Corse by horse 2010

This is a story about a trip to Corse the summer 2010.

The French organisation UCPA offers different vacation opportunities all over the world. I joined a trip to Corse where the theme was horse riding. This can be done as day trips or as a randonee. I choose the later.

I decided to do my own journey from Sweden. After landing in Nice I took the boat to Bastia in the northern part of the Island.

The harbour of Nice from the ferry.

From Bastia I took a train to Corte in the centre of the Island the next day.

Corse has a net of railroads and they work very well as a transportation. Its cheap too.

The place with the horses is located just outside of Corte. You can walk from the train station. Its nicely situated on a hillside. Corte lays in a sort of a bowl between the mountains. Therefor it can be very warm in summertime.

This is a view from the centre. The Dormitory for the horse riders combined with a stable is the building to the left.

I was two days early to the start of my activity so I did a bit of bathing and hike in the mountains these days. Corte is a beautiful town with lots of ancient scenery. Its easy to find nice restaurants. The local food is really worth testing comprising good nutrition and rich taste.

This course comprise three different parts from the inside of the calves belly. The course can also be found on the mainland France and is called tripes. I think this was a local variety on the basic recipe. Some pieces can be a bit chewy but really has a nice taste. The local wine was superb.

The citadel and the museum is worth wile a visit.

A painting by the Dane Skredsvig. Made about 1900.

The citadel. The view from inside is extravagant.

Right from town there is entrance to two beautiful valleys; the Restonica and the Tavignano.

The Restonica was considered a nature reserve in 1966. You can walk inside the valleys. There is rivers and the water this time of year is really warm.

Here I am bathing in the Tavignano valley.

A nice thing with the centre is that it also is a camping. Therefor many people come for a visit. Most of them for a walk in the mountains. There is also the opportunity to go for a horse ride just one day or a half.

One day this couple showed up. The guy being the son of Robin Gray, a famous sports comment in horse racing on TV.

William Gray with his girlfriend.

The son was much into mountain bike and down hill skiing.

So now there was time to start with the horse riding. Jean, the owner of the centre went to pick up all the girls at the airport. Yes, the rest of the gang were all girls.

Day 1, Monday. The day started with Jean finishing some work on a couple of horses hooves. Somewhere an hour before midday we were finished packing and so on.

And so we were started. Here is the first stop having a small lunch. Isabelle, the house maid at the centre always made beautiful baguettes for us. We brought the food with us in our saddle bags. New fresh food was sent to us every day together with our luggage, sleeping bags etc on a truck. So here is most of the group, me behind the camera the leader Marianne and one girl missing.

My horse sleeping this first day. Not so tired Yet.

This first day was warm. But it showed out not to be the warmest. The scenery is in great parts of Corse dominated by mountains.

Our horses having a drink in a small river. The water was fresh and we could fill our water bottles too.

The first day we arrived at a camping. We and the horses were placed just outside the camping under some trees. Here we could visit the WC and have a shower. First thing to take of the saddles, after that we gave the horses water from a hose. Then they had some food, Hey and granules.

Only after this we could set up our tents and mount the table, everything brought to us on a small wagon. (A car met up with us at the camping site).

 

Here we sit after the dinner listening to Marianne, our leader.

 Day 2.

Close after the start there was a crossing of a river, pretty large actually. And for some reason one of the girls was swept off her horse by a branch. This tree standing close to the far shore had some nice blades so the horses were actually drawn to it. She did a plunge into the water.

 

After the plunge: wet trousers.

We climbed a mountain, beautiful route and had a real nice lunch in the shadow of some trees. Just above a small village listening to the motos and children.  After that we walked through the village:

Walking

Soon there followed a real nice river where we could bath. This was a bathing place for many others. A bridge closing its gap over us. Here I bought some Ice-cream in a nearby bar. It was real nice. After a long swim we entered our horses again.

 

After a nice but not to hard journey we ended up in a site not a camping. Here we met Mariannes family and they had a chat.

Day 3: The next morning Alexandra changed saddle and there was some more interchange of gear.

Claire and Alexandra changing some gear.

We started climbing a huge mountain. Even though the landscape could be quite nice. Soon we would be able to see the sea.

A climb in a nice landscape.

Further upward. Picture by Christelle. Click on picture for higher resolution.

After a long journey with a real tuff finish through desert like areas with lots of thorn we arrived at the sea.

 

Helene and Kimberly preparing for dinner.

This evening we went down to the beach for a bath and a swim. The water was really warm, maybe 27 deg or something.

There was a small river to, close to the camping so we could wash off the salt. Where we had settled down the grass was real green and fresh so we let half of the horses go free eating. The other half tied to different trees. This trick work as horses are animals used to live in herds. Therefor the free horses wont run too long leaving the tied horses. Well, thinking of other things like were to put wet bathing clothes and so on there suddenly was a fast move. Five horses came running in full gallop towards the camping area. You know house father just pouring the wine at the family dinner… and there is like five horses coming. Well, the first horse eventually did notice that there were obstacles in their way, like house wagons and so on. So she stopped with a sudden brake her hooves locked making a perfect wound in the grass. Everything went back to normal. The reason? One of the tied horses had broken the branch he was tied to. Then started running. He actually had great interest in one of the female horses.

Day 4.

Now we were heading for the dessert of the Agriates. This area is some sort of mountains and hills sloping down into the mediterian. There is not much water so there is no trees. We followed the coast line. Between cliffs there are some wonderful beaches.

Dusty and warm. After this….

Then there was this.

We had a lunch and a real nice bath. There were also many sailing vessels close to the beach and we swam out looking at them. I think here the water was even warmer. The horses stayed up the cliffs under some trees.

In the afternoon we made more transversing along the coast line. Some parts we had to walk the trail being to close to the steep to sit on the horses. Now we were heading for a big beach were we could gallop in the next morning.

Trees do serve well for drying clothes.

Day 5: Galloping the beach.

We are walking out the beach. Halfway we’ll make a big turn and start galloping back.

No there is no picture from the gallop. You simply have to use your hand clinging to the horse. As you may see from the picture above some use a saddle some not. I did not. This is more challenging. These horses with a lot of Arabic blood are real competitive. Once started gallop they will race against each other. My horse running real fast. I was close to Helene with her at the outside. As she felt being pushed out in the water she moved to the inside. Then there was a big tree lying across the shore line. We jumped. But now I was loosing my balance. So after some meters I was falling off. The horse turning to the left. Hanging around its neck I had to stop. Or the horse stopped. I had may camera in the front pocket of my jacket. I didn’t dare to keep the jacket if I would fall off in the water. So I gave the jacket to a couple sitting at the beach. Now my horse trembling in urge to get away. Up again and there we were off. Now the horse running at the shore line. She was running slalom as the waves did come up in the sand. Actually this made it impossible to follow her movements even though clinging to her mane. So I fell off again. She may have thought you stupid. But she still waited so I could go up again. She started off furiously but continued to make slalom turns along the waves. Of course I was off a third time. This time we were close to the others gathering at the end of the beach so she didn’t stop for me running toward the other horses. I had to walk shouting at her.

Well this was real nice.

Now there was time for a bath.

Some of the horses did not like walking far out in the water. There was a lot of convincing.

Marianne, our leader, to the left. Christel on her horse.

I like this picture very much. It was taken by Helene. Some horses actually liked the bathing, especially where it wasn’t too deep. After bathing in the water there was some sand bathing too. Horses really like rolling in the sand.

After the bath we took the horses back to the camping. They had something to eat and we were resting a bit. In the afternoon we would proceed to the town Saint Florent where we would find our last camping.

Here we are at the last camp meeting some other horses.

At the last camping we could bath in a pool. Something really welcome after a hard day. The horses this day could stay free in a fenced area. I think I slept just knocked this night. The temperature being a little lower.

Day 6: My camera didn’t work this day. It simply was out of battery. But I can say that after some trottering and gallop in a nice inland area we climbed a real huge mountain. We ended up at 1300m above sea level. Here we hoped to se wild horses and we actually did. There were two groups. Each guarded by their own stallion. We shouting and whistling at them. Real proud they stood there. The landscape was just marvellous. At this height the temperature a little lower and the air clean with good visibility. Maybe this was the nicest day of them all. Here is two pictures taken by Valerie?

Wild horses. Stallion to the right.

A great feeling being here.

 

Film sequence. Here is a film sequence from the trip.

 

Finish.

So there we were "home" again. Everybody in pretty fine shape and no big injuries! Tired of course but in a nice way.

Here we are sitting listening to Jean after dinner. (Kimberleys photo).

We found out that our horses had some different personalities. This picture was drawn by Helene:

Our horses.

Marianne you already met but I have to present two more of the persons who made this trip possible.

There is the owner of the place and stable Jean Pulicani. A skilled horse keeper who can change shoes on horses. And also racing with horses.

Jean at his breakfast.

Jeans daughter Andrea also racing. Doing long distance racing- 120-160 km and alike.

And there is also the important house maid Isabelle. She made all the cooking and the food was just delicious. With three course dinners every evening and also cheese upon that. Also making wonderful baguettes for lunch.

Isabelle.

And not to forget the dog belonging to Isabelle:

More information here.

So thank you for reading.

 

Jacob

 

 

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