Riding holiday blog: the cowboys of the Camargue

  • And what did I do today? I was a freakin’ cowgirl baby!

    This was no escorted hack with a man in a cowboy hat, either — I arrived at the stables, fetched my own horse in, (admittedly didn’t tack up because by the time I had figured out the saddle it probably would have been dark), was thrown on and expected to get on with it.

    Oh, and I am pleased to report that I was riding a Camargue pony today, so they don’t think that I’m fat after all. His name was Elegant (or something along those lines when said with a French accent) and he is usually worked by the gardians (cowboys), so he was rather spritely and fun — at least he was once I had mastered the art of having little to no contact and he had stopped doing rein-back, that is.

    So off we set on our mission to round up the herd of bulls which roam the estate. I was, understandably I thought, quite nervous about the horns and such like, but actually it turns out the bulls are more scared of the horses than I am of them. Who knew. I’d like to think that I kept up and joined in without getting in the way, amid much “Come on VictorIA!” when they thought I was hanging back too much, and we soon had the bulls safely in the pen we were headed for. Too soon for my liking.

    At this point we began separating them. First we needed to choose three bulls and a couple of calves for the bull games this evening, then separate the rest of the bulls and calves. The bulls were turned back out, while the calves were kept in to be branded later today.

    In fact, I really must stop blogging right about now, as much as I would love to go into more detail, as I am expected back at the stables in about half an hour for the branding and games. I have been assured that the games aren’t cruel, which is a relief — they just tie ribbons to the horns and then compete to collect them in an arena.

    And hopefully I will be back in time for one last dinner in the restaurant here at Mas de Peint, which really is fabulous. The food, the wine, the service, the gypsy guitarists playing into the small hours… I’m really, truly not hoping that the ash cloud stops me from going home tomorrow. Honest.

    • Always dreamt of riding in the Camargue? This horse riding holiday is organised by Zara’s Planet. You can follow Victoria’s experience via twitter at www.twitter.com/horseandhound and don’t miss our special holiday issue, which will include Victoria’s full report, suggestions of other dream French holidays and ideas for great UK forest rides, on sale 30 June.

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