Four beats to freedom - a horseback journey through New Zealand

A journey through New Zealand 2001 -2002

27 August, 2001


In late October, Mary Pagnamenta will set out from Bluff in the very south of New Zealand, aiming to be, she believes, the first English woman to ride on horseback the gruelling 3000km all the way up the "spine" of both islands to Cape Reinga in the far north. Mary will travel solo for the majority of her journey with just two horses, which will be picked for their suitability for long trekking. The welfare of the horses will be paramount. She has backing from Leeds United, who are providing her with a satellite phone in order to ensure good communications when deep in 'The High Country'.

Her aim is to raise funds for two charities:
The Fortune Centre of Riding Therapy (registered charity no. 1045352) is a specialist college for young people with Special Educational needs. 

The Brooke Hospital for Animals (registered Charity No 207869) provides veterinary care for the working equines belonging to some of the poorest of the poor in parts of the developing world and gives education in better animal husbandry. 

Through the work of both bodies, the opportunities and horizons of people who are in many ways on the margins of society are extended and enhanced by the role that horses play in their lives. 

Planning started two years ago for the adventure which will see her traversing remote hill country, wide river crossings, rural terrain and the occasional dip into rural communities and suburban streets of cites such as Wellington, and Auckland. 

"This is a challenge I can't wait to start," she says. "My mother continued riding after losing her leg through cancer. The horse gave her a freedom of movement that she could not achieve in her life otherwise. To achieve a childhood dream and also raise awareness of the effectiveness of riding therapy for young people with disabilities is just too good to miss." 

At 46, Mary who comes from North Yorkshire, is personally well equipped for the challenge. She holds an intermediate teaching certificate of the British Horse Society and has many years experience riding and schooling young horses. She is a trained teacher, with 10 years experience as a head teacher both in the UK and recently returned from 5 years as founding Head of the English International School in Prague which she set up for Nord Anglia Education Plc . Nord Anglia is a key sponsor of this current project. In 1994, Mary was a member of staff on a Raleigh International expedition to Southern Chile.

Mary will also be working with the New Zealand Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) to help them raise over $25,000, which is essential if children and adults with disabilities are to continue to enjoy the benefits of therapeutic riding. RDA is mobilising behind Mary's efforts and a range of events will be held at different points along Mary's path during the seven-month trek. Disabled riders and celebrities will be invited to join her for several sections of the ride and she will speak to local groups and schools en route.

Apart from administration expenses, which Mary is seeking sponsors for, all of the funds raised will go to the charities. If you would like to sponsor any part of Mary's effort, or offer advice or contacts who might be able to help her in New Zealand, contact her directly by email on or by mail at :

Four Beats to Freedom, 1 River Place, Gargrave, Skipton, North Yorkshire BD23 3RY.

More information about the challenge can be found at Mary's web-site

- ends -

For further information contact: Mary Pagnamenta on tel/fax 00 44 1756 749308. Email: Mary leaves for New Zealand on 30 August.

Notes to Editors
1. A copy of the planned itinerary is available on request.
2. The Fortune Centre of Riding Therapy, Avon Tyrrell, Bransgore, Christchurch, Dorset, BH23 8EE
3. The Brooke Hospital for Animals, Broadmead House, 21 Panton St, London, SW1Y 4DR

Four Beats to Freedom
1 River Place, Gargrave, Skipton, North Yorkshire BD23 3RY 
Tel/fax 01756 749308 Email:


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