Currito’s trip: A horse trip from southern Spain to South France
Grace is a young Lithuanian girl that left her country to follow her true passions: horses (and travel)! In this interview, you can learn how to travel with a horse. We asked her to share a couple of anecdotes and tips from her amazing adventure with her fantastic horse, Currito. We hope you will enjoy her fascinating story! 🙂
Hello Grace! When did you first realize you have a passion for horses?
Horses have always been a big part of my life and a way to enjoy myself: I grew up on a farm where we had a range of animals including horses.
When I was around 7 years old, I learned to drive and ride my mom’s 110 cm stallion poney, without any more instructions or training. I would just sit on, pull left and right, and he would go, without a saddle, just a bridle with a bit.
Later I got to explore different types of riding and I learned about natural horsemanship.
I really liked the idea of riding without a bit, and having better communication with my horse, but I couldn’t find a lot of information in Lithuania and I didn’t speak English. Eventually, I found one type of bitless bridle and I thought this was it… all I needed to change was the bridle. I did a few rides but it wasn’t going very well, although I didn’t have time to explore natural horsemanship any further. As a matter of fact, I left home at 16 and went to the UK… For 4 years, I worked in London and had nothing to do with horses.
But I wasn’t happy.
I like the countryside, animals, and I badly wanted to travel. So, for the time being, I kept thinking of a way to achieve my dreams.
When did you first have the idea of travelling through Spain with your horse?
One day I told a friend of mine about a horse documentary that I have just seen. He told me: “I have never seen you so passionate… if you love horses so much, why don’t you do something with them?!”
I answered using a lot of excuses, but his question left a mark in my head.
A few months later, I quit my job and got myself the first job with horses that I could find. It was a polo groom. That industry, however, was not my cup of tea, so I kind of got myself fired. That step changed my life. From then on life gave me the opportunity to live the life I wanted and see the world differently.
Could you give us some examples?
First of all, I was invited to travel around Europe, later I did a lot of volunteering projects and I worked on a natural horsemanship farm in Mallorca: that is where I started remembering about my childhood dream to travel with a horse… I remembered viewing a world map as a child and thinking that the mountains from Mexico to Canada looks like the wildest and best place to do it.
Now I am in Spain and I have something like 1800 euro as savings. My job in Mallorca finished. After that, I went to volunteer in Tabernas, Almeria (to train 2 rescue horses). While being there, I felt I really wanted this trip to happen. So I started buying things to prepare myself for the trip. I bought everything: food, ropes, pack saddle. In fact, I thought I had everything except the horses (I wanted 2 horses so I could ride one and another could carry the luggage. Also, it is important for horses to have a friend).
When did you meet Currito the first time? Did he choose you or did you choose him?
I wanted to buy a couple of horses for 300 euros which were within my budget; horses who would most likely not have a good life or even those that would get sent to a slaughterhouse. I found a lot of horses that matched with the budget but I run into a problem: no one wanted to sell me a horse! In fact, you have to have a farm number, for the horses’ papers and prepare a lot of other paperwork. While I was looking for horses, I was also travelling with a guy. Things didn’t work out between me and him, so he left me on the mountain with all my things and no horses…
I walked to the closed town which happened to be Tarifa and found myself a volunteering job in a farm next Bolonia. There I was training a 5 years old horse named The Gray One, another guy was training him before me. He could ride him but couldn’t stop him… At first, I didn’t like that horse so much, as he was very quiet and shy, also very spooky! In the paddock next to him there was another horse that was super outgoing and playful… I liked him more.
However, the more I worked with The Gray One the more I was starting to like him. I started to understand his gentle personality and I found it very funny that he gets a siesta every day!
I did a lot of groundwork and rides out with him for a month and a half! By the end of it, I knew I wanted to buy The Gray One! I also figured out that his real name was Currito! 🙂
However, I was told that I would never be able to buy him, as he wasn’t for sale.
I left the farm to make some money but all the year I kept on asking if I could buy him. He insisted he wasn’t for sale. I really did dream to buy him but if I couldn’t, I told myself, I was going to do the trip anyway!
But, eventually, you managed to buy him, right?
Yes! At a certain point, I asked the farm owner if I could come back to his place and do some volunteering while looking for my horses, and he said: “Yes, please! The Gray One threw me off yesterday… I need help!”.
When I came to see Currito again, he still remembered me and spent some time scratching me. That was a magical moment!
In the end, I managed to buy Currito for 400 euros. It was believed he was only good for meat now, as he has asthma, an allergy to mosquitos and he can’t be ridden. I was extremely happy when I signed his papers and became his owner. It was also the biggest responsibility I ever had.
How did your adventure start?
Our trip started with troubles: fences blocking our way, a lot of rain, the non-professional saddlebags were always a pain to put on and off. At some point, a dog bit Currito’s ear. We both also got very skinny but we still kept ongoing.
We had a few places that offered us a place to stay. But we kept on going for 400 km until by accident we found this horse breeding farm where horses needed to get exercise. We stayed there for around 10 months. I organized a volunteering program there (which was also featured here on voluntouring.org). It hasn’t always been easy but overall it was an incredible experience: I learned so much and it gave us the opportunity to better prepare for this year’s trip.
There is still a lot of things which would be great to improve. And I am very happy about how things turned out. I am glad I couldn’t manage to buy the horses in the first year: I understood later how unprepared I was, even so, I had a lot of things, I didn’t even have a map to show me where and how to, nor I couldn’t speak Spanish.
What does Currito think about this trip?
I am personally very happy to travel alone with Currito but I am not sure if it is the same for him: even if our relationship is good, I still think he would be much happier and more confident with another horse or another grass eater animal around. This has been on and off for a long time now, but I really think it would be much better if I could get him company.
Currito loves to eat all the grass we find, he never had so much grass in his life! He enjoys to meet other horses along the way, he likes when I scratch him, he likes to stop and have a look at the views and he likes me. He doesn’t like when I leave him alone! But if he had an opportunity, he would run away to the last place he called home and leave me.
Would you recommend this travelling experience?
It’s not easy. Sometimes it’s physically tiring, sometimes mentally tiring. But, sure, everyone can do it, if they really want it! And it’s an incredible self-learning/discovering experience.
What are the main obstacles?
Sometimes I think it would have been much cheaper and easier to walk alone as we always find some locked fences on public ways that Currito can’t walk over; the places where we can sleep have to have grass and it’s best when there’s water too. Cities, towns, motorways, water dams: I need to think in advance how we will get over them or around them. Sometimes we are very limited on what roads we can take… Besides, when I need to buy food, I have to look for a place where I can leave Currito. I try to buy enough food for one week or just enough to reach our next stop.
Nevertheless, I don’t think I wouldn’t be doing this trip without him. I love to know that there’s someone who always walks next to me, someone that I have to care about and I can talk to. Currito taught me so many things about horses, all animals in general, and about life.
Without Currito, I wouldn’t have the same opportunities to meet people and places. Also, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy Nature as much as I do with him. And the cows wouldn’t be walking with me along the fence, every time they see me.
What’s the most magical moment you had so far?
It was when I had to spend one night on a hill, with a lot of rain, thunder and lightning just above us. Clouds were super low and my eyes were getting blinded for a few seconds at every strike.
Currito was very scared and wanted to run away so I took his lead rope to hold it and sit under the tree with him, watching the ground, being as calm and confident as I can be. He looked at me, put his head down to the ground and didn’t move at all. If I would move my head a bit to see the lightning, he would do that too, but he was just as calm as I was. It was an incredible experience to see how much he trusted me.
Also while I was sitting there I thought “I don’t mind if I die tonight as I would die happy”. This is also how I feel about all of our trips. Is it better to die happy or to live unhappily?
What does slow travel mean for you?
It’s the most educating way of travelling that I have ever experienced. I learned to follow the signs and suggestions that life gives me. I start to see that there is something special out there that takes care of us. Now I enjoy nature at a level never experienced before.
Are you collecting funding for your trip or other projects?
I got Cavallo hoof boots for free: that’s all our sponsor! I am super thankful to Cavallo hoof boots. As it’s been a great help! I can’t imagine any other better hoof wear for Currito. It allows me to don’t worry about his hoof’s trimming too fast or iron shoes coming off and breaking his hoof. I defiantly recommend boots instead of iron shoes!
I tried to do crowdfunding for the second horse last year, but I am happy it didn’t work. Our trip is very open and it’s about the way, not the destination, I don’t want to feel the need to get somewhere or achieve something as a promise to someone on this trip. If people want to discover more and see where our trip without a clear direction will take us, they can follow Currito’s facebook page.
How much is the average cost for such a trip?
You can get by with around 1500 euros to start with if you know where to buy things. But, at least for me, it took time to learn that!
Horse products are expensive! If you can get a pack saddle, saddlebags, horseshoes, a horse, food, horse ropes, solar panel to charge your phone, raincoats, tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mattress, personal shoes and a good map on your phone, all for 1500 euros, it might not be the best quality, but it’s doable.
If you buy a cheap horse it’s better if you know how to train it. And there is paperwork that needs to be done. You need a farm number for the passport of your horse, and insurance for the horse, for that you need to have NE number in Spain. Also, there is an extra paper that you need to get to legally travel with a horse in Spain.
I have all of those but no one ever asked for it. If an accident ever happens, they will.
The cost of Food? I eat vegan/vegetarian and my horse gets around 2-1 kg extra food every day, plus free grass! Horse food is around 11 euro every 20 kg. Much depends on where you buy it and what type.
There are other expenses: sometimes the horse gets sick, which means expensive vet bills. It’s better to be prepared and have some extra savings!
Where do you stay at night?
Most of the time we camp somewhere in the countryside. Sometimes we stay at people’s places.
What is your plan for the future?
The plan is to go north, to find a place where we would be happy. I would like to live on a small farm while doing some work with animals and people. If you listen to animals they can tell us a lot about ourselves and teach how to improve ourselves.
Update 10th of May 2019
[Grace is currently looking for a travel companion/volunteer helper in Spain. Read her announcement on Voluntouring magazine]
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