.
And, they had you’re really feeling the movements. So what was fun for me about that was. These pre horses and in particular though not pretty though, not as common here in the U S they’re still expressive in their movements. And so forgiving that they’re a lot less complicated to learn on than the warmbloods.
And because the last few horses I’ve had were a Holsteiner and a Hanovarian, big, huge, 17.2 hand [00:52:00] warm bloods, lots of movements, but lots of moving parts as well. And when I’m in this lesson in Portugal and they’re saying, all right, now, when you come around the short side, you’re going to put your outside leg on and you’re going to have to pass to the center line.
And I’m like, Oh, okay. So I slide my leg back and all of a sudden, my inside hip is thrashed up and in. And I’m like, Whoa, I didn’t do that. But there’s, these horses really help you feel the movement. And you’re like, I get it. I get how that’s supposed to feel. And there’s no doubt about it.
There’s no questions and and then you get off after two hours of lessons, you have a lesson in the morning and a lesson in the afternoon or a trail ride. If you choose. You get off and you’re like, yep, I’m going to, you’re going to see me with a glass of wine sitting over in the hot tub watching the sunset.
To me, you just don’t get any better of a trip. Someone has pushed you to where you are a sweaty mess. Like you, your core is engaged. You’re peeling your pants off after your lesson, [00:53:00] but you are absolutely happy. You can unwind with a massage. It’s really like being in a resort.
And that’s how they’re referred to, but it’s just incredible. And it’s fun because again, the groups are small. So you find that you end up wanting to watch the other riders and especially the riders who are more skilled, because it’s really fun to watch their lessons and hear what they’re working on and you end up.
Becoming a cohesive group, even if you’ve all come from separate places and you’re not cheering each other on, but you’re like, we did that so well it’s just you leave the week going. That was one of the most amazing weeks of my life and those trips like Epona in Spain and Montivelio in Portugal, they’ll take really only about 12 people in a week in order for everyone to get the appropriate time in their lessons.
And so the [00:54:00] challenge becomes between that and the fact that people seem to go back year after year, the slots tend to be very scarce. So we generally say to folks, look, try to have some flexibility either when you can go or book early, because it’s, you want to be able to get it and.
And they go and they’re like, Oh my gosh, that was fun, believable. And it is, it’s great. It’s just, I can’t gush enough about it because even though I don’t compete, even though I’m not an active competitor and I’m not pursuing my medals or anything like that, even someone like me goes, that was utterly amazing.
And I became such a better rider from being there in a week. And in fact, I think everybody should go, no matter what sort of riding you do, because they’ll put, they’ll put you on a long line, they’ll put you in a lunge lesson and it’s hard anymore as a dressage rider to get lunge lessons, which are so helpful for helping you have an independent seat and managing the [00:55:00] different parts of your body and so forth.
So they’ll do all of that for you, which is great.
Lindsay: [00:55:04] Yeah. That’s awesome. I it’s interesting too. Cause I, I think about when you had mentioned the PREs I was like, Oh yeah, that’s such a like fascinating aspect of international travel is that I feel like you would get exposed to breeds that you just don’t get exposed to.
And of course we have Spanish horses here.
Stacey: [00:55:23] So one of the things that. Is super important to me is that when you go to a country, you ride the horses native to that country. That’s part of the cultural experience. So when you go to Portugal, you’re riding Lusitanos. When you go to Spain, you’re riding Andelusians, and this goes for the trail rides as well.
Not just the lesson program. When you go to Ireland, you’re riding the gypsy vanners and Connemaras and Irish sport horses. So you’re getting that part of the experience as well. Yes. And not just as it important that we feel like you should be able [00:56:00] to ride the breeds. But one of the problems from the dressage standpoint that we have found domestically is you can find excellent trainers domestically.
Really good trainers. But to find a trainer who’s going to week in and week out, bring riders in a varied ability and put them on their school masters their highly schooled horses is nearly impossible. It’s almost a needle in a haystack, so it’s the package deal. And so it really is amazing to be able to offer these places where people can, they can go and ride the horses that are highly trained, highly schooled, and have that experience with excellent training.
Lindsay: [00:56:46] Yeah, totally. Yeah, totally. That’s well, and I feel like just barn shopping here in the United States, for me with my like adult amateur competition, horse, like just finding one trainer is hard and we speak the same language and [00:57:00] like we’re not traversing the country, so I can imagine that must be quite a challenge.
Stacey: [00:57:07] I don’t need to focus on one of the places versus the other, but one of the other neat things about the Portugal location is that the, right now the head trainer there who trains the second in charge trainer, if you will but the head trainer is. Not someone that people have generally heard of.
She’s very big, internationally in competition, but for, but her passion is training. It wasn’t so much getting out there and making a name for herself as a rider. And so the second trainers at this gentlemen named Schwol. She is, has worked with him for five years and is bringing him along.
And he, and his horse, his home bred horse from this place where you arrive are now ranked 35th in the world. And that’s not [00:58:00] chump change. And my point in mentioning that is that these are the people that are the, there’s a staff of four there. These are two of the staff members that are giving you your lessons when you’re there.
So you’re not just riding with people that you’ve never heard of. You’re riding with people that are out there and actually getting it done and climbing the ranks. And it’s pretty exciting. And it’s great because. Once you’ve been there, you start seeing these people in DT and, online and all of a sudden you’re like, I rode with that person.
It just adds a whole nother element of excitement to it.
Lindsay: [00:58:32] Oh yeah. No that’s super cool. And I do, I recall those places because I believe that we’ve run articles about them in the past. I remember reading them and reading about them and drooling over them. And I’m sold. When do we leave?
Stacey: [00:58:47] tomorrow please. If only.
Lindsay: [00:58:50] When you were talking about the challenge of finding a riding instructor in Germany. I don’t want to like, make it feel like we’re harping on that or anything, but I hope I [00:59:00] share this because I hope some people will learn from my huge mistake in doing this. But I had all of, when I went to Germany I was, I had a bunch of like business appointments lined up and stuff like that.
And I had some really cool experiences. Like I got to visit Hubertus Schmidt and Ingrid Klimke and Hanenburg and it was incredible trip. But the thing that I did not plan. This is like embarrassing to admit, but I just threw my half chaps, my helmet, my boots in my suitcase. And I had said to myself, it’s fine.
I’ll find somewhere to ride when I’m there. It’s Germany. How hard can it be? There’s horses everywhere. There’s everywhere in the stupid month that I was in Germany. I didn’t sit on a horse once because I couldn’t find a place to teach an American student. And if anybody has any plans of going to Europe and just showing up and assuming that you can get on a horse, I don’t because you can’t just do that. [01:00:00]
Stacey: [01:00:00] No, totally different. Ireland completely different story. Of course. There are no dressage trips in Ireland, but but at least that I know of but it’s true. You can’t just walk on and be like, Hey, I’d like to take a lesson from you. They’re going to be like, yeah, we were busy, right?
Lindsay: [01:00:19] Yup. Oh yeah. Next time I travel internationally and I hope to ride a horse. I will hopefully work with yourself. Yeah.
say you and I are taken off to go to Epona for a little while. What kind of tips would you give me for, setting off on a big international equestrian trip?
Stacey: [01:00:45] Sure, no problem. So the first thing and we already chatted about it is I would highly encourage you to get travel insurance.
And we, I generally recommend a website that’s that is basically an aggregator for [01:01:00] policies. They don’t sell the policies. You can go and basically have what’s that ala cart you can go and create craft and create your own policy specific to what your needs are or what you think you might need.
And then they send you out to whomever. The company is to purchase it, whether it’s Berkshire, Hathaway, or travel borrowed or travel left or whatever. That’s first and foremost, I highly encourage that, but we were classified as a tour operator, which means generally when you book a trip with us, we tell you where to be on day one.
And then we tell you where we’re dropping you off at the end of the week, on the last day. And it’s really up to you. To decide what you’re going to do about getting there. You make your own airfare plans. If you’re going to come in early, you make your own, accommodation arrangements or tours.
Now that’s not to say that we can’t make recommendations for you because again we try to be consultants about it. [01:02:00] I prefer that we don’t get involved in booking things for you, but generally what I found that seems to work best is we’ve created on TripAdvisor sort of these sample trips in these different places like in, in Lisbon and in Lisbon would be the jumping off point for for Portugal or in, Madrid, the jumping off point for Epona. It’s we create these sort of sample trips in these metropolitan areas and share it with you so that you can see.
The things that we think are of interest and decide what you want to do. You can also research it on your own. And in fact, we encourage folks to research things on their own, because again, the planning builds the anticipation, which keeps the dream alive and you’re like, Oh, she’s going to be so great.
And all of a sudden you see an article about, you’re tripping along through your Sunday paper and you see an article of that state and you’re like, wait, what’s it [01:03:00] about, it has nothing to do with horses, but you’re like, how far is that from where I’m going to be? That sounds pretty cool. And it adds to the whole fun of planning the trip.
So yeah, so we can recommend things like that. I generally use a couple of different sites when I’m making my travel plans. So for airfare and for flights, I’m sorry for airfare and for hotels, I like to always use a site called the Mundo. Dot com, which is M O and Mary M O N D o.com. They again, source things out, you end up booking directly with the airline as opposed to booking through them.
So it’s not like an Orbitz where if you go to Orbitz to search your flights, when you make your booking, you’re booking through Orbitz and Orbitz is your travel partner for that. But I don’t, I find the Mundo has very good rates. I find kayak has very good rates. I think pretty much everybody has kayak.com at this point.
If you’re a risk [01:04:00] taker, a little bit, a wonderful app that we have used and loved is called hotel tonight. And also Trivago, which is T R I V a G O V, like Victor ago. Trivago. They’re great for finding last minute hotel deals like day of. At that point, the only caveat I would tell folks is be a little smart about when you’re traveling.
If you’re traveling in the summer, which is typically peak time, your pickings are going to be a lot slimmer with these, the hotel apps, because a lot of the hotel rooms are going to be full already. But if you’re traveling now, like September, October, November, then it says the world is your oyster it’s.
It’s great. It’s a nice way to save. You’re gonna save some money. I think I had also mentioned. Earlier to you [01:05:00] that we have packing lists. We try to help you with what to bring. And one of the really cool things that’s happened, this, we started this before COVID, but literally two weeks before COVID and it’s just recently launched and we are so totally thrilled and happy about it, but we have this very cool partnership.
Now with Kerrits apparel and they have taken our packing list and created an online virtual packing list. So for example, when folks are getting ready to go to Epona we send them a link to our dressage packing list, and they can look at all the, all of the vented shirts and, the agreeable pants and all of the things that were originally just on a list.
Now you can see the pictures, you can read the reviews and, it’s just, we’re so thrilled about it because the quality of their stuff is just so great. And yeah, totally jazzed about it. So yeah, we do, we send you a packing list, tell you that the [01:06:00] packing list is a little bit exhaustive but it’s meant as a tool, not as a, like you have to have these things.
Yeah. So yeah, so we, we try to just be collaborative about stuff like that and help you with tips, tricks, how to stretch your money so that your travel budget goes further. You know where to stay, what neighborhoods are good, what neighborhoods aren’t, if you’re staying in a city, you know how to get around, should you rent a car or should you not that kind of stuff.
Lindsay: [01:06:28] I’m going to throw a curve ball question at you, but I’m curious as to what sort of like oddball items you think are really nifty to travel with. So let’s say, let’s just say you can bring you’re going on an international riding trip and you can only bring, say five things with you. What do you bring.
Stacey: [01:06:49] Five things. No matter where I’m going, and even if it’s in the dead of winter, my, my mother used to always say, you should pack a bathing suit. And I would say [01:07:00] mom, we’re going skiing in Vermont. And she would say, it takes up very little space in your suitcase and you just never know. And as much as it used to pain me to admit that my mother was right, she was right.
I carry a bathing suit in every time I travel, even if I think there’s no way I’m putting this thing on. And it has proved. It has proved useful time and time again. The other thing, yeah, the other thing that I have always in, in a carry on or in my, I don’t carry a purse, I usually carry a computer sack like a knapsack, but I always carry a flashlight a small flashlight.
And I know these days, people go I have a flashlight on my phone, which you do, but sometimes you need to conserve the battery on your phone and having an actual flashlight comes in handy because for example, here we are last week in Maine in this house and everything is [01:08:00] great, except we lost power.
Okay. And it’s one thing. Yeah. For about six hours and it’s one thing to lose power, like during the afternoon. Cause you’re like, okay, let me go look around and see, but it was like seven o’clock at night. And I said, Nope, I know exactly where my bag is, so I could get a flashlight to go look for candles and, who thought that would ever happen?
So yeah. I definitely always travel with that. I I generally always travel with a pair of comfortable shoes. Now, some people say no, I can wear my paddock boots but I look at it and say, if I’m walking on cobblestone streets and doing tours and things like that I’m totally not.
I’m all about give me some comfy shoes, like something that is not. It’s not something that I’m going to be wearing all the rest of the days anyway. What else do I travel with that? I never
Lindsay: [01:08:58] Can I just interject too [01:09:00] that I used to be a die hard Dewberry boot fan.
Like the river boots, like the Irish river boots and I love those things. I paid a fortune for them. I love them. I took them everywhere. I wore them all the time and like on trips, all sorts of vacations and everything with friends. And it wasn’t until very much after the fact that my friends very nicely were like, you have to get rid of those boots because they stink and they cannot come.
I feel like we’re relying on your trusty barn boots when you’re traveling in the company of other people is just not a kind thing to do to others.
Stacey: [01:09:37] It’s totally true. And it’s funny because I have a pair as well and I tend to wear them. So in the, in. When I’m in the winter, when it’s cold, that’s generally what I’m wearing to ride in.
Even if I’m riding in the arena. Because again, lower-level dressage rider. I’m not really needing to put spurs on. We’re not doing anything that [01:10:00] requires that much cueing and but yeah, I have to take them off outside, so my husband’s did my feet get hot? And they sweat even in the winter.
And the husband’s those things frickin stink worse than the dog so take them off. And he horse smell doesn’t bother him at all. It doesn’t bother him at all my boots, wholly different story. It’s the inside? Not the outside. Oh gosh. Yeah. So obviously I traveled with a charger and in fact, the charger that I have now.
The charging station. It’s a converter charging station all in one. And I love it. I got it on Amazon. It’s a little bit of a brick. So it’s about the size of it’s not big, it’s probably two inches square and it’s yeah, so it’s a little bulky, but it’s not as bulky as taking a whole converter kit.
But what I love about it is it’s got four ports on the bottom four USB ports on the bottom, so I only need it. And then, the cords for [01:11:00] each of my things, my laptop, my, my cell phone, my I traveled with a GoPro because I’m always filming stuff. I don’t necessarily recommend traveling with a GoPro unless someone is familiar with how to use it because people get too.
Preoccupied with, is it on, is it, this is it that? And then they’re not paying attention to their riding, but but I travel with it generally all the time. And I also travel with my camera an actual camera. So cell phones have come a long way and they take really good quality pictures, but there are times that, and again, I do this because of what I need for the business.
I need the videos, I need good pictures because a picture is worth a thousand words. And so I, I can’t be taking a picture where the rider is like so small that you go, I can’t even tell what that person is doing or what that, when you zoom in and take it, you haven’t been still enough. And now it’s a blurry picture.
I, I [01:12:00] need, I have to have that. Yeah. And I also discovered a couple of years ago through a blog that I follow. And it’s an interesting blog it’s called horse and man, and I don’t know if other folks follow it or not, but it’s just a general horse blog that this woman in California writes.
And I find her stuff to be really interesting, but she turned me on to this lip balm by a company called raw. So it’s all natural. And I bought like 12 of them and I have them in every single vest because I’m a huge vest person, every single vest, every single barn coat, I and I’m big on, so I love that brand.
It works really well. It doesn’t get it doesn’t melt and it doesn’t get it also doesn’t get clumpy, like when sometimes when like chapstick for me, since it gets to clumpy and I can’t get it on my lips. So yeah, it’s in every single pocket. And I think just finishing out my last thought I bought years ago, A jacket to ride in [01:13:00] and it’s by a company called Arista, and they Asmar mix makes one as well.
But what I love about this jacket is it comes down to about my knees. It’s a rain jacket. Rain jacket comes down to about my knees. It’s vented in the back, or I should say pleated in the back. So you snap it up when you’re not riding, when you are riding, you unsnap it. And it creates a skirt around the back of your saddle so that you’re not getting wet.
And what’s cool about it is. I get more compliments on that jacket from non horse people. Like I, cause I wear it. It’s my travel jacket. And people are like, that is such a beautiful jacket. And I’m like, yes, it’s my barn coat. And they’re like, it’s your what? And I’m like, yes, it’s for riding, but it’s great.
And it’s lightweight. So it wears no matter what then yeah. I always carry a raincoat. Even if I’m going to the desert, I carry a raincoat because remember the girl that threw in a turtleneck cause she was like, Oh, it’s June. I [01:14:00] might get cold at night. Yeah. Now I learned, carry my raincoat everywhere.
The light jacket, raincoat
in a swimsuit.
Lindsay: [01:14:10] One of, one of the jackets that you’re referring to, and I joke that it’s like my, I call it my Devon jacket because I went to Dressage at Devon one year when it was, classically, just a torrential downpour the entire weekend. And I bought it just because I was desperate. I didn’t really, I didn’t really need another, I don’t need more outerwear because I already have an outerwear obsession, but that weekend I was just desperate something that was long and kept me covered.
And that thing has come in so handy. I’ve literally, I’ve worn it to football games. I’ve worn it to work functions. Yeah, there I am with you on that one.
Stacey: [01:14:47] I years ago about that six years ago, decided to have some half chaps custom made because I have a long leg from the knee to an, to the [01:15:00] calf. And my calves are quite small.
My ankles are quite small. And and I wear zip up paddocks boots not tie paddock boots. And so I had this problem where every pair of half chaps I would buy and even the Tredsteps, even some of the really nice Ariats. I just they either weren’t tall enough, for the inside of my, inside of my knee or they stopped at the top of my foot.
And so the problem would be that like, it would be raining on a trail ride or in a lesson because a lot of the dressage places have covered arenas, but sometimes, it’s still raining. The rain blows a little, but And I just thought, you know what? This is stupid. People get custom boots made for the cheap ones for 700, $800.
How much could it possibly cost to have custom chaps in? And you can buy a pair of nice chaps off the shelf for 400 bucks. Like really nice ones. So I just thought I’m going to do this. And so I said to the guy, this is what I want. I want it to come up [01:16:00] really high, like tall dressage boots.
That’s how tall I want it. I want it to make me sore in the back until it’s broken in, at the back of my knee. And I want it to come down. I want it to flare out around the top of my foot, over my boots fitted, but I want it to come way down. So it covers the zipper. And so between that, that raincoat that I have, and these custom half chaps, there is not a part of me that gets wet.
Other than my hands. Even though I have gloves on because the coat comes down to my knees. So if anything, that’s on my coat literally just runs right off, and anything that would hit my leg is running down the leather chaps but it’s not going inside my boot it’s, but those are my personal preferences, it’s just what I do because I can,
Lindsay: [01:16:46] So this reminds me of a time that I was like camping in the Everglades for a week and it wasn’t a horse trip.
But I was like, I was a kid, I was in like middle school or like eighth grade or something. And of course I like completely ignored everything on the packing [01:17:00] list. And and then we were in, so we were in Florida, it was like February or something like that. And the packing list, it said bring a sweatshirt, bring a jacket.
And I, my wise 13 year old self was like, This is stupid. I’m not bringing a jacket to Florida, it’s Florida. And like my mom was like, don’t do that. You’re going to regret that. And sure enough you know what I remember from that trip? I don’t, when I think of that trip, I don’t think about Oh, we, it was so cool.
We could see the stars at night, or we canoed through the mangroves like the thing that jumps into my brain first is how freaking cold and miserable I was that whole. And after that, I just realized, I was like, when it comes to travel not that I’m, I wouldn’t pretend to be as well traveled as you are anything, but just in my experience, like whatever you can do to prevent yourself from being cold and wet is very often.
Stacey: [01:17:57] That’s right. It’s right. It’s true. And [01:18:00] again, you have the same experience I did, which was your mom was right. But comfort is key. And that’s why, like I look at these rides and I go, you’re going to have an amazing time. It’s going to be work. You’re going to, you’re going to be pushed to the limits.
But at the end of the day, you’re going to have a comfortable bed and a hot shower and good food and nice wine. And, it’s you can’t be miserable the entire time.
Lindsay: [01:18:24] Another packing question I have for you. What do you recommend people do for helmets? Because I know I know people care a lot about protective headgear.
I know that fit is really important, but helmets are also hugely bulky and they take up so much room in a suitcase. So what do you typically advise people to do about that?
Stacey: [01:18:43] It’s a snap. It’s such a snap, so great question. And helmets are one of those tricky conversations, right? It’s a bit like, like politics and religion and cause some people wear them, some people don’t, I’m glad to see that.
I personally, as an ambassador of the [01:19:00] sport, I’m glad to see that more and more people are getting on the helmet, wagon, we, because on a lot of our trips and even the trail rides like in France, helmets are not compulsory, so you can or cannot wear a helmet. It’s totally up to you. And I have my own opinion about that, but I never and listen, I used to never wear a helmet, never and have taken some nasty falls.
And when I started working in the industry, I thought, you know what? You need to take a stand. You need to decide about this. And frankly, you need to be an ambassador for it because it’s just, it’s the responsible thing to do. And boy, have I been glad? So back to your question, because I got my helmet. Those are the easiest thing.
Helmets and shoes. Don’t worry about it. You’re going to pack your suitcase or however your bag is. I traveled with a rolling bag. So I packed stuff in the bottom of my rolling bag, like my sit around tight and my tank tops that, I just take for layers my pajamas. Those fill up the bottom. I [01:20:00] take that helmet, I turn it upside down and put it in there.
And then I start putting socks and underwear on the inside of my helmet. I’m a big layer person. So I take a lot of long sleeve shirts and short sleeve shirts that are light layers that I can mix and match. And I’ll take those and roll them up and put them around my helmet. So basically in the end, the only space that helmet is taking is the space of the frame of the helmet because there’s stuff in and around it.
And it’s not, it’s really taking up minimal space. Now, if someone says to me geez, I really, I’m not a sophisticated packer. And I don’t, that sounds like a lot of trouble or I can’t be bothered or whatever. I look at them and say, fine, strap it to your carry on bag. I’ve done that before as well. Like I haven’t had room for some reason to put it in something. I just literally strap it to whatever bag is over my shoulder. And it just hangs there like that, and then you put it in the overhead bins, but those are my two recommendations for you, but they’re super easy to pack around just like shoes.
Like any sort of [01:21:00] riding tall riding boots, use the space that you have, you packed smartly, put your socks and your underwear down inside the uppers on those boots can be flattened. That’s not going to hurt them. You’re not going to get a crease in them or anything like that.
But the foot bed is not, it can’t be flattened. So use the space, use it to your advantage.
Lindsay: [01:21:21] Okay. That’s a good tip. I wish. Where were you? Five years ago when I’m
traveling. I’m just kidding.
Stacey: [01:21:29] I got you back on the next one. I got you back gal. You’re not no problem.
Lindsay: [01:21:36] Okay. So is there any, I know we’ve covered a lot of stuff here.
Is there anything that I haven’t already asked you about that you would like to add?
Stacey: [01:21:44] I think, you know what I would say to people, so travel right now is a completely, like some people have traveled and some people haven’t and so they don’t know what to expect. And, travel has always been an adventure, like we said [01:22:00] earlier, just in and of itself, regardless of the actual trip that the events of traveling.
So getting to an airport, getting on a plane, dealing with all of that, and if you have to take public transportation in any way, it’s just, if it can go wrong, it will. So I generally would just say to people, listen, there’s a lot of things that, that are going to be different.
The next time you step out your front door to go on a trip, whether it’s a road trip, and you’re just gonna drive yourself and check into a hotel. Or whether it’s a trip that requires airfare and plane travel. So do yourself a favor and do, as I say, not as I do, but but I’m learning myself, do yourself a favor and leave yourself a bunch of extra time.
If you think it’s going to, if you think you need to get to the airport two hours ahead, get there three hours ahead. The worst that’s going to happen to you is that you end up in the bar at the airport having a cocktail while you wait for your plane. And that’s not such a bad thing. That’s [01:23:00] the start of vacation sure beats that the getting to the airport without enough time and being in line at security, trying to determine whether or not you’ll be able to make it to the gate in time to get on the plane.
So leave yourself additional time. That the second thing, and this is really part of that as well, is. Just go with an open mind, have how smile take a deep breath. Everybody is in the same boat. Everybody has similar. They want to be, or they feel they need to be in and try to just have, try to just be like, Hey, I’m on an adventure and you really feel, you need to cut in line in front of me.
It’s okay. It’s okay. I’m just going to smile on it. Let it roll off like a duck because you go on vacation to have a good time, not to be strung out and end up arriving, totally shattered nerves. Just relax. Have a good time. Yeah. Smile.
[01:24:00] Lindsay: [01:24:01] That’s a good lesson that could be applied to riding itself too.
Stacey: [01:24:05] Yeah, except there’s rider, it’s the truth. But as riders, at some point, you get to a point in your riding journey where you can tell if your ride is salvageable or not. And if today’s the day that you need to just pack it in and pick it up again tomorrow, is it worth fighting about like you get to that point and in it, it just, it makes everything so much better.
So the next day when you get like you get off and you’re not irritated and you’re not, you’re not frustrated about ride or at your horse or at your ability to communicate or not communicate, you get off and you’re like that didn’t really go how I planned, but you know what?
I’m going to come back tomorrow. And the next day it’s just it makes a huge difference. So I think the moment that you make that conscious decision to say, I’m not going to let this get to me. I can control how I feel about this and I’m going to own it and I’m going to just not let it get to me and [01:25:00] I’m gonna go find something else that makes me happy for the moment.
Lindsay: [01:25:03] Yeah, absolutely. I know, I knew that life lesson very well because I own two mares and they have taught me a lot about that.
Stacey: [01:25:14] Yeah. Girls power.
Lindsay: [01:25:16] Yeah. Cool girl powers. So for our listeners who want to learn more about you and learn more about active riding trips, where can we direct them?
Stacey: [01:25:26] So the website is super easy. It’s riding trips.com with an “s”. So riding trips dot com and all the trips are listed on the site and all of that good info is there.
They can also follow us on Facebook. It’s active riding trips, equestrian vacations on Facebook. So we We use our Facebook site to really share information. Sometimes about the trips, but more often than not, we’re just talking about riding we’re talking about destinations in general, not necessarily horse related, and we’re [01:26:00] talking about travel tips.
So the, if they’re really looking for info, just specific to the trips, the website is really the best, the riding trips.com website. But if they want to get into a general dialogue with us and it’s myself and two other people who manage the Facebook accounts, then yeah, that’s a wonderful place to get tips tricks.
What we use interesting destinations, fun places to see that are, when you’re in the non-riding portion of your trip, that kind of stuff. And we also have an Instagram account, which is again, active riding trips where we share pretty pictures and that is exclusively about the rides themselves.
And people can also, if anybody, a lot of my clients like to do this if anybody listening wants to do this, you’re welcome to friend me on Facebook. It’s no problem. But then you’re going to get pictures of my dog and pictures of my horse and pictures of my husband and his kilt and pictures of all the things that we do in our little local town.
But the [01:27:00] magic to me about this business is the fact that probably 200 people that are friends of mine on Facebook are people that I have met through. The riding trips business. And what I love about that is I can see it, their kids, I can see their rides. I can see their horses at home. I, we really have a chance to know each other.
And so even though when we talk, it’s just a voice over the phone. It’s not that anymore because I can be like, Oh my gosh, I saw it. You saw what your kids just did last week. That surprise birthday cake, they made you. That was hilarious. And so sweet and just it’s fun. So they can, they’re welcome to friend me on Facebook if they like, but that’s more personal than any face.
Lindsay: [01:27:46] Stacy, thank you so much for taking the time out today, to speak with me and share some of your cool experiences and your tips with our listeners. And I hope to eventually travel with you one day. Cause it sounds like a lot of fun.
[01:28:00] Stacey: [01:28:00] Hey, you bet gal, I would welcome it. The laughs that we had today really fun really makes it totally worthwhile.
That’s how I travel. That’s the kind of weeks I like to have when I’m traveling. So I think you’d be a really nice addition to any week.
Lindsay: [01:28:14] Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.
Stacey: [01:28:16] You bet. Thanks. I appreciate it. And hopefully I’ll hear from someone about some amazing trip in Germany or someone will or get in touch about any of the other tests, but this has been great.
I really appreciate it. Thanks.
Lindsay: [01:28:30] If you’d like to learn more about Stacey Adams and active riding trips, visit active riding trips. Dot com and don’t forget to head over to Dressage Today dot com to check out some of our previous articles on dreamy, dressage, vacations, like trips to Epona in Spain and Montebello Portugal.
And while you’re there, you can also find Stacy’s product recommendations for the items that she [01:29:00] thinks are key to bring with you on every trip.
So be sure to check those out too.
Thanks for listening to the dressage today podcast, you can learn more from dressage today and read in-depth training [email protected] or you can visit our new training video site dressage today on demand to learn more, visit on demand dot dressage today.com and for daily dressage training tips and advice. Give us a follow on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest happy riding .