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Horse Riding in the French Dordogne


Holiday company: Dordgogne Riding
By Jo Stanford (editor of www.findaridingholiday.com)

As my taxi draws up to Le Bourdil Blanc, I draw a breath... the 18th century farmhouse is stunning. From the moment I arrive, the open-house atmosphere and tranquil surroundings puts me at ease. My host, Jane Hanslip of Dordogne Riding has put together an excellent riding holiday package. Days full of long, exciting rides are followed by evenings in entertaining company feasting on home-cooked food.

pic of Camargue horses group photo pic of Chateau La Gaubertie
Le Bourdil Blanc; our group leaving the grounds of a chateau; La Gaubertie.

Bright and early Sunday morning we are carefully matched to our horses and by the afternoon, we are already experiencing the peaceful atmosphere of off-road rural Dordogne. The area is enchanting with its ancient chateaux tantalisingly half-hidden by trees, its forests and meadows, picturesque sleepy villages and quiet, rolling farmland.

A Private View
Jane has negotiated riding routes with chateau owners so we are honoured with a private view of this idyllic part of France. Throughout the next week we cover between 15 and 25km a day. The horses are forward going, responsive and clearly happy in their work. There is none of the nose-to-tail trekking I have experienced before. Lunch has become the highlight of the day. Twice we arrive in the stunning grounds of a chateau and I feel almost regal enjoying a gourmet picnic in such elegant surroundings. Considering the distance travelled and the often fast pace, we all cope admirably. Chef Bernadette keeps our energy levels up with mouth-watering three-course meals every evening.

On our midweek non-riding day I team up with some other guests who have hired a car. After a bargain-hunt in the market at Bergerac, we visit Beynac with its cliff-top chateau and beautiful river views. Then itís on to medieval Sarlat. When the end of the week comes itís hard to leave the house that has become home and Genese, the pretty chestnut mare who feels like my own. But, Janeís true secret to success is realising that the key to the English heart is providing top tucker... Bernadette will be missed most of all!

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