Chestnut : Two English Women in the Lot Sheila Tragett For many….

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Blue Lanyard with Horse print - Gifts Horses-store.comChestnut : Two English Women in the Lot Sheila Tragett For many….

“Kerry’s work as a management consultant focused on understanding the dynamics of business to improve decision making and business performance.

She uses these techniques in the book to explore the dynamics of riding and training horses…..literally what affects what when we ride.

By better understanding these dynamics we can make better choices and improve our riding performance.

Unlike many books on riding and training the author is not a professional horsewoman.

Kerry freely admits that she is not a natural rider.

She struggles with nerves, with tension (mental and physical) and with physical problems.

She started writing in a diary to capture the results of her own riding experiments.

What she had tried.

What had worked.

What hadn’t.

Why? What to try next.

She found that her writing complemented and reinforced what she had learnt about herself and the riding process.
 As she started to structure her notes she realised that these could benefit other riders similar to herself and, through these riders, the horses they ride.

The decision to donate the profits of the book to her favourite international horse charity, the Brooke Organisation, completed the project.

Kerry says, “I liked the idea of a book written to benefit riders and their horses in the developed world also benefiting horses and their owners in the less developed world”.”
 To find out more about “Riding Dynamics” take a look at Kerry’s blog: HYPERLINK “http://www.ridingdynamics.blogspot.com” www.ridingdynamics.blogspot.com or contact Kerry directly on 05 55 78 29 94. Two English Women in the Lot – Sheila Tragett For many years the dream for my daughter Caroline and myself had been to go on a holiday with our horse, a chestnut thoroughbred gelding, called Bushmills Irish.

At last we were able to make plans to visit the Caussses de Quercy during the first week of October 2006. Ben and I had moved to France in 2003, and Caroline works in London as a picture frames conservator in a London Art Gallery.

We had bought Irish in 1997 as a young polocrosse pony for Caroline, and during the following years he had also done some endurance competitions and Riding Club cross-country, as well as playing polocrosse for 5 seasons.

As a second mount we had borrowed Cappuccino, a little 4 year old Lusitanian gelding. We arrived at our first overnight stop on Sunday afternoon, 1st October, at the Domaine de Lagardelle, 6 km from Rocamadour.

Our Swiss host welcomed us warmly and offered the horses the choice of field or box..

Monday morning broke warm and sunny and with no need to pack our saddlebags, as we planned to ride a northerly circuit, alongside the banks of the River Ouysse, a tributary which flows into the Dordogne at Lacave, a village dominated by the magnificent castle of Belcastel.

Here we crossed walnut groves, their owners busy harvesting the nuts, and whilst we had lunch in a little hotel, we watched the sad procession of a funeral cortege, in sharp contrast to the perfection of a warm autumn day.

Climbing the rocky path of the Combe Cuiller, between dripping wet vegetation, we passed prehistoric shelters, but as we emerged from the wood, we suddenly came face to face with modern life in the form of Lacave airstrip! That day turned out to be the easiest, in spite of the rocky, twisting paths and steep valleys – good training for ourselves and the horses for the ensuing days’riding. Tuesday morning, we awoke to rain, wind and the forecast of severe storms! Beneath a slate grey sky we saddled the horses, put on our raincoats, fearing we would have to return to Lagardelle if the weather continued as menacing.

However, we were so lucky! While all around us were storms, we were able to take off our raincoats after an hour, and then our pullovers as the sun emerged.

We took the GR6 towards Rocamadour, and then turned south-eastwards on the GR46, which took us to our stopover at la Bastide-Murat.

Although we were unable to find anywhere to buy anything to eat for our picnic lunch, the horses enjoyed the grass in a little field reminiscent of an Alpine meadow, and when Cappuccino decided to have a good roll in the mud, we nearly rechristened him Chocolate! At one point during the afternoon, we had to cross, then recross the A20 by a small roadbridge with transparent panels , and although we were quite worried the traffic below us would scare the horses, they weren’t in the slightest bit concerned. Wednesday morning, once more in the rain, we followed a well marked bridle path running south east towards our next destination, Marcilhac-su-Cele.

Once past Caniac-du-Causse, the small fields gave way to a more wooded landscape, and to our left we saw the slopes covered by the stunted oaks of the Forest of Braunhie.

This time we had managed to buy a snack in a boulangerie before leaving, and so we stopped for lunch on one of the rare grassy tracks (most were stony) much to the delight of a young gentleman all of 10 years, who emerged from his Granny’s house, shook us by the hand very politely and asked us very serious questions about our horses.

He was thrilled when we offered him a ride, and promised to send him a photo of himself mounted on Rish.That night the horses slept in a field beside the River Cele, and we were billeted in an impressive maison du bourg, where breakfast offered 10 different varieties of homemade jam! Thursday we took the D41 and actually rode along tarmac for a few kilometres until we got on to the GR 651 at St.Sulpice.

From there we had a fantastic view of the valley of the R.Cele, with ancient troglodyte houses clinging to the sides of the cliffs.

For us it was the hardest day, not because of the terrain, but because we couldn’t rely on the route being signposted, so had to pay great attention to the map.

It was also the longest riding day, at least 35 km, and it was 7 o’clock in the evening when we eventually arrived at our lodging, 3 km from Gramat.

There was no table d’hotes here, we were staying in a little one roomed gite with cooking facilities, but obviously we had nothing to cook, and we had even managed to lose our lunch through a hole in the plastic bag attached to our saddle caused by thorns along a narrow path, so we were starving! Our kind hosts took us by car to Gramat, recommended a little restaurant and returned an hour later to collect us. All too soon we were approaching the end of our adventure.

But not before a very exciting stage, as we descended into an extremely narrow part of the Vallee de l’Alzou.

It took us nearly 2 hours to go one kilometre! We had to keep crossing from one side to the other of the stream, along paths akin to stone staircases, the ground practically sheer to the rushing waters.

From time to time we passed the sad ruins of ancient watermills, but at last the gorge widened out into the green valley beneath the terraces of Rocamadour.

Wow, our horses were even able to have a little canter before embarking on the last long climb towards the Domaine de Lagardelle and their horsebox.

Irish knew exactly where he was going and attacked the last hill with renewed vigour in spite of his tiredness. It was truly 5 wonderful days, and 150 km of randonnee a cheval which we will never forget, and which has spurred us on to an annual holiday on horseback.

Next episode to follow…………………

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