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Equestrian Vacations

 

Her English Adventures -- She Rides Horses

 

I rode a horse named Rosie...

I saw fresh water reach salt for myself the next morning. Cathy had arranged a ride up to Selworthy Beacon, and had already introduced me to Rosie, the Welsh Cob who was my mount. She'd also tactfully suggested before I arrived in the U.K. that I brush up on my English riding.

With my teenaged riding lessons some 15 years behind me, I'd taken her advice. Riding in Canada at the National Capital Equestrian Park's arena, I was amazed at how much I remembered. The real test, however, was to come.

Thanks to being 5'9" tall, I was able to plant my foot in the left stirrup and hoist myself into Rosie's saddle without any embarrassing boosts. But what had seemed easy in the arena back home required more attention here: "Tighten up on the reins," Cathy reminded me gently.

horseWe set off through the woods, first walking, then trotting. Rosie seemed intent on putting her head down and she occasionally balked at hills, but we got on well, with me feeling more like the driver than a passenger. (Horses are notorious for knowing the difference.)


Cantering, red mud and soft rainshowers...

"Want to canter?" invited Cathy, as I admired the view. Yes, I did, and Rosie needed no urging. I gave new meaning to "gripping with my thighs" as a thick red mud, courtesy of the storm, splattered up around us. I couldn't wipe the exhilarated grin off my face when we slowed: I'd stayed on, enjoyed myself, and only had a split-second when my adrenaline surged from thinking I was losing my seat.

pine treesA soft rainshower embraced us as we later rode down through the woods beside a rushing, rock-strewn brook. Rosie had allowed me to see much more of the countryside than I could have on foot, yet I was still open to nature's sounds, scents and touches, and I didn't mind the rain.

The path home took us through Allerford, where I'd first debated with the stream. It flowed faster, fuller, today, and as I urged Rosie through the foot-deep water, I realized I'd come full circle.

I'd arrived in England hoping to reconnect with a country that was once my home. But in Exmoor, I reconnected with the land itself.


Location, Location, Location

A Lovely Bed and Breakfast Experience:
The bed & breakfast at Exmoor Falconry & Animal Farm comprises three rooms (two double and one twin-bedded) that share one well-equipped main bathroom. Rates range from �17.50 to �25 per person, per night, and include a delicious full English breakfast. The farm permits dogs -- and even horses, should they be travelling with you. horsemanFalconry, hawk walks, horseback riding and wildlife safaris can also bearranged through the Farm, which has an extensive range of domestic and exotic animals and birds. You can reach Cathy and Glenn Powell at 011441643 862816 (phone and fax), or check out their website at http://www.exmoorfalconry.co.uk/.

Best Riding Places:
Exmoor itself is one of the best places for riding in England, with miles of trails and dozens of riding establishments. Several are listed in the British Tourist Authority's "Riding Holidays " brochure, available from their many offices around the world.


Yvonne�s know-before-you-go advice...

These bags are made for walking:
hiking bootsYou won't go far in Exmoor without realizing what a great invention boot bags are. Parking the car and heading off on one of the myriad footpaths usually means wet and muddy footwear, making a shoe change essential. Plastic carrier bags for your boots will keep the mud out of the car, but you can also buy rugged, breathable boot bags for this purpose. I found an excellent sample for about �10 at the Exmoor National Park shop in nearby Dunster.

Lorna Doone Country:
For the literary minded, bring along a copy of R.D. Blackmore's "Lorna Doone," set in the area of Exmoor's Badgworthy Water. (Copies of the book are also readily available in Exmoor for as little as 99p.)

Travellers cheques come in handy:
Although English automated banking machines resemble those back home, don't count on them. Despite displaying your banking network's insignia, they may give you a "not accessible" message. Even in this electronic age, travellers cheques are still useful.

And...  

Make very sure you pack an umbrella and a raincoat!

 

 

 


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