Marion is a French girl who has always been fond of travels and horses and that, guided by fortune, has found a house, love and… other horses in Greece, on Skyros island. There, she manages together with her partner Manolis, Mouries Farm, a centre for the preservation of the Skyrian horses. The Skyrian horse is one of the most ancient (and adorable!) horse breed but, unfortunately, it is at serious risk of extinction, as there are just about one hundred of specimens all over the world.
I had the opportunity to volunteer there one year ago and I grew fond of her story.
Which was your first solo travel?
HI’ve travelled alone since I was 16 years old, but then I used to join some organizations where I volunteered with other people. My real first solo travel was in 2009 when, while I was spending a 7-month period volunteering in Greece, I hitch-hiked to Istanbul with the aim of spending some days there alone.
Why do you like travelling alone?
Definitely, I love travelling with my boyfriend or with friends and sharing adventures with them but when you leave alone every single step is only your own decision.
This way, you meet with yourself in unimaginable ways by doing things that you hadn’t ever done staying at home or travelling with someone else. You face happy or sad moments alone and this helps you to realize that you are strong enough and that you don’t need anyone to live a full and happy life – even if sharing still remains one of the most beautiful things in life. And, most of all, you learn to recognise and appreciate your own company as something that will never leave you. For me, travelling alone is one of the most enriching experiences someone can live.
I travel alone because it gives me a sense of freedom that you can’t find travelling with someone else.
Now you are living in Greece. How did you get on Skyros island and why have you fallen in love with it?
Ever since I can remember I have been a horse lover. When I was a child I read about Skyrian horses in several magazines and, since I have started to be interested in Greece, I desired to visit Skyros and to see these little horses. During my first year at the University I had the big luck of meeting a good friend who knew very well Skyros and who gave me the number of Manolis, telling me that this guy had several horses and that perhaps he would have liked some help for taking care of them. I called Manolis: it was full-on winter, I introduced myself and I asked him if he needed help with the horses during the summer. He was quite surprised of hearing of a French girl who came out of nowhere and was asking to spend the summer at his place, but he accepted immediately! Obviously I fell in love with the island during that first summer. There I had all I could have ever dreamed of: horses, mountains and perhaps the most important thing, love. Manolis and me, we have continued to manage the horses together since then and the farm has developed and now is one of the most important centre for the preservation of the Skyrian horses in Greece.
Let’s talk about the farm.
The farm has two principal aims: one is the breeding, which allows us to prevent the Skyrian horses from extinction, and the other is spreading the knowledge of these animals to children and tourists. We are opened during all the most important Greek festivities and during the whole summer and we offer tours on horse for children and information for all the visitors on the present situation of this horse breed and on what we can do to save it. At the moment we have 40 Skyrian horses, some other horses and two donkeys. The money we earn from visits and tours allows us to feed and take care of the horses during the winter. Without it we couldn’t be able to do what we are doing: the costs for the horses are high and we don’t receive any municipal or national contribution.
How can travellers help this project and Skyrian horses?
Travellers who pass by Skyros island can pay for a visit to the centre and learn more on these wonderful horses. Obviously any economical support is welcome, be it both a donation or becoming membres of our non-profit organization. It is also possible to adopt a horse by sending every year the money necessary for food and medical care and in exchange we send photos and news about the horse, apart from offering the possibility of spending time with him anytime you are in Skyros island. Whoever is also willing to buy a horse can contact us and speak with us.