The TATA Challenge

On 15th of March, 2004, the TATA (Travels Across the Americas) Challenge reached its grand finale in New York city. I trotted through Central Park towards Times Square with two of my loyal and faithful equine companions amidst many stares and friendly smiles from curious New Yorkers. At the far end waited my mom (a surprise!), friends and loved ones from Ireland.

With me was Toto, a Tennessee Walking Horse with attitude and big dreamy eyes who had been part of TATA for the stretch through the United States. Mise, my beloved Mare who shared in so many of the joys and tribulations since I started this journey in Argentina in June 2002 was on the leading rope.

As we were basking in the warm winter sun, trotting through the tranquil park, I fondly remembered Tusa and Tu Fein, who sadly had gone to a more peaceful place. Their unfailing willingness to please and work hard for the duration of our trip made a major contribution to the success of the adventure.

Camanchi (who has since been returned to his owners in Georgia) was an Appaloosa with a soft and consistent character. He showed his worth for the three months I had him in the United States while I waited for Mise to get through quarantine. He would remain in my heart forever.

Even though I travelled with no assistance or companions, I relied heavily on the help and goodwill of those we encountered along the way. Not to mention the generosity and support of so many in Ireland who had made it possible for me to undertake this trip in the first place.

My heartfelt thanks to everybody who made a contribution, however small. Essentially, the initial aim of the TATA Challenge was to undertake an adventure that was to challenge my own personal beliefs and boundaries. It was also about expressing thanks for a full life. From setting up and running the Project, organising fundraising and travelling across two continents on the back of a horse, I wanted to promote the belief that with passion and determination our dreams can become a reality and challenges can be overcome.

But as the project evolved in the planning stages, I realised that I could simultaneously create more awareness for the need for therapeutic riding facilities in Ireland. And so as the trip took shape, I got hooked on the idea of independently setting up an equestrian centre for children with special needs.

After researching the idea in earnest following completion of my trip, I became acquainted with the Pegasus Project.

Pegasus is a small, therapeutic riding centre that has been operating very successfully in Sligo since it opened in April 2003. Such is their success they are now seeking to expand and establish a new, larger facility nearer Sligo town. But as a voluntary non-profit making organisation, Pegasus is reliant on fundraising to turn its vision for the future into reality.

When I finally met the founder of the Project, I knew in my heart that this was where my support should be concentrated. I made the decision to collaborate with them and assist them, both financially and practically, in their endeavours to establish a unique, state of the art Therapeutic Riding Centre.

Please go the Therapeutic Riding section for more information.

P.S. You can read up more about my Challenge by reading my book: "Crying with Cockroaches"