Riding in France

“Meet the Guides” at The Riding Holiday Show – Annemee van Aubel from Cerfcheval, France

The Riding Holiday Show on 12 December 2015 is all about “Meeting the Guides” – in fact that’s what we called the event when we first ran it in 2007. It’s a chance to learn all about wonderful riding holidays all over the world, directly from the people who will be guiding you day by day. As well as an opportunity to renew friendships and chat about past experiences.

We thought it would be interesting to run a series of profiles of some of the people who will be at the Riding Holiday Show and here is another popular guide – Annemee van Aubel from Cerfcheval, France.    IMG_9312

1.    How long have you been guiding at Cerfcheval?

I started guiding here in 2001.

2.    Where did you guide before this?

I am Dutch but worked for a while in France doing different things to get some experience and to learn.

3.    How did you get into guiding? Was there someone who inspired you?

I love travelling on horseback and also showing people around. This is a very good way to really get to know a country and visit places that you would not otherwise see.

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4.    If you hadn’t become a riding guide, what was your Plan B?

I never made a plan B, but I was a sailing instructor in the past. I really enjoyed this time in my life, but I prefer the contact with the horses and my dogs that my current role provides.

5.    People coming on a riding holiday often think you have the ideal job – what do you love about it? And what are the downsides?

I love to be with my horses and to work outside, discovering new landscapes and making new friends. The difficult sides of the job are being responsible for everybody and staying positive even when the weather is bad and things are not going as you would like them to.

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6.    Can you tell us about your favourite horse?

I don’t have one favourite – I have three! I love my mule Sascha, my half Arab Oslo and my lead horse Imperial who had a difficult history before he came to Cerfcheval.

7.    What can you not live without (when guiding or just generally)?

My pocket knife and my dogs.

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8.    What has been your most memorable riding holiday week?

It is difficult to choose, but one of the most memorable was a 650km ride I undertook with my son from Cerfcheval to Lyon. Another memorable ride was with a guest who wanted to swim every day on the Monts de Blond ride. It was October and rather fresh, but I managed to find some mountain lakes for him. He would swim out quite far and I was left on the bank wondering if I’d have to jump into the really cold water to help him if he got into difficulty!

9.    How do you relax after a day in the saddle?

Apéro, (as we say in France), followed by a good meal with a glass of wine with fellow riders.

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10.    What advice would you give a 21-year-old who wants to train for your job?

It is a great job. Don’t count your hours and find yourself some good horses, as they are your best friends and need to take people around safely.

11.    Where do you go on holiday?

Often in the Pays Basque with my dogs. I don’t take holidays very often. Otherwise I just take my horse, my mule and my dogs and discover some new parts of France.

Thank you Annemee for sending some lovely images and another interesting article.

You can meet Annemee from Cerfcheval, France at the Riding Holiday Show in London on 12 December 2015. Space at the venue is limited so you must obtain a ticket in advance. The event takes place at the Royal Overseas League in SW1 just off Piccadilly from 10 am to 6 pm.

38 different riding destinations will be represented at the Riding Holiday Show. All part of the In The Saddle portfolio of worldwide riding holidays.

Categories: Equestrian Safety, Equestrian Travel, horse riding france, Horses & riding, in the saddle, Ranch holidays, Ride reviews, Riding expeditions, Riding Holidays, Riding in France, Riding safaris, The Riding Holiday Show, Travel advice, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A French Affair – Abbie tells us about her recent visit to Chateau Chazelles

Since first contact with Cathy Wainwright in October 2011 I had been keen to see Château Chazelles for myself. Quickly the ride became an In The Saddle favourite and by the middle of our first season of promoting this ride, Cathy’s horses, the accommodation and the breath-taking landscapes of the Auvergne had become almost legendary.

The beautiful landscape of the Auvergne

The beautiful landscape of the Auvergne

Leaving a rather lacklustre Spring behind in the UK, I set off in high anticipation for France. The drive from Lyon airport takes us past St Etienne and through the outskirts of Le Puy en Velay. By the time we are close to our destination, we have left the crowds of the city behind and are transported almost to another world. Quaint villages with houses made of local stone; the obligatory roses thriving in the gardens, fields are adorned with carpets of wild flowers and the sweet smell of hay fills the air.

View of the Château and Orangery

View of the Château and Orangery

We are met on arrival by Cathy and Frank and shown to our beautiful rooms. Afterwards we explore the château rather like a group of children rushing from room to room, before heading outside to meet the horses.

Harold, a handsome skewbald gelding with a delightful ‘look at me’ expression is one of the first to greet us. Grazing nearby is show Jumper Paulo, who is adjusting well to his new dual-purpose life competing with Cathy and showing guests the delights of the Auvergne. There are long-term residents Sky and Mr Zed; the latter has an illustrious past and is keen to show you what he can do! We meet cheeky Ukar, beautiful Matty, eye-catching Ricky, young horse Sugar and the two Irish gentlemen Paddy and Vincent. The horses are in great condition and are clearly cherished; you can tell this by the way that Cathy describes each one, giving not only their ages and heights but anecdotes from recent rides and their little personality traits.

Wildflowers in the background

Wildflowers in the background

There follows days of fabulous riding. Over the next few days we wind our way through the French countryside, stop for delicious picnics (brought to us by Cathy’s father Sean), and enjoy wonderful dinner parties in the evening. Each night we retire to our luxurious bedrooms. The chance of a soak in the bath is extremely welcome and the comfort of guests is never forgotten. From the supply of toiletries, to the library of books on the landing and the guest fridge bulging with refreshments of every kind, attention to detail is one Cathy’s many strengths.

A mighty cheeseboard

A mighty cheeseboard

Later in the week, a super ride through fields of vibrant cornflowers and shady forests of beech lead us to the village of Solignac. Leaving the horses in the shade, we have a delicious lunch at a local auberge (a sort of inn or tavern). Specialising in local cuisine and using ingredients sourced from the surrounding area is a hallmark of this auberge. We feast on rabbit terrine, pork in a mushroom sauce, cheese (from a vast array of local cheeses), followed by an apricot dessert.

Needless to say our ride home is rather a meandering affair as we are so full. Although there is still great excitement when we spot a family group of wild boar!

Riding along the banks of the Loire

Riding along the banks of the Loire

Another highlight was riding along forest tracks and through pretty villages to a picnic spot on the banks of the Loire. After lunch, it is a fun ride up, up, up a winding mountain road and into the hills again. We trot all the way up and the lovely Harold, so fit and willing, feels as though he would gladly take you up on the challenge if you ask him to do the climb twice over!

Abbie exploring little villages on horseback

Abbie exploring little villages on horseback

Go to Château Chazelles. Let Cathy & Frank show you and share with you their first rate horses, their beautiful château and the breath-taking scenery of this region. Before long you will feel as though you are staying with friends and want to return again and again as I do.

Categories: Equestrian Travel, Horses & riding, Ride reviews, Riding Holidays, Riding in France, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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