Experience two adventures in one beautiful photographic book. Travel with two brave young girls as they ride for miles through the mountains, cyclones, floods and droughts of New Zealand with no backup except their mischievous packhorse Monty. Then return with Tracey and her beautiful palomino horses for another ride through yet more stunning scenery with many new adventures. Two delightful inspirational stories which are amusing and appealing to all ages.
150 pages of stunning photographs and adventures. Bound in a tough flexi-cover with fold-over flaps for durability
£15 (US $19.95, NZ $28.56)
Tracey Elliot-Reep grew up on Dartmoor, and her love of horses has taken her to many far-flung countries of the world, including Africa, Tibet, Israel and Russia. Her latest experiences, in New Zealand, have been included in a glossy new book. Here, she tells Glenn Price about her adventures on horseback.
‘We faced cyclones, raging rivers — it felt so good to be alive’
Tracey, who lives at Widecombe in the Moor, said: “The book is actually made up of two visits to New Zealand. The first was with just £60 between the two of us. “We got fruit-picking jobs in New Zealand, and then Ali said we should get skiing jobs. But I didn’t know how to ski. I learned very quickly and we skied all day and worked as waitresses in the evenings. Then we hitch-hiked north.”
Tracey is a devout Christian, and she used her faith to get her through many difficulties and setbacks. A memorable example of this occurred at the end of an eventful Christmas Day. “I woke up in our tiny tent pitched by the sea, to find one of Ali’s ankle socks bulging with sweets on my sleeping bag. I was grateful for the Christmas stocking and relieved that the sock was clean, as our wardrobe was very limited. It was a beautiful summer’s day as we followed the Coromandel Coastline south, spying out a good spot to spend Christmas Day. We turned off the winding gravel road and splashed down a stream to a secluded beach. It was an ideal spot, with fresh water and grass shaded by the majestic red flowering pohutukawa tree. Our horses grazed contentedly in the shade while we sat on the warm sand, looking across the sparkling azure water to the smoky blue Coromandel Peninsula. In this idyllic place we ate our Christmas lunch — a plateful of mince pies we had been given earlier that morning.”
Later that day they washed in the icy river before accepting an invitation to a family barbecue along the beach. But when they returned an hour later the horses had vanished. The girls searched along the beach, and then retraced their steps up the river. There was no sign of the horses, so Tracey and Ali split up to widen their search. Tracey, dressed only in a long T-shirt, hitched a lift from a passing motorist. But there was still no sign of the horses and Tracey was dropped off, miles from anywhere, not knowing where Ali was. She remembers: “It was getting dark. It was going to be a long painful walk, barefoot along the gravel roads. I suddenly felt a wave of homesickness come over me. In the dusk I whispered, ‘Now what, God?’ I gazed absent-mindedly across the darkening valley beneath me. In an instant I saw the horses. Oblivious to the rough ground, I raced down the hill towards them. A car with glaring headlights arrived simultaneously — and out hopped Ali.”
Ali explained how she had met a man who had found the horses on the road and put them in a paddock for safety. Tracey says: “Elated, we jumped on our horses and rode bareback in the moonlight. We took an alternative route back to our campsite, along a beach, singing Christmas carols.”
They survived that cyclone but, after a variety of jobs sustained the pair through a selection of experiences, they encountered another. She adds: “The higher we climbed over the Kaimai Range, the harder the rain hit us. We slithered in the mud, in and out of overflowing potholes. My horse slid uncontrollably, ramming us with the sharp edges of his wooden pack boxes, bruising our legs. The brunt of the wind drove the rain horizontally into our faces. The horses, refusing to continue in the driving rain, kept swivelling their hind quarters into the prevailing weather. On the crest of a range of hills, in a cyclone, wasn’t the place for the horses to go on strike. So with one hand clinging to our hats and the other to slippery lead ropes, there was little we could do to control them.” Eventually, they reached safety. She remembers when, while crossing a raging river, she feared for her life. “My horses was reticent as I urged her forwards, straining to see the safest crossing point through the seemingly bottomless, churning, milky-green water. As I waded in, on the horse, the water reached my knees. I said, ‘Oh God, please don’t let the horses swim, or we’ll be swept downstream’. I didn’t dare to take photos, and I couldn’t even look down at the water rushing around us. It made me dizzy. When we reached the other bank I slipped off my horse, my legs wobbling. ‘Oh, God, thank you,’ I said. ‘It is good to be alive’.”
One of Tracey’s most memorable New Zealand experiences involved her taking on a new horse, Favour. The horse had been abused, was nervous and temperamental, but Tracey gained its trust to such an extent, they entered a local horse race — and won. Tracey says: “As the flag dropped, another palomino veered right across our path, its jockey’s arms and legs flapping. In a split second I had to decide whether to slow Favour down to avoid a collision, and so lose momentum and valuable seconds, or speed up and swerve around the horse in front. I went for it, and she brushed past the outside flank of the horse blocking our track. Favour leapt forward into overdrive, with more speed than I ever knew she possessed. Pounding over the sand, we overtook several horses before drawing level with the leader. We seemed almost glued together, and the horses were still pressed together as we approached the finishing line. I thought we had tied, only to hear that Favour had actually won by a nose. She must have stretched out her nose at the very last moment. Favour and I won a silver cup, a blue horse rug and seventy dollars prize money. Sitting astride her, I felt I was in a dream. I had just ridden and won a beach race, on my horse, on the remote East Coast.”
Hi Tracey,Just a note to say that I really love reading your Riding by Faith through New Zealand.I just love the stories, that you kindly shared in the book. Thanks so much for writing it, it’s a lovely story.
Chloe Rosenburgh, Dunedin, NZ
To hear a short video clip of Tracey talking about her New Zealand book, see below: