I’ve ridden abroad twice: once in Italy, once in France. Although I had independent control of my mounts, both occasions were basically glorified pony rides. Both occurred during my semester abroad in France.
My father came over for business in Italy. I went to visit him. (This all sounds terrible jet-set doesn’t it? Really, my teen and college years were as well-off, white-bread suburban as one can get. Comfortable, fortunate, but not the slightest bit exotic. But I digress.) One of the paralegals(?), junior lawyers(?), at the Italian firm exercised racehorses in the mornings. I was brought along.
It rained, so we were limited to walking and trotting in a small, covered exercise shed. I have no idea what I would’ve done had we been sent to the track. It’s possible I wasn’t completely tuned into what was going on until they heaved me up on the horse. My Italian was even more nonexistent than my French, which was pathetically abysmal after 10 years of French class.
What I remember was that the horse was a dark bay, and reasonably well-behaved, at least at a walk and trot in a closed space. The woman I came with was at the opposite end of the herd. I could see her but not talk to her, nor have her translate.
The guys around me kept mentioning the ‘Piccolo Americana’, which even I could figure out meant Little American. I was tall – my adult height of 5’8″ – but thin – less than 120 pounds. I would not put on adult weight until I married my personal chef. Little wasn’t a far off description. On the other hand, I have no idea what they were saying about the piccolo Americana. They could have been marveling at my flawless equitation, or saying, Dear God in Heaven what is she doing up there? We can’t let the lawyer’s daughter get hurt.
That was riding in Italy.
A group of us went down to the Camargue for a guided horse tour. Since I was the only equestrian, everyone expected me to dash about in a vivid display of horsemanship. Meh. I have plenty of opportunity to gallop nut-case Throughbreds at home. I’d never been to France. I was perfectly content with my happy little stroll through the pretty marshland. Horse and I trailed the field the entire ride.
That was riding in France.
Or It Didn’t Happen
This was long before cell phone cameras or cheap photography. So, no pics. Photos were taken of our French ride. I did not buy mine, although I wanted to. I can still pull up the image in my mind’s eye: a vertical shot, taken with a long lens from a low vantage point by the horse’s left shoulder, so that horse and rider dominate the frame at a three-quarter angle. The white horse is surrounded by green plants and blue sky. I am smiling at the photographer. A nice image quickly printed on incredibly cheap paper.
One member of our group took it up themselves to engage in a heated discussion with the photographer about the photos we had supposedly “ordered” and the outrageous price being charged. I didn’t overrule my friend because, the price was indeed outrageous, it was clearly a tourist trap, and I wimped out. Now, 36 (!) years later, it would be a fun photograph to have.
I’ve never ridden seriously, much less competed in another country. I wouldn’t go so far to say it’s on my bucket list, but it would be cool. Have you ridden abroad? Tell us in the comments. Better yet, write me a guest post [Riding in Reykjavik].
Clip art via Inkscape import, Go Inkscape!: Free Commercial Use Clip Art for Inkscape, openclipart.org: share
Thank you for reading … and possibly writing,