In January I told you about my plans of moving to the French Pyrenees with my Arabian horse, to trail ride everyday, and generally live my best horse girl life! A month ago, we finally made the move. My horse and I are now happy and all settled in our new home. We’ve been exploring the forests and mountains, and I can honestly tell you that these trail rides have been incredible! In this blog I’ll tell you all about the beautiful surroundings and trails here, the transport of my horse, the drive across the continent, and all the other changes that came with the move.
Mountains are my absolute favourite thing, as many of you know, especially if you’ve joined me on one of our equestrian meet-ups. The trail riding opportunities are incredible here. The village I live in is very remote (for European standards), and surrounded by immense forests. Here, my horse and I get to gallop over hills and over the dirt roads in the forests, all while admiring the Pyrenees mountains in the distance. I’ve ridden horses in France before, and it was great, but nothing like this! It’s hard to find mountainous or even hilly areas in which the trail riding can be so fast paced, as paths are often covered with rocks or incredibly steep. For my Arabian and I, getting to combine fast-paced riding with mountains is a dream! The dirt roads connect with nearby towns and villages, and stretch for over 200 kilometers, all the way to the Pyrenees. Horse people in the area, who have lived here for decades, are still discovering new trails!
My lovely horse was transported in a large horse truck. She had been on a trailer before, but a big noisy horse truck with other horses already in it was something completely new. As some of you might have seen on Instagram, I came back from a family holiday on the 22nd of February around 4AM, and had to load my horse onto the truck an hour later! It was a bit tight, but we made it. Even though my horse was very impressed by the truck, she walked on within 15 minutes, which I think is amazing given the fact that it was her first time and it was still pitch dark outside. My poor, sweet horse had a few nerve racking days ahead of her as I packed all my belongings into my tiny Fiat 500 and started the drive down to France. It took me two days and I arrived just a few hours before the horse truck arrived. My horse was first transported to a facility in the south of the Netherlands, where she got a good night's sleep, lots of hay and her transport papers sorted out. When she arrived in the evening of the 24th of February, she was not having the time of her life, understandably. Having to stand in a truck for more than 12 hours is never fun or easy, not even after weeks of resting, eating and sleeping. She was exhausted and overwhelmed. The first night she was able to stay in a nearby stable, as it was already dark outside. So we filled it with lots and lots of straw and immense amounts of hay. We sat together for a while as she settled into her bed for the night, and after about an hour she calmed down a lot, was munching away happily, and looked about ready for a long nap. The next day, she was happy, full of hay, well rested, and excited to walk around. She has always been an incredibly curious horse and when we walked around the village she had to explore everything.
Personally, I have had to settle into new homes quite a few times in my life, having lived, worked and traveled in dozens of countries. I settled into my adorable French gite quickly, having hung my horse pictures and paintings on the walls and my hats on the window handles. After I propped all my saddles, other tack and horse feed on the chairs, I was settled. My horse on the other hand, had never moved in her life, and had only been off-property for visits to the farrier, the indoor arena or trail rides. My horse is a sensitive Arabian mare, and very expressive at that, so you can imagine her shock when she arrived in the French countryside, surrounded by hills and funny looking gray horses. Luckily, and I think this is something every horse girl dreams of, I have a good view of my horse’s field from my gite, and can keep a close eye on her. She adjusted quickly, and after the initial shock about the existence of hills and mountains, she settled in very fast. She has always been stabled at night, and turned out during the day, but here she gets to be out in the fields all day and night! I was a bit nervous and anxious to see when and if she would get used to this. However, my worries were not needed and she slept laying down on the first night already (not the best horsey instinct, good thing she wasn’t born a wild horse - she wouldn’t last long). It ended up being amazing for her, both mentally and physically, and I will tell you all about the changes I noticed in her in a separate blog post.
In the summer of 2023, horse riders that have ridden with us before on our equestrian meet-ups are welcome to visit us in France and help with finding routes. I’m still exploring and planning trails, and have two horses (ponies) at the moment, so can take 1 rider at the time. This year we won’t organise equestrian meet-ups yet, but we are preparing to start organising horse riding holidays in this paradise in 2024. Keep an eye on our website and Instagram to stay up to date! Or subscribe to our newsletter below to be the first to know about upcoming horse riding holidays worldwide.
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