Friday, August 05, 2011

What I did for my Summer Vacation. DAY FIVE.

Friday, 8/5
Walked into town with the girls for them to get some candy and bought Simon a little yellow rainjacket. Walked through a little "Brocante" (flea market). The girls said their "g/bye's" and Simon took his nap. When he woke we went to the Croix's for some macaroons and water. Simon ran around their yard and Thierry tried to play ball with him. Came back home and Christiane was going to give Simon dinner while E took me to my horse-back riding "promenade." Simon was hysterical as he was being put in the chair. :(((((( Christiane kept trying to block him from me and saying "leave, leave, leave" (in French). I gave him a kiss anyways and we left.

Went HORSE-BACK RIDING!!!! I was nervous, but I did good! :)))))) First I was going to ride  "Galopin," which means "little devil" (as in "you little devil" when you say that to a child who's being cute but mischievous) but then because the other people who were going to go riding didn't show up, it was just me and the guide--so they put me on a different horse. 

This is a really different experience than in the United States! First, they told me to go find my own helmut (bombe) among the rack of helmets in the middle of the stalls.  Then they told me to go get my horse and bring him into the menege (the rinding ring). What?!?!!!! So I went back and said, (in French), I'm supposed to go do this tout seule? I'm a little nervous to do that."  So a girl got the horse out of the stall and then I lead Galopin from the stables into the menage. The girl helped me mount him. Then they told me there would be a horse change. So I just waited in the ring and they brought me Papyrus. So then I mounted Papyrus and we did one turn in the ring, to get comfortable and then off we were! (I would've liked a few more turns in the ring…but oh well). 

The only kind of saddle they have in France is an English saddle. The trail we took took us across two roads, down sandy paths, up through hills, between fields, around houses, over driveways, down muddy paths, into a forest, under a canopy of branches/trees, over a little stream, over a little one-person foot path, around in the forest, past a woman re-staining a wooden-beam fence, up and down and around a rocky, dirt, muddy path in the woods, around next to a field where Papyrus stopped to "neigh! neigh!" at some other horses in the field and of course, stopping a few times to grab leaves from trees to eat.

This was nervewraking and I couldn't stop him from doing it.  What was also VERY nervewraking was the guide's horse, which was a beautiful dappled dark grey horse named Nicolas, kept rearing up on his hind legs "because he doesn't like stones or rocks." What?! Geesh. I was so nervous my horse would end up doing the same. Thankfully he didn't.

The guide had us trotting a lot more than I thought we would do. (Which was great, but which i also wasn't really ready for and which I need more lessons on b/c I could "post" but the stirrups were banging hard against the front of my ankle b/c my my feet kept slipping forward instead of staying with the heels down, as they should be.  He also told me I should stand up when the horse is trying to go up some of the very steep hills, but he didn't tell me what to hang onto b/c if i held onto the reins I would end up pulling the horse backwards (or on his hind legs). So I did a combo of grabbing his mane and the saddle.  He also didn't tell me what to do when going down hills, so I leaned back in the saddle and grabbed onto the back of the saddle.

The other major difference (other than the guide not being talkative, not telling you pointers on what you should be doing, etc.) is that the trail is TREACHEROUS!  I don't mean the train in itself is treacherous, but the way it is maintained.  There are big, thick branches that stick out into the trail; there are branches that hang too low; there are branches that have been cut, but not short enough; there are branches that have not been cut at all.  If you didn't pay attention to what was ahead of you at all times you could get seriously knocked in the throat, head or eye by a branch.  These were not small, bendy branches. These were thick, stout branches.  There were parts that are so muddy that the horses were slipping down the hill. There were parts that were so rocky the horses hooves tripped on the rocks or slipped on the boulders.

Other than that, it was great! :)))) I want to go back and take lessons now. No more promenade…too scary, really. I prefer all the jaunts and stuff but to be on better terrain.