Tag Archives: equestrian holidays

Why should you book a French riding holiday in June? Here are 3 excellent reasons…

Riding holidays in France
A bee orchid

There’s something very special about the Lot Valley in June.

The fields are bursting with colour and life, and the temperature is balmy. So, here are three excellent reasons to book your riding holiday in France then:

  1. You’ll spot beautiful orchids

Plant-lovers will be amazed at the range of wild flowers in bloom in Lot during June. The area is famed for its wild orchids including:

Military orchid – a small, purple orchid which blooms on the roadside in the Lot Valley. Look out for this from mid-May onwards.

Greater butterfly orchid – lovely white flowers which look like small butterflies, growing in a V formation. They love sunny woodlands.

Lesser butterfly orchid – a beautiful white orchid found in wooded areas and blooming from May onwards. Can be distinguished from the greater version because the flowers are parallel.

Woodcock orchid – grows on verges and roadsides and is often mistaken for the larger bee orchid.

Bee orchid – a soft, pink flower which is seen in meadows and pastures in June.

Man orchid – a rare bloom found in the High Causse and in flower in June.

Red helleborine – grows on the edge of woods and flowers between April and June. Look for these flowers in the Foret de Braunhie.

Dark red helleborine – a rare flower which comes into bloom in late June. Look for it in rocky limestone in the High Causse.

Chalk fragrant orchid – a pink flower with a lovely scent, look for it in grasslands in June.

Common spotted orchid – flowers well into June. This flower loves chalk grasslands so look for them in fields and meadows.

Frog orchid – a rare bloom with a green-brown colour which makes it hard to spot. Look for it in open woodlands and fens throughout June and July.

Heath spotted orchid – a flower found on acidic soils including peat bogs and marshy pastures which is seen in June.

Bird’s nest orchid – lives in leaf litter in beech woodland and comes into flower in May and June.

  1. You’ll enjoy pleasant weather

It won’t be too hot during your visit in June. The average temperature high is 25C and a night-time low of 12C. So, riding will be warm and comfortable – you won’t face searing temperatures. Plus, you’ll also be able to sleep well at night.

There is also an average of eight hours of sunshine a day. The climate here in June is balmy.

  1. You’ll see amazing butterflies and birds

The proliferation of wild flowers mean Lot has many butterfly and moth species which you could see in June. Look out for rare Swallowtails, Meadow Fritillaries, Glanville, the Adonis Blue, and the Provencal Short-tailed Blue in limestone country including the Causse. In forests, you may see the Camberwell Beauty, Lesser Purple Emperor, Cardinal, and Southern White Admiral.

The number of insect species also attracts a large number of birds – perfect for any ornithologist. Look out for a hoopoe, short-toed eagle, marsh harriers, kites, buzzards, and black redstarts.

Are you ready to enjoy the relaxing atmosphere of Lot in June? Click here to book your riding holiday in France.

 

 

Meet the Normandy Cob on your riding holiday in France – a horse with bags of personality!

Horse riding holidays in France
Dunka and Bamboo, our Normandy Cobs

If you’re looking for a calm, willing horse which is also athletic and energetic, why not ride a Normandy Cob?

They are hardy French horses which resemble thoroughbreds with a more robust frame, and they are popular for driving and riding.

In fact, in 2011 more than 33% of the horses in the French driving championships were Normandy Cobs.

They are famed for the length of their striding trots, and their stud book records seal brown, chestnut, and bay colourings. Official records for the breed have been kept for almost 70 years – the first stud book was produced in 1950.

The breed was used by the French military to pull artillery and by the French postal service to deliver and pick up mail. The cob was also used widely in agriculture in Northern France.

It originated in Normandy as a cross between the small horses of the area, the bidets, and the Carrossier Normand, a now-extinct breed of carriage horse which was widely seen in the early 20th Century.

While other breeds were threatened by mechanisation in agriculture and other industries, Normandy Cob breeders crossed their horses with thoroughbreds and that contributed to the French national saddle horse breed, the Selle Français.

In the 1980s, breeders worked hard to stem the threat of inbreeding and genetic drift to ensure the Normandy Cob had a bright future. Now, they can be seen in different parts of France, especially in Calvados, Manche, and Orne.

Normandy Cobs are hugely popular for all sorts of equestrian pursuits because they are calm and have winning personalities.

What does a typical Normandy Cob look like?

These elegant horses generally stand between 15.25 hands and 16.35 hands high, and weigh between 550kg and 900kg.

There are large variations in weight and height throughout the breed, though, caused by the different uses for the horses.

Look for a square profile and a short back, a head with good proportions, a convex or straight facial profile, wide nostrils, and small ears.

Normandy Cobs have a deep chest, broad, angled shoulders, muscular, short legs, and powerful hindquarters. They have round, strong feet and shed their shaggy winter coats in Spring.

The most popular Normandy Cob colourings include bays with white markings, chestnut, and seal brown.

Bamboo is schooledMeet our Normandy Cobs…

Dunka – Standing at 16.3 hands high, Dunka will be five this year. She is gentle, friendly, and loves to have fun. Our visitors adore her!

Bamboo – He will be four this year, and is a typical example of the calm, friendly Normandy Cob. Bamboo stands at 17 hands high, so is a large example of the breed. He is very popular with our riders.

Would you like to meet our Normandy Cobs in person? They’re ideal horses to develop your riding skills because they’re calm and friendly. Book your French riding holiday today. You can contact us here.

Bamboo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Want to improve your riding or horse-handling skills? Discover our week-long intensive training course

Riding holidays in France
Get closer to horses and learn valuable skills with our intensive training

Have you hankered after a week-long experience which would allow you to spend as much time as possible with horses?

If so, our intensive training week would be an ideal experience for you. It’s back by popular demand in 2018 after two courses in May and September 2017 and will help you learn about horse care, bonding with your horse, and riding skills.

For the week starting May 5, 2018, we’re offering you our all-inclusive, bespoke intensive riding workshop holiday.

Alongside the long, leisurely rides for which Château de Laumière is famed, you’ll receive a one-to-one training programme which we tailor specially to your individual needs.

You’ll be able to spend the entire day handling and working with horses.

This is ideal for riders who want to learn more or those who want to improve their confidence.

For some riders, a fall or a scare can knock that confidence in the saddle.

Our highly-qualified riding instructor Tanya will help you overcome your fears. She is calm, sympathetic, and has years of experience.

The intensive course will give you valuable skills including:

  • Groundwork – the basis of riding and handling skills, with lunging, join-up, long-lining, and work on the ground.
  • Dressage – our manege is the perfect place to learn and hone dressage skills, especially if you’re interested in competitions.
  • Jumping – always wanted to jump but have never learned how? Perhaps you need a refresher after a break of several years. Come to our intensive course where our experienced instructor will show you what you need to know.

Whatever you need, we’ll tailor our course to help you. It’s all about helping you to enjoy horses and riding.

Our course is for all levels of rider, not just those who are very experienced, and you can attend whether you own your own horse or not.

It’s about developing your skills the way you want to take them. Whatever you want to do more of, we’ll help you achieve that.

We’ll be offering the usual morning ride, with intensive sessions in the afternoons.

Our intensive training week always starts with Tanya discussing the group’s needs, them formulating the training.

You’ll enjoy the beautiful countryside, riding trails free of traffic, authentic local cuisine, and relaxing atmosphere, too!

Meet our horses…

We have a horse to suit every rider – from traditional French Mérens horses to thoroughbreds.

Here are a few of them:

Hope – An Arab/Mérens cross standing at 14.3hh. A beautiful horse with a wonderful character.

Ursala – A beautiful Heinz standing at 14.3hh. A safe, comfortable, and kind horse.

Rocco – A Portuguese standing at 15hh. Bags of character and a sense of fun, but a safe ride.

Chico – An Andalucian standing at 16hh. One of our most popular horses, who loves our visitors.

Atila – A Lusitanian standing at 16.3hh. Likes to show off skills in dressage.

Nao – A Mérens standing at 15hh. A sensible and comfortable horse.

Would you like to book a place in our intensive training week? It’s worth doing so soon – they tend to go quickly. You can contact us here.

The wonderful wildlife you could spot on your riding holiday in Lot

French riding holidays
You may spot a hoopoe

Whether you’re walking or on horseback, Lot is a wonderful place to see wildlife during your French riding holiday.

You could see all sorts of animals – from mammals and birds to insects and lizards.

The area has excellent natural habitats including woodlands, grasslands, and small areas along the River Lot where people once washed their clothes. They have now become mini wildlife sanctuaries, attracting all sorts of animals.

Here is some of the wonderful wildlife you could see during your stay:

  1. Roe deer, known as Chevreuil in France, are a wonderful sight for our visitors. At certain times of the year, you will see them grazing in the fields.
  1. You may be fortunate enough to spot a loirs, a large dormouse also known as the glis glis. Although their population is spread across rural France, they are not common.
  1. The rare putois, a polecat, lives off frogs and small mammals and has been found across France. You may be lucky enough to come across this nocturnal relative of the ferret and otter.
  1. Wild boar have been spotted across France. It is estimated there are two million of them in the country, and they tend to congregate in areas where agricultural land meets woodland.
  1. Pine martens, known as martres in French, live in woodland across the French countryside, and you may well see red squirrels – now a rare sight in most of the UK.
Riding holidays in France
A praying mantis
  1. There is a wealth of insect life including the praying mantis, green scarab beetles, Be crickets or cri-cri in French, grasshoppers, bees, wasps, and moths and butterflies such as swallowtails and hawk moths – especially the humming bird hawk moth.
  1. You may well see some lizards. Small brown lizards are relatively common, skittering around in the undergrowth. Although salamanders are rare, you may spot them. Treat them with respect – they are a protected species.
  1. The bird life of Lot is rich. You’ll probably hear owls, including the Scops owl, cuckoos, and nightingales during your stay. You may spot marsh harriers, black redstarts, buzzards, or kites, and some visitors have reported seeing short-toed eagles flying above the limestone cliffs near Rocamadour. Many are keen to see a hoopoe, a small bird with an exotic look which is the size of a mistle thrush. It’s distinctive pink-brown body and crest, black and white wings, and black, downcurved bill make it simple to spot. These are rarely seen outside the very south of the UK, but are far more common in France.

Is it time to book your next riding holiday in France?

If you book next year’s stay before the end of December, we will fix it at this year’s price.

You can check out our prices here.

Think of all the beautiful wildlife you could see in a stunning, relaxing part of the world.

 

 

Meet the MĂ©rens, a horse with a unique place in French history

French riding holidays
Our MĂ©rens horse Mollie.

If you’re looking to ride a sure-footed, hardy, and docile horse, look no further than a Mérens.

Also known as Ariégeois ponies or Cheval de Mérens, the small horses are native to the Ariégeois and Pyrenees mountains of the south of France.

Always black, the MĂ©rens can either be a small and traditional mountain horse, or a taller, more modern horse.

They were often used for farming and as pack horses because of their superior endurance, and were traditionally taken on a summer migration higher into the mountains – a practice which is being revived in the area.

Now, MĂ©rens horses are used primarily for riding and carriage driving.

The breed standard says a MĂ©rens should have an ideal height of 14.1 to 15.1 hands and a weigh 400kg to 500kg.

Their black coats can take on a ruddy tinge in the winter and foals can be born silver-grey, black, or coffee-coloured. Their coats become black as they grow.

Some may have small, white markings on their face.

 

Thousands of years of MĂ©rens history

The MĂ©rens breed is thought to have originated in prehistoric times, either from Iberian horses or Oriental horses brought to the area by settlers coming from the east.

There are records of small black horses in the area which go back to the time of the Roman Emperor Julius Caesar.

They have been associated with famous historic figures include Charlemagne and Napoleon Bonaparte. They pulled the artillery used by Napoleon’s Grand Army in its Russian campaign.

Smugglers used these horses to haul their ill-gotten gains through the Pyrenees, they were used by miners, and at the end of the 19th Century they had become known as light cavalry horses.

Widespread cross-breeding had led to decline in the pure-bred population. So, in 1908 a local agricultural society too charge of the breed, creating a registry in 1933 and a stud book in 1948 under the control of the French National Stud.

As machines replaced horses in French agriculture, the population declined disastrously, putting the breed on the verge of extinction in the 1970s.

Then, there were just 40 pure-breed MĂ©rens horses registered with the stud book and a reported 2,000 animals of MĂ©rens descent.

 

How hippies saved the breed

Hippies looking to escape the rat race and become self-sufficient discovered the breed when they moved to the Ariège mountains.

They resettled areas which had become depopulated and brought a welcome boost to the local economy.

They also started MĂ©rens breeding programmes, just at the time there was a resurgence in interest in riding during the mid-1970s.

Many MĂ©rens horses are descended from a semi-feral horse called Bonbon who was orphaned by an accident and raised on goat milk, returning later in life to his herd in the mountains as a prize stallion.

Numbers recovered to a reported 4,000 animals in 1985 and there are 600 pure-bred horses now in the stud book. There are now around 500 births every year.

One genetic study in 2008 however, still considered the traditional MĂ©rens an at-risk breed.

The breed has become more and more popular. In fact, French magazine Cheval Pratique ranked the MĂ©rens one of the 23 most beautiful horse breeds.

There are now MĂ©rens horses registered in Italy and Belgium, and some are reported in Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany, the Czech Republic, India, and Tunisia.

In 1998, the French National Stud reclassified the MĂ©rens as horses rather than ponies.

 

Our MĂ©rens horses, half-sisters Nao and Mollie, are beautiful examples of the breed.

Both are docile and sure-footed – and ready to meet you!

Find out more about our horses here.

Are you ready to book your next French riding holiday? Book here.

 

Two Upcoming Events for Riders

Own Your Own Horse Week – 27 May

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Do you ride regularly but not actually own your own horse?  Is it your dream or are you just curious as to what’s involved?  Well for week commencing Saturday 27 May you can make that dream come true for a week.  Take this opportunity to experience horse ownership in the most ideal surroundings with the reassurance that there is a knowledgeable team on hand to help if needed. Own a horse week enables you to to be as hands on with your four legged friend as you wish to find out what it’s really like to have a horse of your own.  img_20160503_084405

 

 

 

Training Week – 16 September

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Last year’s training week was a real success and we were asked to think about another one this year.  Well we did and scheduled it in for the beginning of May – it was full almost as soon as we advertised it and there has been interest shown in another one being added.  We have looked at the diary and can now say that we will offer this for week beginning Saturday 16 September.  If you’re interested do get in touch asap.

Some people mentioned that they were a little worried by the phrase ‘Intensive Training’ as they thought it meant it was only for very experienced riders so let me put your mind at rest over this because that really isn’t the case at all.  It’s more of a usual week with the opportunity to do extra training – riding, horse care, bonding with your horse or whatever you have problems with or want to do more of.  It’s for riders of all levels – horse owners or not – and as with all of our rides it’s tailored to you.  There is the usual morning ride then as an addition in the afternoons Tanya can help you to work on any issues that you would like help with.  She will talk everything over with the whole group at the beginning of the week and work out a program that fits and can be worked on through the week.  11870817_1787696334790436_6895041293615577366_n

Meet the new guys in the team

Just to bring you up to date, we’ve been busy around the country adding new members to the team for this year.  Here goes –

Some of you will already have met our first arrival who came in September last year but for those of you who came earlier in the year meet Atila taking his first look around at his new home as he came out of the box

DSCF6578He travelled well and was very calm after his journey of around three hours.  Off to his paddock for a rest and then hopefully ready for a light workout in the school tomorrow.

DSCF6660He took it all in his stride and he and Tanya got on very well together

Love this guy-Tanya & AtilaWhat a star and Tanya’s face says ‘I just love this guy!’

He’s gone on from here and they have competed very successfully in several dressage competitions through the winter season.  He’s up and going and ready to accompany rides this summer.

Our second new arrival came just before Christmas.  Tanya and Chris set off at 5.00am with the trailer for what ended up as a 15hr trip to see a very big boy to join the team, namely a Normandy Cob.  During this epic journey they passed through the volcanic mountains of the Massif Central and here is one of the shots that Tanya took from the motorway

JpegWhen they finally got home it was too dark for photos so here he is saying good morning to Atila over the fence this morning – Tonnerre.

2It’s quite amazing what a big horse can do – here’s Chris mounted for the first time in ages and out enjoying time with Tonnerre after only a few days of getting to know him.  He’s settled in really well and is now waiting to meet you all soon.

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For number three we all set off for the day on a trip to look at several horses that we had seen.  Sun was shining and a lovely lunch followed by finally seeing a really beautiful girl.  Having ridden her and talked over Tanya and Chris set off next day yet again with trailer and when they got back Ursala had arrived.

DSCF7203Out of the trailer and looking around

DSCF7214Starting to fit in with the team working with Chloe

DSCF7319These new guys are now getting along very well with the existing team and as usual everyone is looking forward to seeing you all very soon

What’s in store for this year

We have started preparations for April 25 already and are looking forward to seeing you all this year.

New Rides – Tanya and I are out as much as possible exploring even more of the countryside around putting together some new rides and additions / variatons to existing ones.

I've been in this saddle for hours today!
I’ve been in this saddle for hours today!

The riding will be different this year as you will now be able to ride every day of the week if you want to. Of course, those of you who like a day off to take it easy can still do so whenever you please – don’t forget you are the important one here because it’s your holiday.

Other additions –
Tanya is spending quite a lot of time with the Exmoors and having drawn up a plan is now chasing Chris to build an agility course. We a very exited about this as there is quite a lot of local interest in it and if all goes according to plan we hope that some of you would maybe like to join in on the odd afternoon. The ponies appear to really enjoy it and are accepting the new challenges very well.

It's all such fun
It’s all such fun

Cross Country also in the pipeline are renovations to the cross country course which in favourable ground conditions will be available for an afternoon workshop.

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Dressage Tanya is starting to compete in dressage again attending the early competitions this year and taking two of her regular pupils with her as well. If any of you would like to take advantage of this renewed enthusiasm you can include some additional training help in your time here with us

 

Natural Horsemanship Just a reminder that Tanya has several years of training and experience in this. All of our youngstock are handled and started using natural horemanship technics.  To improve your bond with your horse while you are here – why not try a join up

 

 

Changes to the weekly programme – whereas before other than breakfast Wednesday was a non riding, lunch or dinner day  Now  there will be a ride with lunch when you return as all other days. There will not, however, be dinner  But  for anyone not wanting to go out there will be a buffet supper available

 

Continuing popular events

Relaxing massage – as usual Nadia will arrive complete with table, music and oils on Tuesday afternoon to smooth away all your aches and pains. This is not compulsory but highly recommended by anyone who has had one previously! Naturally this is included in the price of your holiday

Lunch at Monique’s – Extremely popular and after a slightly shorter ride on Thursday you will return to the chateau for a quick change and off to the restaurant for a really good local meal which is also included in your holiday price:

Soup
Entree
Main Course
Dessert / Cheese
Wine and coffee

After this return to the chateau where everyone generally disappears for a siesta somewhere shady.

Evening apperos – In the evening we all meet in the salon for a glass of wine (or an alternative of your choice) and a variety of nibbles for a very relaxed time before dinner to chat over the day, talk about anything you may want to do and generally get to know everyone. Don’t forget that for a special occasion – Birthday or Wedding Anniversay – our champagne appero makes this an extra celebration

 

Outside activities – there are many other activities to do and places to visit in easy reach of us and if you want help with any of them or general advice / directions just ask:

Cycling - there is an excellent hire shop in Limogne and he will deliver and collect the bicycles.  Both road and off road

Tour de France here we come!
Tour de France here we come!

Canoeing - several rivers not too far away with companies supplying this. Full day, half day and shorter runs available

Fishing – for any  keen fishermen who would rather fish than ride there is some of the best and most varied fishing in France in this area both lake and river. Indeed, this area currently holds the record for the largest carp caught in Europe. Here are some of the fish caught here:

Black Bass, Pike, Roach, Carp, Pikeperch, Perch, Chub, Tench, Barbeau and Rainbow Trout

a temporary  fishing license is simple to arrange and very inexpensive

Sightseeing - there are numerous towns and villages of interest within about half an hour’s drive and driving is easy here because there is very little traffic compared to the UK

Cahors is the main town of the Lot region with many old buildings, interesting little side roads to wander down, pavement cafes to sit with a coffee and watch the world go by, a weekly market and lots of excellent restaurants.Cahors_pont_Valentre_vgen[1]

Villefranche de Rouergue is an excellent example of a 12th century Bastide and is the nearest town and again a very interesting couple of hours wandering round the buildings, shops and cafes.

Najac with it’s chateau on top of the hill is a wonderful place to visit and the view from the top is umnbelievable but definitely not a climb for the faint heartedtumblr_l4dfg5J69K1qb62c4o1_500[1]

Saint Cirque Lapopie is a beautiful 12th century village just about 20 minutes drive.  It really is like stepping back in time to wander through the tiny streets and to bring you back to present time there is a very good wine museum to take a look at.  After that at the top of the hill there is a pretty good place for an ice cream!

 

I could carry on but it would become just too much to take in so you really need to come to stay with us and take a look yourself