For centuries, horses have transported humans across continents but this spring, horse trainer Emma Massingale will turn the tables when she cycles across Europe carrying two miniature equines in a specially-adapted tricycle.
The free rider and film-maker will start her journey in Switzerland, following the Rhine across Europe until she returns to the UK around six weeks later.
The trip is the latest in a line of dramatic horse-themed adventures Emma has undertaken. Last year, she horse-boarded across the 10 islands of the Outer Hebrides with two young Eriskay ponies, while in 2015 she spent a month on a remote Irish island backing six unhandled Connemaras.
This time her partners will be two-year olds Stanley, a miniature Shetland Stanley and miniature appaloosa horse Percy, both of whom are untrained.
“I am always looking for different equine adventures and I quite liked the irony as horses always used to pull us,” Emma said.
“Whatever I choose has to be ethical and long-distance trips do make me question how much the horse enjoys it. I want to enhance my relationship with them without having to physically exhaust them or ask anything of them — this way it means that I get fit and they don’t have to worry about it!”
Emma has already started practising with short trips out in the custom-built cargo bike and horse compartment, which was co-designed by her father who is an architect.
“It includes a shelf for my dachshund and a space for my bivvy bag — I’ll be taking minimal equipment for me and camping as we go, although people have offered to host us for the night,” Emma explained.
“I picked the two young miniatures to take as they weigh less — it’s about 200kg — and it is pretty hard work on the legs.”
She anticipates that she will only be travelling for an hour or so at a time with the ponies in between stops.
The ponies can be seen coming to the rescue, complete with blue-flashing lights and full first aid kits, ready to perform their
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“I’m cycling every day with the ponies in the back to get them and myself used to it — I muck out 16 horses a day anyway, so I’m fairly strong,” she said. “I’m trying not to over-prepare though so I don’t scare myself and put myself off!”
Unlike Emma’s other trips, where she has often been alone in the wilderness with the horses, this is a trek which she hopes will involve more people.
“My miniatures make me laugh every day and when I have made videos with them, they’ve had 10million views,” she added, “I know they make people smile.
“We’ll be stopping in at a few places, including a school and some tack shops where I hope we can inspire some people. They are untrained ponies, so I will be sharing my techniques and training style as we go.
“The plan is to set lots of nice little goals and have some people join us along the way.”
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