Horseback Riding in the Loire, France

Last year I went riding in the Loire region of France with my twin seventeen year old daughters Emily and Francis and my grown up son Kevin. My wife is unfortunately not a horse lover and so she stayed at home in Nebraska with our dog, Chodwallander.

We booked a two week vacation riding between the famous chateaux of the Loire - Amboise, Villandry, Chenanceau, Brioche, etc. The idea was that we would spend between four and six hours a day in the saddle but would stop to eat fantastic meals and to visit the chateaux.

The horses, itinerary and guide were provided for us by Loire Equitation SARL - a company based in the town of La Fleche (Sarthe - Department 72). I had a 17hh grey gelding, French saddleback, called Fennelwick (which was an odd name for a French horse), Emily had a 15hh chestnut mare, thoroughbred cross called Java, Francis a similar sized bay mare called Esmerelda and Kevin had a huge gelding Pecheron - a sort of shire horse.

We were picked up at Tours airport by our guide, Jean-Pierre Baptiste, having flown in from Paris. Jean-Pierre had organised every detail of our trip from a delightful welcome glass of champagne to stabling, tack, tours, dinners and the suchlike. No detail had been left to chance. We even had the opportunity to try hot-air balooning along the Loire river. And as much aa I love horse-riding I shall never forget the site of the river at sunset from up in the sky.

Overall the riding was not challenging but the scenery was beautiful beyond compare. We had a chance to visit the Cadre Noire in Saumur which is, for any horse lover, an absolute must.

The price of the vacation was pretty expensive (around $10k for the four of us for two weeks including flights). However, the sights and smells of the Loire were so compelling that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this vacation to any horse lover looking to expand their horizons.

This was a truly memorable experience and I hope that I might have an opportunity to do it again in my lifetime. I know that Emily, Francis and Kevin are all of similar mind.

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