When Lizzie Graham, Joan and Xavier Ferrer, the three cowboys from Nautracavall heard about the recent flooding in the Allen Graham Charity shop in Cas Catala they felt compelled to do something. “We knew that it would cost a fortune to sort out, and they had lost so much money from the stock being ruined, and we thought, what can we do to help?” The answer is an ambitious plan to ride around the island, 411 kilometres in total, on their rescued horses, camping out in the wild and visiting towns as they go around.
Where did they get this big idea from? I asked Lizzie. “We do a lot of wild riding, sometimes staying out for four or five days when we take guests on excursions and we’ve often spoken about riding around the island. Since the quarantine it has really affected our small operation but we decided that it would not bring us down and that we would work to really help others who are in need. We are aiming to raise 10,000€ and we have already been donated 1,400€ and we haven’t even begun! The response has been mind blowing, amazing!”
The Allen Graham Charity 4 Kidz provides homes and life skills for children that have been in care for most of their lives and have nowhere to go once they turn 18. Founded in 1992, over the last 28 years the charity has helped hundreds of children. The President, Rosemary Graham says the charity has had a very difficult ride during the lockdown, “Financial support is crucial now more than ever, to help these young adults in these very uncertain times. Ride to Rescue will be a lifeline for us”.
Naturacavall is based in Manacor where dad Joan, son Xavier and Lizzie all work together to rescue ex-trotting horses which are on their way to the knacker’s yard. “When we get them we have to rehabilitate them. Most of these horses which are used for trotting just know their stable and the track, they have not had the opportunity to socialise with other horses, or to play or to be in a paddock or outside in nature. So we have to take it step by step to bring them back to their natural condition. It is a process that they go through and it is really wonderful to see them become happier”.
The Naturacavall threesome have been working together since March 2019 when they launched their initiative to offer riding excursions in the Majorcan countryside. “Everyone who comes to ride with us we encourage them to get involved with Majorca culture. We are very spontaneous, after a ride you may end up eating with us or we may all go for a beer or pop into a neighbour’s home. They really love showing visitors their piglets and so on! We really feel like we are bringing the locals and the international expat community together through our expeditions.” Having ridden on the island I personally know that the landscape will offer a lot of challenges to them as they ride around it. “It’s not like we will be walking on the roads,” Manda Beaver, one of the ‘guest riders’ who will be joining the trek tells me, “We will be crossing rivers and mountains!” How do you become a ‘guest rider’? “You have to apply to Naturcavall, the idea is that there will be two Naturacavall riders and a guest rider on each leg of the trip”. Manda tells me that the group will be adhering to public health regulations and will be carrying a full human and horse first aid kit. “We also have a network of vets across the island who we have contacted in case we need any support along the way”. Which towns are you looking forward to riding through? I ask Manda, “The island is so diverse, but I think I will really enjoy riding through Puigpunyent because that’s my town!”
In addition to the physical challenges of the trek, there are also the practical and current challenges. Where will they stay every night? How will they eat? How will they feed and water the horses? “We will be riding very early in the morning and always stop by 10am because of the sun in the summer.” says Lizzie, “We will need places where the horses can rest for the day in the shade. Ideally they will be able to be turned out into a paddock for them to relax. Then we will ride on in the evening and camp out or stay with people who can put us up. We are looking for people who can bring us a hot meal or a bale of hay for the horses at various points on the route, so it would be lovely if any of the Majorca Daily Bulletin readers could get in touch if they felt they could help”. If they do camp out overnight they take it in turns to stay on watch to make sure the horses are okay, and there will be times when they will have to carry packs into the mountains and won’t be able to get the physical support they need.
“We have permission from certain land owners to ride across their land which wil be helpful when we want to avoid something the horses may find difficult. We have a very complex GPS system which we use, and we will be wearing hiking boots, not riding boots as we will have to get off and walk ourselves as well. But we have no time limits, it will take as long as it takes.” The team is not just the riders, but the horses as well and there are 18 of them which will be rotated throughout the challenge in order to rest them. Their welfare is paramount. Even on a regular day the work at Naturacavall is from dawn to dusk. “We are pushed to our maximum, all day every day non stop keeping the show on the road. Everyone who is involved in the Naturacaval project is very passionate about what they are doing. The three of us are completely different and all very strong characters but we are very good as a team. We have these amazing volunteers who come in and support us who are young Majorcans. I think that is why we feel so connected to the Allen Graham Charity. Rosemary has given every part of herself to the project, it is about family and really caring for people. That’s what is important in the end.”
And what about the “C” word? The COVID-19 lockdown has meant no one has been able to ride until recently, and definitely not around the island. “We now have permission to do it,” Lizzie says, “but we are waiting for the right time. We were hoping to start soon, but we want to wait and see how the island feels before we begin. We want to be able to ride into the villages and towns that we pass through and people feel happy to see us, not anxious! We want to do it when it is safe and also document the island as we go, and we want to tell people about the amazing agrotourism here. We have this vision of riding into towns and popping into bars for a beer or a coffee with the horses! We want to bring the community together and have some fun doing it, so we have even spoken about doing some line dancing, cowboy style! There is social distance between each of the dancers, so why not?!”
There are many similarities I think between Naturacavall and the Allen Graham Charity, both giving individuals a chance to improve themselves, be part of a community and make a difference themselves. It seems like a perfect partnership for them to support each other. If you would like to support Ride to Rescue you can make a donation at https://www.gofundme.com/f/hngmzs-ride-to-rescue
And, Lizzie finishes up by saying, “We know a lot of people don’t have any money at the moment, but there are ways you can support us. Tell your friends about the ride, share this article on Facebook, like and share our page on Facebook, spread the word. I know that we will reach our target, I just know it!”
If you would like to help with the Ride to Rescue, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Lizzie on +34 617107532. Follow their progress on Instagram or Facebook. Show your support and tag them in your social media posts using #r2rmallorca2020