Autumn Trail Riding

It is a public holiday here today...

Unlike us Kiwis and Aussies, Italians have firmly protected their time off, and have not succumbed to the Antipodean habit of making holidays “productive.” Rather than set a floating holiday on a Monday or a Friday to assure a three-day weekend, Italians just 'make a bridge'. If a holiday falls on anything other than Monday or Friday, many people will simply take off the extra day(s) in between, creating a long weekend. Schools are the first to join the bandwagon - and therefore all the bridges are official school holidays - meaning anyone with kids is forced to take the day off too.

It is an anniversary of sorts. One year since we closed the business and rehomed the horses. This time last year we completed our final ride. The weather was much colder than this year. Gusty winds blew hard, and we had to wear two or three fleeces/jackets at a time. Dali threw a few mini tantrums up at Castelfalfi when the wind lifted the pieces of tin littered around the old abandoned cattle farm. Taribo chucked in a couple of excited bucks when we all cantered home.

On one of the days out, we ate at Ponte d'Era - a restaurant at the base of Volterra, with a green park for the horses to remain tethered while we ate. We rode right past where our horses now live, and yesterday I took out Dali, Maya and the dogs for a 'ride/walk'.

Leila managed to flush out 12 pheasants as we rode on. Leaping in and out of the bushes, rolling in the grass, and even picking up a tiny pincher 'Amante' who followed us almost the whole way home (until Jack came to the rescue).

My theory is that the more crazy things that happen on the ride the better - as this is the only way a horse learns.

Dali handled everything like an old pro showing that this 'exposure training' has helped him mature. Even as we work in the field, he always has Jack nipping his heels, or Maya throwing clods of dirt, spraying water, or beeping the car horn. Two young horses came galloping out of their boxes, hunters fired shots at close range, dogs ran at him, and of course, pheasants flew all around. He was a first class horse, and the school work we have done recently, meant when I needed to negotiate a river bed, jump a ditch, or chase away Leilas 'amante' - he was soft and responsive, moving off light neck reining and seat aids.

I felt very proud riding him today.