‘Twas a Grand Weekend – Part 2
Saturday was a rough night. We had friends staying overnight – they weren’t the problem! We had a lovely evening, sitting by the fire and chatting, while sampling my pickled garlic – no, the pickled garlic wasn’t the problem! Then we went out to the Carluc restaurant in Céreste and had a lovely meal – but, no, indigestion was not the problem, either!
No, the problem was that our neighbours were having a party. Now, they had very cleverly invited us and apologised for the noise in advance, but at 2am, I was thinking that I’d definitely have gone around to ask that the music be turned down if I was at home in Cork, and I quite possibly would have called the Gardai when the thumping rhythms were still pounding through the walls at 3.30am. I had ear-plugs in, and I did sleep on and off, but it was not a restful night, and I was worrying about our friends, who had driven from Belgium on Saturday – an eleven hour road-trip – and were facing another eleven hours as they continued on their way to Spain on Sunday.
I needn’t have worried, they said that they slept fine. I hope they weren’t just being polite, but I do think that their room was better insulated from the noise than ours.
|Quieto waiting for “Mum”|
Undaunted, we headed up to the horses shortly after nine. They’re horsey folk, too, I got to know them through Dressage Ireland, and they were keen to see our set-up here in Provence. They Ooh’d and Aah’d over the incredible view from the arena, they liked the herd-living aspect of the Farm, they especially liked the sturdy field-shelters in every paddock, but most of all they were blown away by the beautiful, green, crisp, sweet-smelling hay! There’s none of the mouldy, dusty crap we get in Ireland here!
We said our goodbyes (and thanks for the Barry’s Tea, guys!) and started to get ready. The horses were reasonably clean, so grooming and tacking up went quickly, with the LSH paying particular attention to Flurry’s Renegades, making sure they were good and tight.
I noticed that the times when he relaxed and settled the most were the times when we were riding along roads or particularly wide tracks. Going through the thick woods or the scrubland we crossed, he gets more nervous and jumpy. This makes perfect sense – to date, any hacking he has done has been has been on country roads and through stubble fields. In his eventing days, open fields and moors would have meant a cross-country gallop with his blood up, but he has never come across this kind of heavily wooded, rocky terrain before – it’s all really new to him and he’s trying to figure out what he’s meant to do here. I’ve noticed him eyeing up heaps of stacked logs in the forest – perhaps he’s wondering if they are cross-country jumps?
I did my level best to just sit in a relaxed manner all the time and keep the reins loose, but occasionally, I would have to pick them up and tell him to slow down, as he attempted to power-walk down steep slopes, or if his tension escalated into trotting sideways behind Quieto – not fun on a narrow, tree-lined trail, but to be fair, he wasn’t bad at all!
We got off and led them once, because we had to pass along a section of broken trail with a drop to one side and low trees overhead – the sort of situation where you’re definitely better off on the ground.
The couple of times we trotted, Aero was still rushing and I felt terribly uncomfortable on him. I ended up going into the forward seat, which felt a little better, but goodness me, I felt insecure doing it in a dressage saddle!
It really was a lovely trek, as you can see from the photos. I had forgotten my camera (but I remembered the boot repair kit!) so the LSH snapped away with his iPhone as we went along. Of course he was on super-safe Flurry, so he had no worries about his horse spooking or getting silly and making him drop it!