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

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!


  1. That is a horse show with a difference. Thanks for posting the photos.

    Can't you always tell when the horse and rider are happy together?

  2. I love the photos! That horse show looks like an amazing experience! How great that you guys got to go.

  3. We both feel so lucky to be here and doing what we are doing, each day is a treat.

  4. A view of a France that one would not expect.Thanks for sharing.