In June 2002, just 3 months after our wedding, I had a bad car accident which changed our lives. At that time I had my own office and a reasonably successful Accountancy practice. Following the car accident it was agony to sit at my desk and type or move a mouse even. Obviously this had quite a dramatic effect on my business! During this time I realised that I no longer wanted to be tied to a desk, I yearned for a healthy lifestyle, in nature which I had always loved, surrounded by animals. Thankfully, Kevin had the same yearning after taking early redundancy from the London printing job at Canary Wharf following 9/11. We had a dream to build together a new life in the sun.
After a year of recuperation I was strong enough to plan and we made our first trip to Spain to look for property. We fell in love with an area of cave houses, deep in Andalucia and thought that everyone would love them too! How wrong we were, it was too remote and too Spanish (!) for most tourists and after a lovely 18 months of trying to build a business we sold what we had built and headed for the Costa del Sol and a job back doing Accountancy work. This was July 2005. I thought at that time it would be for a year or two while we found our feet, but unfortunately it has been 12 long years and this year I have decided would be the last.
In 2010 we started building the original dream again when we happened to find Orion (Kevin’s horse of a lifetime), in a small shed with no windows and about a metre of old droppings. The owner wanted 4,000 euros for him and we had none, but we managed to agree a monthly payment plan and he became the start of the new plan. During the next year we grew and obtained another 10 horses to use in the business, including my horse Crazy, and started advertising. Fast forward four years, two more locations and reinvention of Rancho Acebuchal, in July 2014 we found we had to move on again. I was gutted, we had finally built a thriving business and we were fully booked all through the summer. But the landlord wanted to sell the property and we had no choice. Our last guest left on 31st August and we began the move on 1st September. 20 horses, 10 dogs and 2 cats! It was quite a challenge!
And so we started again at Finca Fuente la Teja, the current home of Rancho Acebuchal. A beautiful finca which had been deserted for 2 years and had weeds a metre high in the outdoor arena! I loved it, the views were spectacular and the sun rising over the Mediterranean turning the mountains red as it rises still catches my breath. As is often the case in Spain, we also inherited another mouth to feed – a mare belonging to the owner who would not load to be moved! But the dream was still there – to build a centre for visitors to enjoy and share the joy of our horses. The finca needed much work and still needed my salary to support it and I ended up working more hours and commuting over an hour to Gibraltar to carry on working. Again, I thought it was only a matter of time…. I am now pleased to say I will be full time in the business in September 2017. I am also very excited to be working towards my personal lifetime goal of instructing Pilates and will be offering “Equipilates”at the Ranch from Spring 2018 in my new studio.
During the last year we have brought in our partner and Chief Instructor, Monica Andreewitch and we have made considerable progress. We offer holidays and experiences for all ages and abilities incorporating our concept of no metal (no bit and no shoes). Monica has developed her own Softness and Connection training program and is becoming well known locally for her fabulous horsemanship skills and knowledge.
Orion is the star of our dressage team with Sonia his rider and Monica training them both, joined by Heleo del Rio (from the same breeder as Orion) ridden by Katie.
We are looking forward to a very successful 2017 and look forward to meeting old and new friends to share with us all the joy of horses.
Thank you for reading, Glenda Smithson April 2017.