Friday was to be the highlight of our week - after giving the horses a day off on Thursday, we planned to ride to Reillanne in the morning, have lunch at the Café du Cours while the LSH was setting up his exhibition (making an exhibition of himself?) and then ride back to Céreste.
We were keen to include S, and Shona was looking forward to her last day of riding here, so with four riders and two horses, we decided that Shona and I would ride out from Céreste to Reillanne. The LSH was to bring the horsebox and meet us in the square at 1pm, the horses could have a nice rest after the two hour trip up from Céreste, we'd have a lovely relaxed lunch and then the two tired horses would be ridden home. We intended to use the horsebox to block off a corner of the square to keep GiGi and Flurry out of harms way, and also if we felt they were really exhausted after the morning, we had the option of boxing them home instead of riding. But assuming they were up to it, Anne and S would ride them home.
All very straightforward and sensible.
We were tacked up and ready to go by 11am - me on Flurry, Shona on GiGi, Kevin on foot and Anne who was going to walk with us for a few minutes.
|1km done, 8 to go...|
The horses could not have been better behaved. We met plenty of hazards - barking dogs, a jogger, cyclists, horses, a goat and donkey in a field, rattly cars pulling rattly trailers, an over-friendly French driver who tooted his horn cheerfully as he came up behind us - and although Flurry looked at some things a bit suspiciously, he agreed to my requests to keep putting one foot in front of the other and plodded on happily enough.
We waited for Kevin at the Priuerie de Carluc, which is about half way. While we were waiting, I discovered that Everytrail had killed the battery on my iPhone (note to self: change refresh rate on Everytrail and make sure phone is fully charged every day!)
We walked for a long stretch then, and Kevin managed to get a few photos. He was practically running backwards to take this one
And he had to leap aside to take this one!
but he made us stop and pose for this, just to catch the Grand Luberon in the background.
I think I was pointing out MontJustin here!
Eventually we trotted again and soon left him behind. He didn't catch up with us again until he arrived into Reillanne about fifteen minutes after us, but he managed to get this shot of us on the approach to Reillanne, with the village and the church tower in the background.
|My favourite shot of the whole trip - so far!|
Shona and Anne had checked out the approach into Reillanne earlier that day, and she knew where to go, but we both spotted a marked trail leading up through terraced olive groves and decided to follow it instead. It was lovely, a bit steep and rocky in places, but both horses pricked their ears and took it on. No photos, unfortunately, but the memory of riding through olive groves for the first time will stay with me for years to come.
As we entered the village, both horses were getting a little more tense - we agreed that they were saying "We're country horses, not townies" and took no notice of them.
We rode into the square just as the LSH drove in at the far side with the horse box - good timing or what!! It had taken an hour and forty minutes to cover the 9km. Both horses had sweated up a lot, and we set to work untacking, sponging down and offering them water. Flurry drank a fair bit, but GiGi was unsettled and just messed with it, so we tied them up, gave them their haynets and sat down on a nearby wall to wait for the rest of the troops to arrive.
My Day (Anne)
I had an early start , up to the horses to give them their hay and supplements with a bit of hard feed, then walking Roxy, home for my own breakfast, then back up to the horses to see them all off to Reillanne. I knew Shona was a little nervous of riding Gigi, and was delighted to see them go off in slob mode, with Gigi ambling quietly along behind Flurry.
So then I took the jeep home to George so he could do his bit later, collected Fionn and walked for an hour with him along some of the route the horses had already taken, thinking over the day ahead, and how pleasant it would be to have lunch in Café du Cours, and then hack home on a nice tired relaxed horse. This was part of my dream, lunch in lovely French restaurants along the trail, and hacking my horse in this beautiful countryside.
So back home, borrowed my cousin's car and headed off for lunch. I arrived in the square to find the horses were already there, having made much better time than we had thought, but where was my sweet Gigi? There was a chestnut horse there, tied to the horsebox, throwing her head around, digging the ground with her very expensive Renegade boots, and twisting and turning, in a fury of impatience. Oh no, I really didn't think she would pull this trick after a 10k hack. And she was winding Flurry up as well ! Martine and I decided to stay with the horses and our lunch was brought down to us in plastic containers, not at all what I had imagined. I must admit Gigi's behaviour was beginning to get to me, and then......the fire siren went off. In most small towns across France they still use the old World War II air raid sirens to signify emergencies, and they are LOUD. Appartently it was very funny to watch, Martine and I dropped everything and walked quickly over to our horses and grabbed their lead reins while mutterinng calm sweet endearments to them, meanwhile the volunteer firemen emerged from the café at a run and drove off at speed across the square.
I'd had enough, back off to Céreste to collect S who was riding back down with me, watching Gigi any longer was just going to freak me out! So finally we got mounted, but not before Gigi had stood firmly on my foot, which had me letting out a curdling scream across the square.
She'll settle down once you're mounted said Martine, and in fairness , this is usually the case, but not today! She jumped the gratings in the road and marched off purposefully towards home, with poor Flurry relegated to second place, not his usual position!
So we had an interesting hack home, Flurry broke into a canter, doing nothing for S's fragile nerves, and while Gigi did settle to a certain extent she didn't really relax, taking any excuse for a shy, until we got to the stream near their field for a drink.
OK it wasn't at all what I had expected, but after all the setbacks we've had, we're finally living the dream, and you know, it was great !