So recently I’ve had the chance to explore my inner cowgirl in both the United States and France. I haven’t much experience being atop a horse so didn’t quite know what to expect. I did know however that I found these creatures huge and enormously intimidating.
In the US the horses my sister and I rode were somewhat fatter, older, and slower – trend going around in the country you think? Also the saddles were much more comfortable. In France the horses were younger, sleeker and the saddles were definitely less comfortable-think big comfy SUV vs. small, cramped French car. It was also less expensive to do the horseback riding in the US.
In both cases, I went on a guided tour (1 to 1.5 hours) of the surrounding countryside. In the Greensboro, NC area, you can go horseback riding at Tanglewood Park. The trails are gorgeous but you ride for only a bit under an hour. Also expect your guide to be really chatty and a little nosy (but perhaps that’s just an American thing). In France, we went to Cheval Nature , which is a little more than an hour outside of Paris, in the Rambouillet area. We had to rent a car to get there. Deb and I went on the guided tour for beginners and Mat and Jules rented their own horses and went off on their own for the day – did I mention they returned 5 hours later full of mud, sweat drenched horses, testosterone, and sore muscles?
You will not find me at my most comfortable atop a horse. But I do enjoy being out in nature, especially on a beautiful fall morning. Nonetheless, I am fidgety and tend to wear an anxious smile on my face.
You know how you imagine the worst in those adrenaline ridden situations and then when the worst almost happens-you’re shocked and totally unprepared. Well ladies and gentleman, it happened to me. Towards the end of the tour, just as I was finally feeling comfortable, my horse (Quest) got spooked from a biker and reared up with his two front feet in the air! I had to hang on for dear life (after I let out a bloodcurdling scream of course that resonated throughout the French countryside). I really thought I was going to fall off and die. Luckily, I didn’t but needless to say, I trembled the whole way back. I think horses are wonderful, fascinating creatures but I think I rather prefer not being atop them. Also, I have this nagging opinion that horses (with the exception of circus animals) are the only animals that humans have bred for pure pleasure and money-making and which are rarely used (at least not in Western societies) for useful purposes…not sure if I like this concept much but it is what it is !