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Profile of David Smith

PROFILE DAVID SMITH

At Unicorn Trails we are very pleased that horse riding holidays are amongst David's many interests. David's involvement with Unicorn Trails has been in existance for a number of years and was expanded in 2006. As well as being a director and undertaking the internet marketing, David goes on exploratory rides to assess new locations and acts as an escort on larger group rides. Amongst others he has ridden in Morocco, Spain, Ireland, Iceland,Sweden, Argentina, Chile, Jordan, Russia and Ethiopia.

David also owns several horses - see below for a list with pictures of horses he owns or has ridden on his many riding holidays. Click for personal accounts of his many horse riding adventures in the countries above.

Apart from horses David also has time to be a model engineer, to ride his horses and occasionally to visit steam railways.  David was an active volunteer on the Ffestiniog Railway in the 1960s and has long been an advocate for the restoration of the Welsh Highland Railway, in North Wales, where he now volunteers as a steam fitter and fireman for an occasional weeks during the summer. David also helps to manage Rushymeade, 20 acres of wildlife in Pulloxhill, Bedfordshire, for which he has two old tractors (Ferguson TED20 and MF35X) and a few contemporary implements. 

  Horses

Fern - 15.3 Arab X mare
David's mare, Fern

15.1hh Arab x Hunter mare - 27 years old, but she doesn't seem to know it.

Fern - She's a sort of 'classic sports car' - not new but she still has a powerful motor!  As we do not do much road work, about two years ago, I left off her hind shoes and last year left off her front shoes, also.  She seems quite content with this and her feet are fine.

see also Want to Buy a Horse

Claude 17.1 Clydesdale X Thoroughbred
Claude

17.1hh Clydesdale x Thoroughbred gelding - 12 years old, my 'new' horse to give Fern a bit of a rest.

Claude - A gentle giant with a very kind nature.  From a local, former riding school, he was an instructor's horse - he's happy to lead, or follow, or to go out alone.  He doesn't do anything special so he's ideal for me as all I wish to do is hack out on the local Bedfordshire bridleways.  We have are learning natural horsemanship, particularly Parelli and Australian Natural Horsemanship, and we've become firm friends!

Berber/Arab stallion in High Atlas Mountains, Morocco
Nassim

15.3hh Berber/Arab stallion

Nassim - In May 2004, I had an adventure in Morocco with Nassim, a Berber/Arab stallion.  The horse riding holiday was a trial run of the High Atlas Explorer, arranged specially for Unicorn Trails.  It started in the desert at a kasbah in a palm plantation in Skoura, traversed the High Atlas Mountains (pass of Tizi-n-Tichka at 8000ft, 2400 metres) and finished at the Plains of Marrakech.  The trip was 230 miles (370km) and involved ten and a half days of riding.  See some pictures of my adventure in Morocco

David and Hasni
Hasni

15.1hh Spanish Arab gelding

Hasni - I rode on the Aragon Trail, Spain, in mid October last year, when the weather would normally have been very pleasant but, especially for me, it was rather wet!  Hasni was a very willing horse who needed but the slightest suggestion to do what I wanted.  Bertrand, our guide, has trained all his horses very naturally and, although we had bitless bridles for insurance purposes, they could all be ridden by near beginners in a rope halter, if necessary.

David and Nassim
Nassim again

15.3hh Berber/Arab stallion

I rode Nassim again this year.  I was an escort for Unicorn Trails to a party of riders who raised a charity on the Moroccan Horse Trek Challenge.  This was a special version of the Skoura to Tarbahlt Desert Trail which ended with a gallop to our final camp, nestled in the crescent of a sand dune.

David and Rodi
Rodi

I rode Icelandic horses on the Glacier Trail through Kjölur in the central highlands of Iceland -160 miles in five and a half days.  Before Unicorn Trails offers a riding holiday destination, a senior person in the company has to check it out - it's a tough job but somebody has to do it!  We had 73 Icelandic horses for 20 riders and we each changed horses once or twice every day; the unridden horses ran free with us.  Pictures from the Glacier trail

David and Bull
Bull

I went on another exploratory ride for Unicorn Trails: the Forest and Lakes Trail in Sweden, riding with Natural Horsemanship as the heart of the experience.  The North Swedish Horses (cold bloods) are powerful but biddable animals, real ‘diesels’ in their performance (bit slow to warm up but they go and go and go!)  Picture and more text about the Forest and Lakes Trail.

David started his career in Agricultural Engineering before entering academic life. In 1976, David took up a Graduate Teaching Assistantship in the Department of Agricultural Engineering at Iowa State University, where he gained my MS degree.  David then joined the staff (faculty) of the Department of Civil Engineering where he gained his PhD in Geotechnical Engineering and a post as Assistant Professor to teach and undertake research in soil mechanics. 

Eventually David accepted a lectureship at Silsoe College, Cranfield University, from where he had graduated 12 years earlier.  At about this time he gained Chartered Engineering status. Although David acquired tenure, after four years he 'moved across the road' to the Silsoe Research Institute.The opportunity arose to take 'early retirement' with a sizeable financial incentive he took it and left in 1999.

Having left academic life, David was not sure what to do next.  Now, if he was to have made a list of 100 things he might do next, starting a business would not have been on it!  Nevertheless, David and a friend founded Receptional, an internet marketing company, which has proved very successful. David ended his day to day involvement in the summer of 2006, whilst retaining his role as a director and a modest salary, so that he can now follow other interests which fortuntaely for us includes horse riding.