Horse riding in the French Pyrenees


Living with my beautiful horses in the Pyrenees mountains of France is an absolute dream come true for me, and this summer I got to share that dream with an absolutely incredible person and rider. We discovered new horse riding trails, saw incredible sights, enjoyed evenings around the bonfire, and explored the nearby medieval city.

Western horse and rider on trail in the South of France
Shirt (and all I ever wear...) from Wrangler

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Horses ready for trail riding

A week of trail riding in the south of France

First, let's hear what the lovely Jane had to say about our week of horse riding in France.

“I've just returned from meeting Sanne and I couldn't have asked for a better host. I was thoroughly spoiled. Every day (except when it poured) we rode in different directions thru the undulating green hills & fields & along country lanes, stopping for a picnic halfway & to rest the horses. We fitted in lots of canters as the horses are fit & happy to oblige. The fun continued once home...Sanne introduced me to liberty groundwork which I now plan to use at home. She's a great teacher: patient & encouraging. We even made time to visit the nearby medieval town & try some local food. All in all, a wonderful week with a great balance of activity & chill time.”

You can read Jane’s review and view her photos here.

Horses taking a break from trail riding and grazing in the forest
Saddle from Euro Horse

Exploring the hills of forest of France on horseback

We went horse riding (almost) every day, with Jane riding the lovely Pottok pony Sukur, and me riding Bats, my Shagya Arabian mare. Quite often, we explored new horse trails that the horses and I had never done before. Most of the time we found lovely routes, and sometimes we got horribly lost, but we always had fun! One time in particular we were so lost that we ended up going in circles for quite a while before we finally decided to get out of the forest and back on the trail as there was simply no way out of the forest. We did squeeze in some lovely long canters and gallops through the fields and forests as we were trying to find a way through. We also ended up at some lovely viewpoints during the trail rides, where the horses got a chance to catch their breath after climbing the steep hills and we admired the view of the Pyrenees mountains!

Horse and donkeys on a trail ride in France

Adventuring out on trail

A week of horse riding almost every day means we covered lots of ground, and saw lots of interesting things! Besides our adventure of getting incredibly lost in the forest, we also rode the ponies through picturesque villages and farms (where we saw some extremely pretty donkeys!), learnt about the incredible sure-footedness of the horses as we manoeuvred down steep hills, and galloped through fields that we found out later we were not allowed to be in...Oops! Sukur is a lovely pony that usually has lots of go, but the first few days he was having a hard time finding his groove! After a few days however, Jane and Sukur really created a connection through riding and liberty work, and he became the lovely forward pony he usually is. Still, of course, a lot slower than my 16hh Arabian, but always up for a canter including a happy buck at the start.

Also read: A day in the life of a horse girl in the south of France

Glass of wine and bottle of beer cheers by a lake in the south of France
Cheers! At Lac de Montbel.

A day of trail riding to the lake (gone wrong!)

As you can see in the photo above, we had drinks by the beautiful lake on one of our horse riding days. However, we were supposed to get there by horse! We prepared for the long trail ride the day before by riding the horses to a village down the road, where they spent a night in a lovely lush grass field. The next day we set out on trail in the morning, to the lake. The horses and I had never done this trail before, and it hadn't been done on horseback by anyone in quite some time. However, the trails are well kept so we decided to give it a shot! I had my backpack filled with snacks and drinks, and took the horse paddock with me to set up during lunch by the lake. We soon found out the trails were extremely rocky and there were no fields or grassy patches next to the trail to ride on, which resulted in extremely long walks, no trotting and cantering, and a sensitive Sukur. Being a Pottok (mountain) pony, I don't have him shod as he is very hardy, but these trails were too rocky even for him. We decided to change our route and made our way out of the forest, through a nearby village, and cantered the horses back through big grass fields and next to the farm roads. Once we arrived in the village where we had started in the morning, we decided to put the horses back in the field, and drive to the lake for a few drinks! We had a lovely time and after lunch and drinks at the lake, we rode the horses back home from the field where they'd spent the night. Only to realise that I had left my house keys behind! I was luckily able to break into my own house (very easily...) and then went to pick up the keys and my car. An adventurous day that didn't go at all according to plan, but was still loads of fun! 

Trail riding with horses in the South of France through a forest
Backpack from Osprey

Hanging out with the kitten

Thankfully for me, but especially for my kitten Sarabi, Jane loves cats! Lots of downtime was spent with the cute (but crazy) kitten in her lap, by the fire, and playing. Sarabi absolutely loved Jane and would climb over and/or barge through the barricade at night into her room to snuggle up with her.

relaxing by the fire with champagne and kitten

Exploring the medieval city of Mirepoix

As Jane said in her review, we also made time to visit the nearby city of Mirepoix, which has a medieval city center filled with bars, restaurants and bakeries. We indulged in the local cuisine, and of course the wine! We admired the view of the cathedral and chatted away about horses, as horse girls so often do.

Horse riding on a dirt road in France
Exploring new trails with the horses!

Time to relax at the house

When we weren't riding horses, exploring the neighbouring town, or sipping wine by the lake, we relaxed at the house. Jane read her book in one of the hammocks with a view on the horses, or we would have drinks and chats around the bonfire as it started to cool down in the evenings.

Also read: The packing guide to being comfortable on your horse riding adventure abroad

Western horse and rider with cattle in France
Lots of cattle in the green fields!

Practicing liberty work

Jane had expressed in learning about liberty work, so we also did some lessons throughout the week with Jane and Sukur. They were both inexperienced but learnt extremely fast. After just one week the difference was incredible! 

Also read: Moving to France with my horse

Photo by Stine Andersen, taking with DJI drone

A big thank you to Jane for coming to stay with the horses, the kitten and I in France, we absolutely loved having you here!

If you're interested in coming to stay and ride in France with the horses and I next year, feel free to contact me!

Looking to combine the mountains and the beach on horseback in France? Try this 8 day horse riding trek combining the Basque mountains and Atlantic beach in the Landes, or this 8 day Atlantic coast trail riding Holiday in Mimizan, Landes. Interested in meditation and yoga with horses in France? Have a look at this 8 day coaching with horses, meditation and yoga retreat in Montbel, Occitanie.

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