From :

Wagon. A cranky contary female / an ugly female. She\'s some wagon eh?

wagon. wagon - an awful woman. than one is such a wagon!

wagon. a woman thats a bitch. dat ones a right wagon.

Wagon. A cantankerous old woman.. Yer wan's some wagon, I asked her could I feed the seagulls and she lifted me out of it!

wagon. car or other mode of transport. i'll drive my waggon.

Wanderly Wagon. A much loved Irish children's TV program which ran from 1968 to 1982

Tuesday, 31 January 2012


We awoke to this scene at the front of the house
and this at the back
The cats Smudge and Squeak were very unimpressed with this nasty cold white stuff, so I gave them an extra bit of food for insulation.

George snapped a few pics while he was out with the dogs :

Cinnamon in the Snow
The courtyard and house from the back gate

Snowy landscape
I've been under house arrest all day in case I slip and fall and break something else, but Anne sneaked me out mid-afternoon.  We paid the horses a visit to see how they were coping.  They were wet, but warm and perfectly content

 especially when they got their lucerne a little early.
Fani's ponies were jealous...
...they will have to wait until later.

 At our house Fionn was the first to spot the snow
Whoa it's snow Roxy

Now Roxy had never seen snow before, so I grabbed a coat and took her for a walk up to the Falaises where she chased around like the puppy she is

It doesn't often snow here, but the snow ploughs and gritters have been in action all day and the roads are clear.  Temperatures are due to plummet to -20 C at the weekend, so hopefully the roads will dry out and not turn into sheets of frozen ice. We'll keep you posted!

Monday, 30 January 2012

Riding Plans or keeping Flurry fit plans!

People have been very good offering to ride Flurry and keep him fit for Martine, so on Saturday Jenny tacked him up and off we went. Jenny is a good rider and had no trouble with him, although he was slipping quite badly with the wraps on his hind feet.

He did a massive shy going through the field beside the road, and Gigi was a bit unsettled , both horses staring fixedly at the hedge, another shy from Flurry, but Jen had him well under control and we continued on our merry way unable to see or hear any reason for their concern.

We kept the hack short, in respect for their bare feet, which was as well as Gigi's front right boot was twisting again, and after about 20 minutes we turned around, and came back on the road, where we discovered the reason for their earlier concern, the flock of sheep and goats were just the other side of the road being moved along by the shepherd. They both had a good look at this strange Provencal phenomenon but moved forward well enough with a bit encouragement, they are definitely getting used to them! No photos I'm afraid as Martine is usually the photographer, must try harder next time!

George was to ride early this morning, 8:30 (groan) but when I checked the forecast yesterday it was giving sub zero temperatures for this am, so we called it off, I was very unwilling to struggle with booting them up wearing no gloves, with frozen fingers. The task is difficult enough at the best of times.

And I was met by a light dusting of snow when I went up to feed them at 9:30

Snow at La Florentine

Snow at La Florentine

Normally they get grass hay in the morning but this morning I could only find lucerne hay, which they love, so that's what they got!

Gigi is always slow to eat her hard feed as she savours every last bit, while the others tuck into the hay

Saturday, 28 January 2012

The French Podiatrist

Wednesday was the day we had arranged to meet the French podiatrist, Beatrice Malicorne, a young Swiss woman who travelled from near Aix en Provence to trim our horses feet and give us advice on how to proceed.

George kindly came up to the field to help move the horses down to the yard, with Martine, arm in sling , supervising.
Coming up from the field

They came up quietly enough and had their breakfast and some hay in the yard, but Gigi was a little unsettled.

Beatrice arrived on time, well she is Swiss, and we stood around discussing how the horses were kept, what they ate, their exercise routine, and our training methods. All the while Gigi was getting more and more restless, so I suggested to Beatrice that she start with Gigi, as maybe that would distract her and help her to settle. Difficult for Beatrice, as she didn't know Gigi, so couldn't be aware that this was not her usual behaviour, and that there is no badness in her whatsoever.

Gigi in a rare calm moment

So Beatrice was a little wary of her and after one foot, with Gigi getting steadily more agitated, she switched to doing Flurry. I was hoping that when Fani had finished feeding the other horses she might settle.

Flurry of course was the perfect gentleman and presented each foot willingly in turn. Beatrice was concerned about his hind feet - specifically his low heels and long toes - and the decision was made to wrap them with the PHW bandages. The advice is to walk him in hand every day and not to ride him. But we have to be realistic, and will continue to ride but on soft ground as much as possible, and sporting our renegade boots!
The model of good behaviour
The snazzy orange tape is to hold Flurry's feathers up so the shape of his foot can be assessed
Flurry sporting the wraps

Then it was back to Gigi, who was still tossing her head and walking up and down, digging with her front feet, and generally being a right royal pain. I had lunged her for about 15 minutes but there was something across the road that had her attention from time to time, although she did listen to me most of the time on the lunge, there was still that anxiety there.


All the time Shrek watched on with interest

The second attempt at trimming her feet was no more successful than the first, although Beatrice did manage to do one more foot, but Gigi was really playing her up, I think my dear horse had sussed that she had the upper hoof. She had some bruising on both front feet, so we will have to reduce the amount we are doing with them every day. It is a learning process.

We were there for a good 3 hours and poor Martine was exhausted, so George came back to help move them back down to the field, and I was glad to hand Gigi over to him, and lead Flurry down instead.

This late addition is for Martine who can't get up to see Flurry everyday, it rained over night last night and....

Muddy Flurry

Friday, 27 January 2012

Where to From Here?

Needless to say, I was a bit despondent when I was admitted to Apt Hospital, pending my surgery on Wednesday morning.  However, things were quickly put into perspective for me when I met my room-mate.  There is nothing quite like an amputated limb to put a broken wrist into perspective.

I was well impressed with the hospital.  Within an hour of arrival at Urgences, I had been x-rayed, the orthopedic surgeon had been consulted and I was being wheeled to my room.  I would still have been waiting for Triage in Cork.
I was also really pleased with how well I coped with the language… or maybe they were all speaking to me as if I was an infant or a simpleton!  Whichever it was, I understood most of what was said and was able to cobble sentences together in reply.
I was discharged on Wednesday, four hours after surgery, greatly relieved to be going home.  Yes, it's a bit sore, but it will improve as the weeks go by, and the surgeon was quite positive that I will be out of plaster in six weeks.

And the prospect for Le Big Trek?  It’s going ahead, of course!

IF I am a good girl and stay out of the saddle for six weeks, I’ll be back riding sometime during the second week of March.  That gives me a whole month to get riding fit and to simply enjoy trekking around this beautiful region before we head off up the GR 36 on April 9th.
If I am NOT a good girl and start riding while I still have a cast on then that would probably give me an extra two weeks riding before we start Le Big Trek, which is an even better outlook as far as I’m concerned.
We’ve discussed this quite seriously.  I can borrow one of La Florentine’s cavalry saddles, which have a high pommel and cantle, so they are difficult to fall out of.   When it’s still in the cast, my wrist will be more protected than at any other stage, so really, why not?  And, honestly, the surgeon really did say “On peut monter en plâtre” but he may have been teasing me!

People have been rallying around and we have many offers of help riding Flurry for the next few weeks, so he will maintain his fitness level and his feet will continue to get the “work therapy” that they need.  I am happy that “Spooky Tense Flurry” who made his presence felt in early January is gone, and “Normal Bombproof Flurry” is back for good.  However, he can be a bit nappy (barnsour) so I have to make sure his riders know this and won’t let him away with it.

I intend to do lots of walking over the next six weeks, so I can build my own fitness levels as well so when I am finally back in the saddle I can pick up where I left off, planning longer treks and plotting routes along the local GR trails.

So, it’s a shattered wrist, not shattered dreams.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012


We had a lovely hack, out for an hour, the boots still twisted and need more research, but the French podiatrist is coming this week so maybe she can help. We were planning our next hack, and both hoping that next week we could start to go further afield and explore more.

So feeling really pleased with ourselves, and with thoughts of lunches in nearby country restaurants, in my mind at least, we untacked and walked the horses up towards the gate into the field which is just a long length of electric fence about 30/40 feet long, always a bit tricky if the other horse comes up to investigate, but there was no sign of her, so we had assumed she'd been taken out for a ride.

Two things happened at once , the wire got snagged on the ground, I was leading Gigi and opening the "gate", and Ugoline, the other horse, appeared at a pace from down by the stream, Flurry took a bit of a fright and Martine ended up on the ground. I shouted over to ask her if she was OK, and she replied that she thought she had broken her wrist. Well as she had broken her wrist before, I believed her straight away.

So I let the horses go and drove Martine back to her house, where she applied a wine cooler to the wrist.

Martine and Wine Cooler
Our reception at Apt hospital was interesting, "Weren't you here on Friday" they asked.

Waiting to be admitted
One broken wrist

Martine was quickly seen and the doctor (same doctor) took one look and confirmed it was broken. In no time at all she was hitched up to a panadol drip, no tablets here !

All plastered up
But after an x-ray the surgeon gave her the bad news that the wrist was badly shattered and would need pins and plates, and that they would operate in the morning, so poor Martine was admitted for the night to await surgery the next day.

Well I am glad to report that the operation was a success and she will be back home here later today. We have discussed contingency plans re "Le Big Trek" and people are kindly offering to help ride Flurry so he can be kept fit and ready to go whenever Martine is able. George being the first to volunteer his time at the weekends.

So hopefully we will still be able to go, even if the goals are a little less ambitious. I am sure Martine will post with her side of events, knowing her maybe even tonight!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Le Salon de Cheval

Fani asked us earlier this week if we were going to the Salon de Cheval in Avignon.  What's a Salon de Cheval, we asked, and from her explanation, we took it to be a horse show, with lots of trade stands and a few horsey demos thrown in for good measure.
It seemed like a good idea, especially since Long Suffering Husband would have been bored to tears, but he's away for a week so he had a great excuse not to be dragged along. Then when Anne attempted to chop her finger off and riding was out of the question, it seemed like an even better idea, so off we went on Saturday, with Roxy and Fionn coming along for the ride.
We still had no idea what to expect, but I did say on the way that I thought it might be "like Millstreet, in the good old days" - Irish horsey people of a certain age will totally understand me, but for everyone else, Millstreet International Horse show used to be thronged with top-class national and international riders, there was a host of trade stands where you could browse for hours and there was a relaxed, friendly atmosphere and loads of craic throughout the whole five days of competition.

Well, I was wrong, it was more like the Dublin Horse Show, only BETTER but with no show-jumping.  The three hours we had allowed ourselves was not enough for more than the briefest glance at everything.
The first thing that caught our eye was the carriage driving competition, with this team of gorgeous Percherons negotiating their way through the course.
Percheron team
Then we spotted the Camargue horses and had a look at these guys in their pen
Some of the Camargue horses
wear a bell

until our attention was caught by the black Camargue bulls just behind us and we realised there was the French equivalent of a Cutting Horse competition in progress.  
It was amazing watching these little horses work
Look at the concentration on both faces :

There's a video clip as well,

Anne loved the trousers which the female Gardiennes wore, and I could have happily stood and watched these magical white horses work all day, but we carried on to see the rest of the sights.

There were excited horses everywhere
 and calmer ones focussed on doing their job
 mingling with the crowds
with riders dressed up in all kinds of outfits

We found the Horseball playing field.  We've never seen a Horseball game before, and it was something we could have watched for hours (although some knowledge of the rules would have been helpful!)
A short video clip seems to be the best idea here, sorry if it's a bit Blair Witch-y, I didn't have a great vantage point.
These guys are certifiable, and it's worth noting that they were the only riders we saw at the show wearing safety helmets!
Note how the rider picks the ball up from the ground about nine seconds into the video!

Then there was the SHOPPING :
Lots of stands
lots of variety

lots of dealing
and lots of stuff we don't get at home.
We found a sort of Equine Army Surplus Store
Pack saddle with water tank 
Loads of useful gear!
We bought ourselves a collapsible bucket, which will be useful when we eventually get to doing long treks, but otherwise we restrained ourselves very well.

This being France, food was never very far away
but, this being France, I failed miserably in my attempts to find a loo
but we did find interesting cows 

Look at those horns!
cute donkeys

and the mini-farm, complete with very large somnolent pig.

As is the norm at a big horse show, the warm-up arena was the most interesting place to be.
There was a special Lipizzaner warm-up arena

To add a bit of spice, these guys had to contend with the carriage driving contestants crossing their warm-up en-route to and from their competition arena!

Tucked around the back, there was a more general warm-up arena, being used by all sorts of horses and riders, some in costume
This guy looked like he was straight out of an ad for a brand of sherry 
LOVE the expression on his face!
There were beautiful ornate bridles 

flowing manes
and handsome ehhh... horses

We tried to make our way to the exit, but were sidetracked by this sight

Where else but in a warm-up arena will you see one man standing on two horses as they canter around while another is nonchalantly practising Spanish walk?

We loved this guy and his two grey cobs.
Time for a break and a reward 
before they practised a few more moves 

I'm not so sure how I felt about the other guy.
Although it was all very dramatic 
 the dressage purist in me does not approve of this sort of thing
and I did not see the love and harmony that was plain to see in many other partnerships

We had a fantastic time, and would have loved to stay longer, but my three canines had been home alone for four hours, so it was time to leave the Salon de Cheval
and head home to Cereste.
Maybe next year we'll be able to stay longer.... depending on where we are!