The Ride of Her Life

A Bethesda native, Darley Newman, puts her own twist on travel—and crafts an enviable career—as the horseback-riding host of the PBS series Equitrekking

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As darkness descended over the Belizean jungle, Darley Newman’s guide urged his horse to go faster. They needed the little light that remained if they were going to film, and he was hoping to make up for lost time.

In an instant, Newman’s horse followed suit, charging after him like a thoroughbred running the Kentucky Derby.

Anyone who has ever been on a runaway horse knows the terror of losing control and the threat of being thrown. Deep ditches on either side of the trail made this ride even more perilous. But as the 33-year-old Bethesda resident and TV host remembers the incident three years later, she displays the humor and equanimity that have attracted fans to Equitrekking, her Daytime Emmy Award-winning, international travel show on PBS. “No one told me that I was riding an ex-racehorse,” Newman says wryly. But with the other horse charging ahead, “my horse decided we would win.”

As the two raced along the narrow trail, Newman tried to rein in her mount. The film crew watched helplessly from a clearing in the woods as the two flew by, and then they jumped into their car to follow.

“I was definitely a little worried,” Newman says,“because I’ve never gone so fast in my life.”

Eventually she was able to get her horse under control, ending “a very wild Belizean ride.”

It was all in a day’s work for Newman, who has made a name for herself traveling the globe on horseback to showcase destinations from Botswana to the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina on her weekly show, now in its sixth season.

In each episode, Newman joins local travel guides on a horseback tour, delving into the history, culture and environment of the destination, as well as exploring other activities such as white-water rafting and snowmobiling.       

Equitrekking, which debuted in 2007, is now seen in 65 countries around the world. Last year, 42 million Americans tuned in to Newman’s travels, according to Nielsen ratings.

Newman is, in short, the Anthony Bourdain of the horse world—except for the fact that she has deep blue eyes, blond hair and an open, engaging manner in contrast to the sometimes irascible globe-trotting chef.

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