Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Vive la différence...?

We've been back in the UK for about a year and a half now, and there are some things I've really noticed are different over here when it comes to horses. Before we moved to France I never owned a horse, keeping one was too expensive basically. I rode a lot though, worked at a local stables when I was younger, learned the "traditional" way of doing things, saw people out and about on horses all the time, it all seemed normal to me.

But after 12 years in France, my perspective has definitely changed. I got my first horse, realised how much I didn't know, started questioning things, learning new things, going to clinics, riding with lots of different people and gradually things evolved from me having a horse because I wanted to ride to having a horse (or two, or three) because I also like being with them and working with them, and wanted to understand them better and make their lives as pleasant and stress-free as possible as domestic horses.
Ali and Seraphina competing at Porte Ste Foy

In France, Ali and I hacked out on hairy, muddy horses. We rode in rope headcollars or bitless bridles, we showed up at TREC or endurance competitions in hi viz gear with never a thought of plaiting, or turnout. Yes, you were expected to put a jacket (if it wasn't too hot!) and light jodhs on for jumping, but that was about it. Never even saw a sign of  hairnets or tweed......apart from on the ex-pats ;-)

Gandalf and I at a TREC competition in Cleyrac
Over here, we continue to hack out on hairy, muddy horses. No one else seems to though! We meet many shiny, clean horses, often sporting a collection of exercise sheets, boots and bandages that make it hard to see the horse underneath it all. They often quite literally look down on us from the lofty height of their TB/WB/sports horse types and very few of them say as much as hello. If you met someone out hacking in France, you'd stop for a chat, even if you'd never met them before. Only one other rider has done that to us since we got here (and she was riding a barefoot horse in a headcollar).

In France, no one mentioned the fact that you were riding a draft cross, cos often they were too. No one saw the need to comment that your horse didn't have shoes on, cos often theirs didn't either. And in all the years of riding over there no one ever felt the need to tell me that riding in a headcollar on the road is dangerous because I don't have control over my horse without a bit. Here on the other hand.........

I miss France!

1 comment:

Tails FromProvence said...

I kept horses for 20+ years in Ireland and it's been an eye-opener for me here, too. Actually, more of a mind-opener when I think about it...

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