|If you’re weighing the pleasures of tourism against the discomfort of going abroad at a time when our country seems widely abhorred, you might want to consider savoring a new way of traveling: on horseback|
If you’re weighing the pleasures of tourism against the discomfort of going abroad at a time when our country and culture seem widely abhorred, you might want to consider savoring a new way of making an entrance into that picturesque Provence village. Leave the trains, cars and tour buses to others. What really elicits a warm welcome from locals abroad is arriving in town on horseback.
“Anywhere in the world – Iceland, Tierra del Fuego; France, India – local people greet riders in an overwhelmingly open and friendly way; there’s an instant rapport,” says Bayard Fox, the founder of Equitours, the oldest and largest riding vacation company in the United States. “Horses aren’t just a great passport to some of the most beautiful spots in the world, they are a passport to the hearts of people everywhere.”
Fox, who, with his wife, Mel, has spent the better part of twenty-five years taking Americans to every part of the globe on equestrian vacations, is no stranger to chilly foreign relations. A former CIA operative from the Cold War era, he’s spent years living in Paris, riding with nomadic tribes in Iran, and posing as a big game hunter in Central Africa, all to gather information for the U.S. during the 50s and 60s. His knowledge of foreign cultures is enormous; and his experience has been invaluable in carefully choosing the world’s best riding tours in places that highlight natural beauty, cultural interests, and riders’ safety.
Combining his love of world travel and horses satisfies Fox’s craving for the romance, excitement, and color of exotic locales. It is a passion he loves sharing with others, especially as a way of counteracting some of the preconceived notions and misperceptions foreigners have about Americans and Americans have about the world.
“Sometimes, I feel like I’m a missionary to show people the advantages of traveling on horseback.,” says Fox. “Riders are not limited to the roads and can see parts of a country that most tourists never dream of. They have time to look at the country they traverse and it is easy for them to talk with people along the way.”
It’s incredibly gratifying to show the people in the places we travel to that Americans are curious, open, generous, adventurous people,” he adds.
Indeed, although Equitours draws diverse groups of people from all walks of life, even all levels of riding skills, which the company takes special care to match to the appropriate riding vacation, they all share the willingness to truly explore. Whether its galloping after zebra in Kenya, touring castles in France, or exploring the Pelion Coast of Greece, the common denominator is a love of adventure and an openness to new experiences. For the impression they leave about Americans in the people they meet along the way, Bayard considers them true American ambassadors.
About the Author
Adrienne Heald is a freelance writer who extensively covers the fields of travel and leisure, health & fitness, and public policy. She is based in Park Slope, Brooklyn.
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