This was our first long day outing. We left home at 10 in the morning and returned around 4 in the afternoon. The day was cold but sunny with a bright blue sky and fluffy snow white clouds. We invited the neighbor to come along so there were four of us. I brought pumpkin soup and a vegetable tart, cake and coffee for dessert. Jean François brought grapes from his vines. Of course there were carrots for Vanille and we carried hay just in case there was not grass at our rest stop. It's mostly a steady gradual uphill climb to the nearest village, slightly more than 8 KM. Just before the village there is a winding downhill slope of 2.5 KM. We went through the village and stopped at a quiet picnic area. This was a day filled with firsts! For the first time we set up an enclosure for Vanille with electric fence tape (no electricity), just a single ribbon wound around nearby trees and plastic fence posts. We unhitched her and she kept her head down in the green grass. There were two horses in a pasture close by who came to talk with her and a van with mother and daughter and their two horses who arrived. Vanille was interested to see other horses but she remained her wonderful calm self. She showed no sign of exhaustion! We had done the trip at a walk except for a short downhill run at a slow trot. She walks at 4 to 4.5 KM hour. She was calm and unflappable along the road. At our supposedly quiet picnic area, a big bus arrived and out stepped a group of men from the French Foreign Legion dressed in camouflage. That was a surprise!

Our little campstove was great for heating the soup and making coffee. There was a picnic table under the trees. A few people came to have their photos taken with Vanille and a couple of military men came over to chat. After lunch we cleared up, washing dishes in the spring. We harnessed up Vanille and headed off through the village. She was ready to go!! We stopped once at a level pulloff on the winding uphill climb to make sure she was not tiring. This was the first time she had done such a long uphill climb and the first time for such a long trip. She is an amazingly generous horse. The men always get out and walk on the uphill climbs to lighten her load. We always douse her with cold water halfway and again when she is unharnessed at home. We also verify that she has no swellings where the collar fits nor any problems with legs or feet following a long trip. I watch carefully how she is walking and acting for a few days following a trip.

I reflected on the fact that it took us most of a day to travel 18 KM. In a car we would have done this distance in minutes. I thought about a time when cars didn't exist, villages would have been the center of most people's lives. I wish life would return to the villages some day. The village that we were traveling through has been sleeping for some years but it is now coming alive with new people buying some of the old stone houses, painting shutters bright colors and lifting the greyness that once prevailed. Flowers are sitting on windowsills, shutters are open showing windows decorated with lace curtains and the small café is once again open with people sitting under the ancient trees.


I am so very proud of Vanille. Once she understands what is expected of her, she is eager and willing to do her best. She is always alert and interested in everything, but calm. A simple white ribbon keeps her in an enclosure, she comes when called, lifts her dainty feet when asked and is just a loving and beautiful animal. We adore her!

The Duplo composite shoes seem to be excellent. So far we have no complaints.

I just want to live the remainder of my life like this. Walking, quiet, slow, talking to people along the way, dining under trees, hugging my love and hugging my horse!



About Suzanne

American living in France. Artist and lover of nature, gardening, all living beings. Married to the love of my life, mother of two wonderful daughters and grandmother.
This entry was posted in Art, barefoot draft horse, Community, Comtois horse, Gypsy wagon/Roulotte construction technique, Horse drawn vehicles, Lifestyle, Roulotte, Small living spaces, Travel, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to 18 KM DAY

  1. lesarbes says:

    I just want to live the remainder of my life like this. Walking, quiet, slow, talking to people along the way, dining under trees, hugging my love and hugging my horse!
    What else is there to say? May it continue forever and a day.

  2. N2 says:

    Love this account of your longest voyage so fare with Toti and Vanille. You are good to her and she appreciates that and responds in kind. She is such a steady, patient horse. And who knew that Arfons is so lively! I’ll have to make it up there one day. My trip in Toti with you all still resonates. Thanks again. Bisous, N2

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