domenica 22 marzo 2015

Trail riding in Maremma Tuscany

The “River Ride” is the ultimate full-day trail ride at our Trail Riding Center Prategiano.  Today, I had the pleasure of guiding our new friend and two-week guest, Bianca, to the River Merse for the first time this season.  The first time is always a bit exciting as no one knows what awaits after a winter of weather and change; plus, springtime means water, high water.  Nonetheless, Miss Bianca was bubbling with excitement at the prospect of this adventure.

What a perfect spring day with the sun shining, a cool breeze, and maybe a cloud or two. We set out for the village of Montieri, passing through the southern edge of the small town and then headed down the gravel road lined with quaint farmhouses, horses, and gardens.  Entering the woods, we continued following the downward slope of the mountain, heading toward the Merse Valley.  At the bottom, we crossed into open fields brimming with wildflowers and young grass.  Gallop time!  Nothing beats the adrenaline rush of a free run through open green. The horses gave their jumps of approval and riders let out a whoop whoop!

When we arrived to the river I was glad to be riding one of our taller horses.  In the spring, the water is rushing and fills the banks, but with a sense of adventure we crossed the waters like pioneers.  What fun!  The river touched the horses’ bellies and they put down their noses for a cool drink.  At the picnic site on the riverbank, chef Emilio cooked up some wonderful steaks on the fire, and we sat down to a full- course lunch.  After, a short car ride took us to the Abby of San Galgano, an ancient cathedral with an interesting history.  After a look around and a coffee at the bar, we headed back, saddled the horses, and set off up the mountain.  This part of the ride is one of my favorite times horseback riding in Tuscany.  The stillness and light of the late afternoon in Tuscany is spectacular. Winding up past the familiar hillside homes, waving to friends outside in the evening, and returning on horseback to the quiet of the farm is something truly special.

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