Sun and showers


photo Mark Balogh

We`re continuing our weekly “get fit rides” with Vanille. As you can see, Bella brings her sticks with her. We don`t always let her come along as she still gets too close to the wheels and makes me nervous. I love the trips with the caleche. It is relaxing, but if I must watch Bella every moment, it is difficult to enjoy the moment. As she grows into adulthood, she becomes wiser and wiser but she is a Border Collie and thinks she knows best. I don't want an accident to prove to her that she doesn't.

So far our longest weekly outing has been 14 km. Vanille has been barefoot with the exception of our last trip, 14 km, when we put her Easy boots on her front feet. Jean François examines her feet weekly and trims them regularly. I keep a daily check on her as always; feet, legs, and general overall condition. We are studying everything we can find on the care and trimming of barefoot horses. If you are experienced with a barefoot draft horse, please share your experience with us. (

Vanille did an amazing stunt last week. She managed to put one front foot over the fence of her pasture. The fence is chest high and there was no evidence that she had pushed it down. When I went out to check on her, she was just calmly standing there. I had to approach quite close to see that she was in trouble. I still have no idea how she managed to get that foot over the fence! I unlatched the fence, stomped down on the wire and stood on it close to her foot. I asked her to give me her foot which she did. I calmly lifted it and asked her to back up just a little which she did. I was able to place the foot on the inside of the fence with no trouble. She stayed totally calm through the whole maneuver. The fence is not barbed wire but it is what we call here sheep fencing. It is wire squares but not big enough squares for a horse to catch a hoof in. This all occurred because the grass looked greener on the other side of the fence! I am very happy that she trusts me enough to allow me the time it took to help her. I did a lot of deep breathing and she watched carefully with her nose close to my maneuvers.

Tòti Bleu is parked in Vanille's afternoon pasture. It is still covered with a tarp but I can pull it back enough to spend time inside. We have attached the doors but there is some adjusting to do before they will close properly. We now have a bed for Bella and a small heater that sits on the campstove burner. In May Tòti will be moved into the big hay barn and work will begin on fiberglassing the roof, painting the seats and trim, attaching the sunflower gussets and placing the side windows and shutters. I'm hoping we will take a long trip in the early autumn. Meanwhile I am enjoying short siestas in Tòti when the weather permits. I can hear Vanille munching nearby, Bella running around, and just languishing in the silence of the place. It feels much like a boat when the wind blows. There is a gentle rocking that I love.









There is a wonderful video on youtube: Bridleless in Norco

AND soon to be available, an absolutely beautiful book with text in Spanish, Dutch, French and English:


You can contact André and Judith for a copy at:

I am always happy to receive comments or emails from readers of this blog. You can contact me at



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, attelage, barefoot draft horse, Community, Comtois horse, Gypsy wagon/Roulotte construction technique, Horse drawn vehicles, Roulotte, Small living spaces, Travel, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Sun and showers

  1. hilarie10 says:

    Suzanne, I just found your blog (by following the breadcrumb trail on Barbara Roth’s). I am sitting here utterly and completely charmed…

  2. N2 says:

    Glad you are getting some cozy time in Toti. I’m coming soon to a village near you and will give you a ring for some tea time and catching up. x0 N2

  3. I can just picture Vanille. She was very grateful for your help no doubt! Hugs to you all. 😉

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