France Day 7 – Saumur

In the morning, we went on a 2-hour long ride in the countryside on more ponies. We had different ponies this time, though still with ill-fitting tack. This time, it gave me cuts on my legs. I chatted up a young girl who flattered me by telling me that my French was good. She was very cool because she was young, lived in Dubai, and spoke multiple languages.

The afternoon was our special field trip to Le Cadre Noir, which is the national riding school of France. It used to be strictly military, but now it is mostly civilian. Our travel company told us to just show up between certain hours, so we did. Unfortunately they were terribly mistaken. There were specific times for each of the tours, and each tour had a different language. It was a good thing we got there fairly early, because if we had arrived much later, we would not have been able to have a tour at all. We had to leave and come back at the specific time, bu at least we got the tour.

I had extremely high expectations of these stables. Although it was interesting, I was expecting a lot more. I was expecting to see fancy people practicing fancy moves on fancy horses. Unfortunately, because it was vacation time in France, most of the horses were gone. The place holds 600 or so horses, and there were maybe 50 there?

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Outdoor arena

I think what I was probably expecting was a super fancy castle-barn. Pretty sure only billionaires have those. One day I will be a billionaire and have one too.

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Crazy stall with automatic waterers and automatic feeders

I want automated stuff too. Or staff. Lots of staff. Competent staff that will be happy because I am kind and generous.

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Finally a real horse!

And lots of horses that will get spoiled by lots of people because I will run a program to help underprivileged peoples experience the awesomeness that is horses. And rescue horses. And working horses. I may be dreaming, but dreams do come true!

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Grooms’ alley. The thing in the middle is a conveyer. When they clean the stalls, they just shovel it straight on there and off it goes. Sure beats having to wheel it around!

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Where the conveyer belt goes!

And it will be a sustainable castle-farm-barn with lots of organic agriculture and bio-gas and compost and what have you. It will be the most awesome place ever! Ok, enough of what I will do in the future, and more about my actual experiences in France.

DSC_0457Part of the tour showed us the old tack they used with the horses. They have since modified the tack because it used to be extremely heavy. The saddles weighed 60 lbs or something.

Then they took us into the indoor arena where we hoped to see someone practicing. No photography would have been allowed if someone was practicing, so the following picture is disappointing.

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Indoor arena

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Painting of horses!

I am pretty much drawn to anything with horses. I can’t help it.

Upon leaving, I saw this beautiful parking job. No. No! NO! No excuse for that. I don’t care how empty the parking lot is. There is no excuse for this laziness poking my pet peeve.

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Never an excuse for bad parking.

Afterwards, we tried to find dinner, and all the restaurants told us they were full for the rest of the evening, despite being half empty. France’s definition of full, and my definition of full are completely different. My traveling companion said that maybe they were short staffed. I don’t see how that would affect the entire night of dining at multiple restaurants, but ok. We finally did find a place, but I wasn’t a fan of the food, and spent most of the time feeding it to the stray kitties. We even saved some food and came back later in the night to give it to the kitties, who were forever grateful.

DSC_0464Tontons was one of those places that refused us entry. The name always makes me laugh because “tonto” means silly/stupid in Spanish, and I hated my Tom Tom (GPS) so I would say my Tom Tom was Tonton. And in my head it all makes sense. I’m really tired, so if this is all over the place… too bad.

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