I have been quite apprehensive about writing this post. Just because when it comes down to it, it is something very close to my heart. I've decided that I should probably let you in on my little secret. There is a charming, quiet village called Apiti. Most people think I'm talking about Kapiti when I mention it. James took me here spontaneously one weekend because there was a snowstorm that left us unable to go snowboarding. Tucked away in the rural North Island of New Zealand, Apiti is a gem. It is unassuming and quaint. You can stroll through most of the village in half an hour give or take. It has a school, town hall, a couple of alpacas and a pub. Also known as where James grew up.
Despite being inherently different to where I grew up and how I grew up, Apiti quickly became very special to me. My heart feels safe, calm and at home. I feel like it is rare to find a place where you feel comfortable to be you, with no inhibitions. I leave feeling refreshed, recharged and ready to take on everything that life throws at me.
Picture serene rolling hills, melodic songs, chirps, a glow worm cave that feels like a cathedral. What made it even better this time was the fact that it was lambing season. (This is why I love Spring) When the girls and I arrived, we were greeted by not one, but two lambs! Winston (He was born on election day. If you're not Kiwi you may not get this) and Brian! We were all able to feed them throughout the weekend, which we were more than happy to do. This weekend trip is swiftly becoming a tradition for me, an escape from the city. We go to the caves, stay at the shed, ride, hike and just spend time in good company. It is the perfect recipe for a remarkable weekend.
My experiences of horseriding in New Zealand have typically been ordinary experiences. Don't get me wrong I've always had a good time. However, when something this extraordinary happens, you can't help but not want to settle for anything less.
Sandie fell in love with horses at a young age. Then as most horse lovers do, competing at a young age. She was a competitive show jumper till the desire to stay home was stronger than the urge to go and compete. It was then she knew that it was time to move on. Consequently, Table Flat Trekking was born. Sandie's enthusiasm and love for horses are infectious. You don't need to spend much time with her to feel the pure unbridled love she has for horses. She possesses an innate ability to connect with horses and people. As a result, she united the two to create a beautiful experience.
I thought I understood the connection between horse and rider but little did I know I would feel it for the first time this trip. I was utterly overcome with emotion walking back to the woolshed. I trotted ahead of the others to compose myself. Dumbfounded as to why I was brought to tears by something so seemingly banal. I told Sandie about it afterwards, and she likened it to how Candy makes her feel. That is when I knew it was special. Sandie had very candidly talked about a period in her life where she was struggling, and that the only thing that got her through was her horse, Candy. With Hercules, I felt like I was suddenly free from everything I was going through. Words escape me when I try to explain the connection I felt. Hercules (how apt) had somehow taken my pain. He made me feel heard and understood. But most importantly, that I could finally begin to heal.
Sandie seems to not only rescue horses but people too. By welcoming them into her family, she heals their wounds.