My name is Caitlin Boylan
I am the owner, founder, director, CEO, COO, manager, author, lead photographer, web developer, and editor of The Country Jumper.
Before I tell you more about myself I think there are a few things we should get out of the way first.
1. I’m not like other bloggers, I’m a cool blogger. Just kidding. There are loads of cool bloggers – but genuinely, I am not like other bloggers. Here’s why…
2. Everyone told me that even within the topic of Travel I needed a niche – but I as a human don’t have a niche so that doesn’t really make sense for my blog. There’s lot of horseback riding here, cause I do that. And there’s lots of info about living and working abroad, cause I do that too. But you might find hostels or hotels or couchsurfing or camping. Budget or (quasi)luxury. Group trips, couple trips, girl’s trips, and solo trips. Train travel, plane travel, road trips, and sometimes – when I’m feeling brave – boat journeys. Cause I do all of those things too so why pretend I do just one.
3. I am an authority on nothing. You’ll find a lot of bloggers say they are the ‘go-to website for XYZ’ or ‘the top travel expert in XYZ’. And when I was creating this about page I was told I needed to put myself as an authority on a topic. So here’s what I’m the authority on – anyone who tells you they’re an authority is B.S.ing you and you should high tail it away from them. I know things, I hope I can teach you things, I’ve got loads of experience, but I’m also still learning and gaining experiences. I’m not an ultimate authority. For this reason I invite lots of outside voices onto The Country Jumper – each country page features a local or two who can give you a view on a place which I am inherently unable to. I am here to help you travel but part of doing that is helping you get many different perspectives on a place.
Here’s my story…
I do not know the first time I ever traveled – I have been exceptionally privileged like that. I do know however that as a kid I regularly traveled from where I grew up in central Vermont to Florida to visit my grandmother as well as Cape Cod to visit my grandfather. I also grew up about a two hour drive from the Canadian border in an age when passports were not required to cross it by land, so that was likely the first time I left my home country. There were childhood trips to the beaches of Maine and also regular excursions to the Caribbean. I have a memory of a story of getting into the back of a stranger’s truck with my parents and brothers (one of whom must have been very young) to get from where a boat dropped us off on an island to the little bar my parents wanted to go to.
The first trip though, that I can really distinctly separate in my memory, was to England, Belgium, and France the summer I turned 12. My birthday is Bastille Day and we were in Paris for it that year. Later, in high school, I went to Italy on a ‘school program’ which basically just meant there were chaperones to yell at us when we kissed Italian boys in the Piazza della Signoria.
I went to Goucher College in Baltimore – it is I believe now still, but definitely was at the time, the only college in The U.S. to have study abroad as a graduation requirement. I studied abroad three times. My sophomore year I spent our long winter break in Cuernavaca studying Spanish, learning how insanely good avocados are when they are so damn fresh, kissing Mexican boys, and also figuring out how many tequila shots I could take before passing out in the bar. The next year I did a semester in Limerick, Ireland. In Ireland I learned to Irish dance, rode horses, learned how many beers I could drink before passing out in the bar, and – you guessed it – kissed Irish boys. My third study abroad was in Meknes, Morocco. Things were different there and though I entered with every intention of doing so, I did not kiss any Moroccan boys.
So I finished my B.A. I majored in business management and minored in religious studies. And then I got a 9-5 corporate job. Just kidding. That was never of interest to me. Yes, privilege, I know. Instead of a ‘straight’ job, I went back to Ireland on a working holiday visa. I spent the first half of my year there working on horse farms. First, I was at Boolagh Stud which sits at the base of Slievenamon in Killusty, County Tipperary – an area of Ireland which, unless you are that person who found my blog because you too worked at Boolagh – I guarantee you’ve never heard of let alone been to. Next, I worked at Clare Equestrian Center which is just outside of Ennis in the much more popular County Clare (that’s where the Cliffs of Moher are). After busting my ass for several months for no pay I decided to go and do some different work for free so I found myself at The Burren Hostel in Lisdoonvarna – one of my very favorite corners of this world.
After returning to The U.S. from Ireland in 2012 I knew I couldn’t stay but I also knew I needed to stop working for free. So a few months later I went and got my CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults) at ILSC-Montreal and a few weeks after completing it I moved to Vietnam. I’d interviewed and been accepted for a position over Skype with ILA Vietnam. They placed me in Saigon, which became my home for the next year and a half. Since then I have lived and taught English in Australia, Prague, Spain, Los Angeles, New York City, and England.
I have ridden horses all along the way, learned that I actually don’t like beer at all and much prefer wine, and that while I still love tequila, shots are best saved for the nights before the days I don’t need to move out of my bed. Oh, and I have kissed plenty of boys.
If you’ve been around here for any amount of time, you know that I do not shy away from talking politics. And if you’re gong wo-wo-wo this is a travel site – yes, it is, and I very strongly believe that a conversation about travel cannot exist without involving politics. Politics are not exclusive to your capital city, the very act of traveling is itself a political decision.
So yeah, I roped you in with my talk of beer and wine and tequila and all the boys I’ve kissed but now we’re going to talk about the reasons why I really travel and the reasons why I think you should too – and yes, those are closely intertwined with politics. If you’re just looking for flowy dresses I’m not your woman – but I’d like to ask you to stay and talk anyways, we can wear flowy dresses and be politically aware at the same time, even while balancing a glass of wine (or a shot of tequila).
I am from The United States, a country which has had its part in the conquering of the world and the suppressing of peoples, cultures, customs, and languages. Unfortunately, my education did not include a well-rounded understanding of that history nor the problems it has created today.
I like to think I have done a decent job of self-educating, but I also know my work is not, nor probably will ever be, done.
I travel with purpose and I travel consciously. I am not interested in all-inclusive resorts, I am interested in sitting down with people at kitchen tables, I am interested in their stories, and that is what I seek when I move about this world.
I am and always will be imperfect and I ask you to be open and honest with me if you feel that I have fallen short. I promise to listen.
So, I ride a lot. These days, traveling and living abroad isn’t always immensely conducive to being in the saddle, but I do my damndest to ride when I can.
I grew up riding and have been comfortably posting since I was about five or six. I came of age in a dressage barn and as a teenager transitioned into American hunter/jumpers, sometimes evented, but mostly just fell off my four-year old paint mare.
I went to college and when I didn’t get one of the three spots on the equestrian team I found other ways to stay busily in the saddle. I worked for fox-hunters, continued show jumping and fell off a few more times in the hunter/jumper ring.
One time, in what I can only imagine was an immensely embarrassing moment for my trainers who were standing ringside, I jumped a line backwards at HITS Saugerties.
Through college I trained with Denise O’Connor, Kristin Bracken, and Jennifer Marshall. I trained and coached kids in Maryland and brought along a few youngsters including some Thoroughbreds off the track. I aced it in jumper rounds where the courses were a maze and the corners were tight and fast and I managed to stay on a lot more often.
As I’ve already mentioned, after college I moved to Ireland and rode horses. There I trained with Olympian Olivia Holohan as well as international show jumpers Marie Burke and Jessica Burke. In Ireland I continued teaching, backing, and training youngsters, and led a few trail rides through the countryside. Since then I’ve taught here and there, and hopped on a few crazy horses who need some talking to to help their owners and them become friends again.
And, of course, I’ve fallen off plenty too.
The truth? This is my fourth blog. The first was started in 2011 when I left for Morocco – shame I didn’t keep that one going, I just might be famous by now.
There was a second blog some time between Morocco and a third just before Vietnam. This – The Country Jumper – was brought to life in 2017. This is the first time I am paying for my own platform and not just running a free blog off of something like Wix or Blogger.
As for the name, it’s more to do with my love for horses than actually country jumping. Though I do get around, I don’t travel quickly nor do I purposefully country count – as the name might lead you to believe. Rather, thecountryjumper64 was my very first email address from when I was probably about 11 or 12. I came up with the name based on my love for cross-country jumping (one of the three phases of eventing). At the time I had a little grey pony who was a legend over fences as big as her.
Anyways, when I was searching for names for this blog my old email address popped into my head – I ran it by two or three friends and they all loved it. Originally, there wasn’t supposed to be a ‘the’ but countryjumper.com is owned by some guy in Massachusetts who doesn’t use it but wanted a few thousand dollars for it. I didn’t (don’t) have that kind of money to spend on a domain. So I added a ‘The’ and here we are today.
In the spring of 2020 – while I was locked down in England during the outbreak of Coronavirus, I joined forces with a friend and fellow M.A. student to launch Macro magazine.
Each issue of the magazine focuses on one topic affecting people around the world.
We collect stories, perspectives, thoughts, from human beings, real people, living in all corners of this earth.
Not only is this a passion project of mine, but we are always accepting submissions (you do not have to be a professional writer or have any previously published work!).