Tag Archives: #horsebackriding

Locked in Petra

Horseback riding in Wadi Rum on the dunes
Horseback riding in Wadi Rum on the dunes, my son on Samiha

In Petra one should be happy, a beautiful envirement, the site Petra within reach, mountains around. A nice home. But Samiha and me were not happy. Samiha had to work in Petra as I was not able to ride her regularly. Because many times I could not leave the home, I was not allowed to go by myself. Where I would find someone for a horseback ride with me? The brothers took her to Petra to let strangers ride on her from the visitor’s center to the Siq and back. When I was able to visit her she was not the same as before. Her head down. Staring at me with pathetic eyes.

Samiha lost

One day the brothers told me she was not in her stable when they wanted to take her to work. I was in panic, my lovely horse gone. Many had an eye on her because she was so beautiful. But I didn’t want to let her go even when her situation was not how I wanted. Together we came, together we would be strong. I was in hope for better times. We would move to another home and then she would be nearby, next to the home. But now she had left. Her door had a lock that she could not open by herself… How many scenerario’s went through my head, but all the time I came back to the fact that someone had taken her. Instead of everyone searching to her in the valley where some water was and also grass, nobody was looking at her. I didn’t know yet that things go different in Jordan. The brothers did some research, asking the horse guys if someone had seen her. After two days and two sleepless nights they told me she was found. Someone had seen her in the valley and brought her in his barn. So she came back, again different then how I knew her.


We moved up the mountain, she got a nice place in a half open stable, next to the home. Together with the horse of the brother. But it was not for long. The neighbours started to complain that the horses smelled and were too close to the home. But there was no other place at that moment to bring her.

Brenda with her Arabian horse Samiha in the mountains of Petra
Brenda with her Arabian horse Samiha in the mountains of Petra


One day I heard from my husband that Samiha was free again. The neighbour had made a fire in her stable but fortunately before he did, he moved the horses out. No stable anymore. We found her nearby, they put an iron chain on her foot. I didn’t agree with this but I had to shut my mouth. I was with her every day. After the summer she lost the foal there. This story is written in a previous blog. Also my life was not good. My husband had a story that someone put the black eye on him because they didn’t agree about our marriage or they were jealous. It affected daily life. The doors in our home went open or closed by themselves, many things got broken or started their own life, I found things on other places, a blanket cut with the sharpest knife in the home… Lamps turning on and of, a haunted home. And my husband was not okay. In those days the physical abuse started and many strange ideas started to form in his mind. But we would move again. This time to the home next to his parents. When I came to Petra I knew already that we would live in this home but it was not finished yet. And of course I hoped everything would be fine then.


The second winter came. In the mountains it is very cold and Samiha was living almost on top of the mountain in the cold wind. In winter it can snow in Petra. She has a warm blanket but the nights are shiffering cold. We moved the horses in the empty, not finished home to be protected from the cold weather. She liked it, and she was closeby. Everyday I brought her treats, she seemed happier. But I had to ask many times to clean the stable as the horses stood in a dirty area. It was not done to do this myself as a woman… At least it was the best place till that moment.

Samiha sick

When we started to build the home to live there the horses had to move out. They went to the valley again, far away from the home. I didn’t get permission to see her. Once in a while she came back for a shower. She became ill. I wanted the vet to see her. He couldn’t find anything but made the suggestion that maybe she drank contaminated water from the valley. I could not check if she had clean water every day because it was not available at her stable. I felt sick because of her and was not able to do anything. Everytime again and again I asked how she was, if she got enough food and water and all the time they told me she was fine. Till she became sick. The veterinarian gave her anti-biotics, vitamins and she needed infusions, about ten! bottles. The vet had no time, he did the first and asked who could do the rest. He looked up very strange when I told him to do this. The father of my husband said to the vet that it was okay for me to do this work. The horse was next to the home and one after another I changed the infusions. Samiha knew it was good, she accepted me to do this. All the time I sat next to her, talking nice things. But she knew…

Samiha, a real desert horse
Samiha, a real desert horse


After the treatment she became a little better but not the same horse I brought two years ago. She worked a little but became ill again and again. Still I had the thoughts and hope we would find a better place for her, that I could see her again every day and take care of her, wishfull thinking. I have to admit that my husband never became the same as how he was when I met him. But I was still hoping for a better life. I believed his nice words that he would work on our future and that he would change when everything went better. One day he came with the message he would bring me to Samiha because she was dying. Only then??? I was so angry that he didn’t tell me earlier, everything went well all the time when I asked and then at once she was dying? The volunteer at that moment with me visited her a few days ago and although not 100%, she took pictures, Samiha was looking quit well. I took an apple with me. I was sad, but I didn’t want to cry to be strong for her. The volunteer was with me. When we came to her stable, Samiha was laying down. I gave her the apple.

Warning from my horse

Always she was taking every treat very carefully, but this time she grabbed it from my hand, biting me and…she destroyed my wedding ring… It was her message to me. She could not stand up. She was laying in the water. I managed her with united forces to stand up, but she could not walk. Three steps would save her life, I thought. She did it, but collapsed immediately again. I called my husband to help us but only two small boys came. There was an empty dry stable if she could come there. But nobody would help. Everything what I found in the area I put on her, blankets, carpets to stay warm. The next day the vet would come. I could not sleep, wanted to go to her very early in the morning, but it was not allowed. I was cooking inside. Angry, sad, I had to go to my horse. But in the same time I was so scared. The abuse went worse, he could have killed me if I would go. Later I heard she died that day, before the vet came. I had enough from all the lies told to me. I had enough of being in Wadi Musa, it was not my place. I have cried for days, it was my fault, I thought. I understood the message from Samiha very well. I packed my stuff to leave this place. The abuse was not only physical I knew, mentally, emotionally I was brainwashed. I was very scared and it blocked me to think clear.

Brenda with Arabian horse Samiha and Saluki Warda
Brenda with Arabian horse Samiha and Saluki Warda


After everything was packed my husband came to me, he was very sad, he loved me, he could not live without me, he would improve his life, he would give me more permissions. I believed him and unpacked. And packed again. And unpacked another time. The third time I packed I was sure I would not listen to him anymore. But it was not a question of just going. I was in Jordan. My husband could stop me, even if I was already on the road. He could even find me and bring me back. In that time he checked everything, took one of my telephones, didn’t put any credit on the other one because he didn’t want me to be in the connection with others. Many times he forbid me to open my laptop, to work… He checked everything on the laptop… But in the end, with the help of the Dutch embassy with who I connected on a secret email account, I could make my escape. I was afraid if I wouldn’t go now it would cost my life too like Samiha.

If you like to know where I am now and what I do, visit our website Jordan Desert Journeys. Or connect to me on facebook.

I’m writing a book now about my desert life in Jordan. With many more stories, check it on the fb page: Een leven in de woestijn.

Next time the last blog about Petra. How a house changed into a barn.

HRH Princess Alia, our visit to the Royal Stables

Visit of the Royal Stables Princess Alia
Visit of the Royal Stables Princess Alia

Our guest Julia (from Russia, living in Turkey at that time and horse lover) brought up her wishes once she would come to Jordan. First she wanted to ride a horse around Petra. Second and since very long time on her bucket list, a visit to the Royal Stables. Third, sleeping in the Wadi Rum.

We put everything together in an itinerary for her and a friend who would join.

Royal Stables Princess Alia Amman
Royal Stables Princess Alia Amman

The Royal stables were the last on the list early morning before their flight back from Amman.

The stables are situated in a beautiful suburb of Amman. Once there we could visit all the horses freely and got a demonstration of the white stallion. We were so delighted to see all those beautiful horses.

Demonstration of the Royal Stud
Demonstration of the Royal Stud

I was hypnosed by the blue eyes of some of the horses. Never seen this before. Everything in the stables was an example of how you can stable those beautiful noble creatures. Very clean and neat.


The demonstration of some stallions in the paddock was breathtaking.

Me with a white stallion of the Royal stables of Princess Alia
Me with a white stallion of the Royal stables of Princess Alia

‘Royal Heritage’

HRH Princess Alia is the director of the Royal Stud and wrote the book Royal Heritage.

HRH Princess Alia is the eldest daughter of the late King Hussein and Sharifa Dina, his first wife. Sister to the King of Jordan, Abdullah II bin al-Hussein.  She wrote a book with Peter Upton: ” Royal Heritage“, the story of Jordan’s Arab horses, from the early days of the bedouin tribes to the 21st century, a story closely associated with the Hashemite family of Jordan, direct descendants of the Prophet.

In 1987 Princess Alia, organised the first Arab horse show to be held in Arabia entitled ‘ The Arab Horse at Home’. It was an event which inspired other Arab countries to organise horse shows of their own.

Small Miracles. Book about the Princess Alia Foundation
Small Miracles. Book about the Princess Alia Foundation

‘Small Miracles’

The story of the Princess Alia Foundation.

Small Miracles is co-authored by HRH Princess Alia, and Sharifa Sarra GhaziSmall Miracles, the Story of the Princess Alia Foundation is the account of an extraordinary charitable endeavour. When it was established in 2009, the authors little knew how the Foundation would fundamentally change their lives, as well as the lives of countless others – animal and human.

Written with passion and humour and gloriously illustrated, this book should be compulsory reading in every part of the world, to reawaken the seeds of compassion that live in all mankind but all too often lie dormant through ignorance or social conditioning, to remind us that we share this planet and our destiny with all living things, and to promote the balance, harmony and respect of all creation.

Interview with HRH Princess Alia on Youtube

Royal Stables Princess Alia
Royal Stables Princess Alia

Princess Alia Foundation

Compassion & respect for all creation

In 2009 HRH Princess Alia founded the Princess Alia Foundation (PAF) to address issues relating to human and animal welfare and the environment. The Foundation follows a holistic approach and its message is ‘Compassion and Respect Towards All Creation’.

Patron of Brooke

She has worked with Brooke since 1988. Since then, Brooke has enabled significant improvements in the welfare of working horses in Petra Park. Princess Alia continues to play a vital role in supporting our work to ensure local veterinary care is available for horses and donkeys in Petra and good welfare is maintained.

As a young girl, Princess Alia cared for a Shetland pony, developing a bond with animals that has since blossomed into a strong passion for interacting with animals and all nature in a humane and mutually respectful manner. This is strongly reflected in her attitude towards another major aspect of her work, equestrianism. She is the founder of the Princess Alia Foundation, an organisation established to promote the balance, harmony and respect of all creation. Princess Alia is a vocal and pioneering advocate of animal welfare causes.

As director of the Royal Stables of Jordan for the Preservation of the Arabian Horse, Princess Alia initiated the annual festival of the ‘Arabian Horse at Home’ and organised the Middle East Championships for Purebred Horses. She has been President of the Royal Jordanian Equestrian Federation since 1993.

Remembering a Desert Horse
Remembering a Desert Horse


I attended my first WAHO Conference in Calgary in 1982. My involvement with equestrian activities increased when I became President of the Royal Jordanian Equestrian Federation, a position which I still occupy. The purebred Arabian is involved in showing and endurance riding as well as show jumping in Jordan, and the Federation organizes several of these events including the international Middle East Championships Show, and the Wadi Rum Endurance Ride in some of the most spectacular scenery in Jordan, which are respectively an ECAHO title show and an FEI international 120 Km ride.

Introduction of HRH Princess Alia on WAHO

Wikipedia about HRH Princess Alia

Once I hope to meet HRH Princess Alia, for now I admire her already for her work with animals, their protection and educational programs.

Next time more about my life with horses in Petra.

If you like to know where I am now and what I do, visit our website Jordan Desert Journeys. or our facebook page JordanDesertJourneys. Or connect to me on facebook.

Petra of all places

Petra, the Treasury
Petra, the Treasury

Petra is not only famous for its  archaeological site. Once it was the capital of the Nabatean empire. Later an important city for the Romans. The caves have been used by the Bedouin. Now Petra is one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. A tourist attraction but also famous for the horses living there and working with the tourists.

Special meeting?

In Wadi Musa, a city close to Petra I had a meeting with someone for travelling. But it seemed fate had something else in mind. It is October 2010. After researching and checking the road for horse riding for 25 people from Wadi Rum to Petra through the mountains we, Abdullah, abu Ayman, my son and I, arrived in Wadi Musa. I would stay there in a hotel for the meeting next morning while the others went back. I was tired, dusty and hungry, went to the restaurant next door and ordered a coffee and a sandwich. Meanwhile thinking about drawing the horse eye with pastel chalk of Samiha later in my hotel room.

Someone was sitting behind me, after I finished my meal he started to talk with me. About horses and many other things. I liked his smile and his empathy for what I had been through and his concern. Next day we saw each other again at the travel meeting.

Eye of my dearest desert horse Samiha, drawing
Eye of my dearest desert horse Samiha, drawing

Moving from the desert village to Petra

In December I moved to Petra (Wadi Musa) to stay with him. My horse Samiha went first, 2 days later we followed with all the household, volunteers and 3 dogs. The dogs were the first problem, the home had a small garden but the dogs could escape through the gate. We kept them on the leach. Next morning two of them needed to go to Samiha, who was a bit down the hill in a sort of stable they build already before. Not specially for her, Petra has many horses working on the site. One dog escaped the very first night by biting his leach, the other one stayed. And I kept the Saluki in the home.

In the mountains of Petra
In the mountains of Petra

 Horses in Petra

From the visitor center to the entrance of the Siq, visitor’s can ride on a horse, guided by the owners, most of the time young guys. Actually the price of this horseback riding tour of a few minutes is inside the entrance ticket of Petra. The families who own the horses have a number to get a monthly fee from the entrance tickets, which will go to the family as a small salary. Goal of the boys (son’s of the family) is to get a tip from the riders to have their own income. Too little a tip is hardly accepted, they’ll go for the first prize and are only satisfied with a lot of money,  they will ask for it. Other goal is to offer the riders a tour in the area or to the high place of sacrifice, in my opinion many times for  prices too high. But once in a while they manage to trap the tourists  . I allow everyone a fair income but it is not allowed to swindle the tourists. When I came to Petra I didn’t know about this yet, but when time passed I heard much that I cannot identify with.

The Brooke hospital

Brooke hospital was situated behind the visitor’s centre. All the horses in Petra, riding in front of the carriages were checked every day. Other horses could have a check-up when needed. The boys were taught about the necessary amount and type of food every day, how to take care for the hooves by doing farrier work, how to ride the horse well and how to stop abuse. In the following years the horses improved much. The horses were looking better, even the boys took better care of the saddle’s and reins, having beautiful decoration or had a friend abroad sending new horse equipment from their country. The Brooke also took care for the donkeys. Medicines were free as well as the veterinarian fees. The horses and donkeys were flowering under in the hands of The Brooke.

After The Brooke 

Everything collapsed. The condition of the horses and donkeys took off although there were more private veterinarians in and around Petra, Wadi Musa and Um Sayhoun. Now they had to pay for a consult and the medicines, very different to when everything is free. For most of the people who could afford it, the money was not invested in good care of the horses and donkeys. They were just using their noble animals to work.  Rather they needed the money for their own sake, to buy material stuff.

Now: Four Paws

Fortunately now Four Paws is looking after the horses and donkeys. We can see the horses and donkeys are already doing better. You can read the full article about the aid project to improve the health of donkeys and horses in Petra here.

With Samiha and the Saluki Warda in the mountains of Petra.
With Samiha and the Saluki Warda in the mountains of Petra.


First I was happy to move to Petra, of all places this was the place to be. The ancient old city that the Nabateans cut out of the rocks. The story of Moses and Aaron, (the tomb of Aaron can be found on mountain Haroun), how Moses hit the rock and seven springs arose in the area, still possible to visit the one in Wadi Musa. I lived close to the site of Petra in Wadi Musa (spring of Moses). First in the village, later up the hill.  Also Samiha moved up the hill and lived with  other horses close to our home. I could visit her every day and make rides through the mountains of Petra. There were beautiful views but the path was a goat road  you had to stay on, because the mountains were steep. Samiha loved to galop although risky on the winding paths. Hardly ever we met someone else except some shepherds of flocks with goat and sheep and some dogs, barking to protect their herd.


Samiha got pregnant from the horse of the brother of my husband. It was already done before I knew. Confronted with this fact I was happy for her. She changed a bit. Busier with herself and less patient. But still comfortable to ride. She loved it to go out in the mountains.

In the mountains of Petra
In the mountains of Petra


One morning the little brother came to me and told me Samiha lost her baby, because another horse was free and kicked her in her belly. I went to see her. We climbed down the hill where the dead premature foal was. A brown one, so beautiful, complete but dead. She only had to go one more month  being pregnant. It was her first foal. What a loss, I was in pain for my dear horse Samiha. I couldn’t believe this. I took care of my lovely horse, she never became the same after this loss. Meanwhile it seemed it was the beginning of the end. Everything I tried to accomplish seemed to fail. With Samiha it went the same. But I was married now and had the commitment to make something out of my marriage.

Next time about my visit to the Royal stables of princess Alia in Amman.

If you like to know where I am now and what I do, visit our website Jordan Desert Journeys. Or connect to me on facebook.