05 January, 2009

An afternoon in Pompignan.

A pair of Icelanders.
The other day, we ran into friends we haven't seen in a long time. As usual, they invited us to their stables. It's the sort of invitation that, while very appealing, has always been over-ridden by whatever else was already going on. This time, warming ourselves with coffee at our usual cafe before hitting the frigid marche, we had nothing further planned. For once. So we accepted the invitation with pleasure and anticipation.
A Lusitano stallion, au naturel.

I've no idea why, but we've never been to the area of Pompignan before. It is certainly visit-worthy. It is beautiful and wild and wide, ringed on three sides by a gorgeous mountain range. Thyme, sarriette, box hedge and juniper are found everywhere. Hard to imagine, but before tanneries and glass-making became the primary 17th and 18th century industries, this wind-swept plateau was a dense forest. The one industry still active is quarrying, for Pierre de Pompignan, a limestone valued since Roman times.
Dakar had to be on a lead, but we chose a box stall for him instead.
Britta and Claude have over 40 horses scattered across some 220 hectares, and it was easy to see why we haven't seen them: they're far too busy. Britta is doing quite well in her immaculate, well-designed operation, as word of mouth has spread about her natural, gentle way to raise, train and educate horses (and their owners). In addition to boarding on a selective basis, they handle "problem" horses one-on-one, and provide full breeding services for Lusitanian horses. Britta has an extraordinary patience with horses, investing an enormous amount of time in them, and the operation is her life, as she freely admits. We had fun visiting with the horses and exploring her life. If you would like to know more about the stables, go to their website: http://www.lesugagnaux.com/. I, for one, would like to know more about the song playing on it...
Sophie communing with the unofficial mascot, an award-winning, very friendly Percheron named Oscar. Note the horse in the stall next to his is a "normal" sized, adult horse.

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