The day had arrived! We got to officially meet “our” horse for the next 6 days.
We piled on all of our layers, fully aware we would be riding into snow that morning and had a quick breakfast of breads, croissants, jams and coffee. Since the plans had changed, we would be staying in that hotel for a second night and we didn’t have to pack all of our gear that morning. Made it a little easier to deal with a groggy morning of sickness and jet lag.
We all lent a hand to bring the horses in and tie them to the biggest horse box I have ever seen (pretty sure it was bigger inside than my apartment)! After that, Jean walked down the horse line and called riders to each horse. Waiting, waiting, waiting. We got to the very end, I was the last horse. “Sarah!” and he pointed to a teeny tiny chestnut mare who honestly couldn’t care less about me. I was told she was the best bred there, which did have me wonder what I was in for… seems like a complement reserved for naughty horses – but her name was “Assez Facile” or “Quite Easy” so that sounded promising enough.
We received our tack, groomed, and tacked up. We walked our horses down the side of the road to get them warmed up before stopping in a sheltered area to mount up. Alright, this is it! I was the first up, aside from Julia who walks with a cane and rides like a badass (she mounted in camp).
Aaaaand…. no drama. Girl knew her job and that this wasn’t the start of a race, just a fun adventure! Once everyone was aboard, we set off. For a chestnut arab mare, she sure was happy! Ears just flopping along the whole time. Nothing bothered her!
This day, we did a loop which we were told included the finish of the Florac 160km race. We started in green and at the halfway point (lunch break!), our surroundings were white. I must admit, none of us were all that bothered by the snow. We were having too much fun. Plus, being Canadian I had all sorts of unsolicited snow riding advice to pass on to the other riders lol.
By the end of the day we were back into the green again and back to our hotel in Florac. We dined down the road at a Portugese restaurant which was just wonderful, and provided some more What The France moments.
As with any of these adventures, Day 1 is a bit of a happy blur. Sorry this post is a little slim… I must admit my memory is not what it used to be. Its possible the wine at all meals played into this. A lot of the first ride day is setting the stage for the following days – getting to know your horse, the routine, what to expect at lunch (trust me, it was divine!) and getting a feel for the other riders – or for our group, getting to know the new riders and catching up with the old!