It's hard to really pinpoint where this story starts but I'll offer this - "long may it continue"
On the island there is a man known as David. He's also known as the "Horse Whisperer". In the northern and picturesque village of Sant Joan, stories started to reach my ears. A hidden, almost secret valley just minutes away in which horses, under Davids careful eye, are nursed back to good health - emotionally, spiritually and physically. Horses that have been rescued from lives of horror, pain and heartbreaking mistreatment.
More stories came to light - tales of children, themselves challenged in life with physical or mental issues spending time at this horse sanctuary because the heartbeat of a horse is known to be beneficial to the childs wellbeing.
Stories that Kate Burns (formerly of Google, AOL, Bebo, Dailymotion - to name but a few - and winner of Internet Business Woman of the Year 2012 (Red Magazine)) with husband Steve Tabb, had donated land to keep safe these magnificent animals.
I caught up with the twinkling eyed, dry humoured David and broached the idea of a visit. Whilst his mischievous self is never far from the surface, his demeanour changed and it was immediately obvious that I was talking to a man of quite an extraordinary, albeit understated, passion; a man who would go - indeed it transpired, had gone - to great lengths to look after these creatures.
Ibiza Horse Valley is the result and the above stories all transpired to be true - but again, it's not the end of it. The horse sanctuary is a charity, the land donated by Kate and Steve and run by David and his friend, Cosima Jung.
Driving down into that valley was something of an experience itself - bumpy and rough would be an understatement and I was in a 4x4! - but gosh, it was worthwhile. Parking, David welcomes you to a shack - saddle room, bathroom, rest area, basic kitchen, porch with a great sofa. The timber structure is his latest accomplishment.
Walking down even deeper to the valley floor, David led us to the eight horses currently under his care. Hearing us coming the horses didn't shy away as one might expect with their traumatised histories but instead, with ears keenly pricked, they walked up to meet us. David explained as Indio, an Appaloosa and head of the herd, stepped up, that Indio had to check us out first before any of the others would approach too closely. Sure enough Indio walked right up to me, sniffed, gave me the gentlest of nudges.
Then up came the others - Clown, sedate, just seemed to want to know if we had anything to eat; Mylo, a surprise to the sanctuary and wanting to nibble sandals, was born just weeks after his mother, also at the sanctuary, was rescued for the abbottoir. At nine months old, he was a complete child, trying to taste everything until gently scolded.
With me on the visit was Lauren. With Davids encouragement and her eyes wide with delight, she sat astride Clown, bareback. Moments later, and again under Davids guidance, she stood on Clowns back.
Had she ever done either before? No! She was thrilled.
David explained his wish to bring these horses back to the lives they deserved, to re-aquaint them with being in a herd, to help them recover from their former lives and where appropriate, re-home them. There was no doubt he was doing an outstanding job. I wanted to applaud.
To help finance the sanctuary, to help both the horses and people who love horses, David and Cosima decided to offer treks and rides and indeed more besides. The countryside in the north, although much is scarred by the fire of 2011, is nonetheless stunning and riding through the hills is spectacular enough. However they also offer beach trekking and camping out with the horses - there's something to suit everyone, at every level of horsemanship (or indeed no prior experience), those challenged children mentioned earlier, included.
It was with the utmost reluctance that I finally admitted it was time for us to leave. Ibiza and its people inspire me almost daily but this visit really took it up a level.
If you'd like to arrange a trek or indeed a visit, to offer any support to the horse sanctuary, please (please!) contact Ibiza Horse Valley
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