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Spotlighting Incredible Women in Travel: An Interview with Kristina Fidhi of Caravan Horse Riding Albania

by Rina Nehdar

Mar 2, 2020

Kristina Fidhi

Listicles

Part two of our four-part series spotlighting incredible women in travel highlights the achievements of Kristina Fidhi.

 

As a young girl in Albania, Fidhi dreamed of bringing the roots of horseback riding traditions back to her country. At the time, under the rule of Communist Russia, she said, “Dreams were illegal.” When Albania struggled to put itself back together, after the fall of the Soviet Union, her dream didn’t seem realistic, but today she is the proud owner of 40 horses and runs a horseback riding tour company. Caravan Horse Riding Albania traces routes taken by ancient Albanian kings and explorers through villages, ruins, remote monasteries and mountains so visitors can feel the real Albania.

 

WhereverFamily: Did you feel any fear that your passion to succeed wouldn’t be accepted by your family and/or friends?

 

Kristina Fidhi: When we started to think of having a small horse business everybody was laughing, including my family and parents. Every single person that heard about that was surprised and openly told me not to do it. No one I knew was riding horses because the country lost the tradition decades ago.  It took several years before people changed their attitude from not acceptance to curiosity and later to positive surprise. When passion is big you think every effort is worthy. I had so many bad moments but the dream was stronger. Ten years ago, so many people were leaving Albania to emigrate abroad for a better life. I felt that was the moment to succeed by doing what I loved or leave like most of my friends.

 

Kristina Fidhi of Caravan Horse Riding Albania

 

WF: What do you feel were your biggest obstacles?

KF: The whole situation was a huge obstacle. First of all no horses, it was extremely difficult to find some good examples of the Albanian horse, no equipment, no vaccines or other treatment, no riding schools, no land, no people to work with and above all, no customers for it. Who was going to ride and make it a profit-worthy activity [in which] to invest?

 

We started to write emails to several big horse-riding vacation agencies. Albania was so unknown and felt far from everything. First answers were coming months later and, for two years, all answers were negative. The process of building partnerships was long and difficult and required patience, information and education.

 

WF: Can you share a funny moment that happened as you proceeded to succeed?

KF: In February 2012, a German agency was visiting for the first time to check the horse riding quality and the diversity of other services. We were anxious. The evaluation was depending if we would agree on a contract. All the three days that this agency was here was snowing and stormy. We normally hardly have snow during winter here. They got stuck several times in the mountains during the visit and it became so difficult to show what guests should expect. They didn’t really get the idea of how riding a horse is because snow was strange for the horses, too. Driving them back to the airport, we got blocked once again in the snow because a tree fell on the road and closed it. Finally, after many efforts we did arrive at the airport 20 minutes before their flight.

 

When it looked like no hope for the contract, the German company owner said he decided to sell our program not because it was perfect but because we “could deal with all the obstacles.”

 

Kristina Fidhi

 

WF: What words can you share with other women who want to achieve your success?

KF: Follow what makes you happy and what makes you independent. Obstacles are there only to prove how strong you are and how big your dream is.

 

Check back tomorrow for part three of our three-part series, spotlighting incredible women in travel.

#WhereverFamily

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