|First poppies spotted this year|
As my adventures made an unexpected turn during my kayak course, I still yearned for the adrenaline that was somewhere in store for me. I decided to head to Cislău Stud Farm. And as my GPS got me to the wrong place, it was Sunday morning and I had no other means to get to my destination (my boyfriend had left to kayak), I started walking. About 6 km. Have you seen ‘Mr. Bean’s Holiday’? That’s how I felt… with the poppies along the road, the intoxicating smell of early summer, and the mellow heat of that morning.
People met along the way would stop and kindly give me directions. I was told that I’d find a sign on the right side of the road, but a sign on the left followed and I got confused. I started walking on the dusty path and met about three carts filled with hay while the eyes of the men riding in them were wondering if I was lost or not. At one point, I greeted two of the guys; they stopped the cart and confirmed that the farm was on the other side of the road and that they were heading there, so they invited me to ride along. [I admit that this had been one of my childhood wishes and it finally got true when I found myself on top of that pile of hay. It felt timeless and real; I’ll never forget it.] It gave me the chance to find out more about the farm – that it was one of the last state-owned farms in Romania (the only English purebred one), that the money wasn’t much, that – sadly – there were only a handful of horse breakers left and that the young generation was not interested in this profession.
…which I find amazing. The love that these men have for their horses inspires you. Viorel greeted me and we were off to a great start when he began teaching me tricks related to horses and to the riding equipment that nobody before him had. I was going to ride a beautiful 3-year old mare called ‘Duchess’. It was my first time ever riding a mare, so I was pretty excited, especially because he kept telling me that these were horses appreciated for their speed. My Duchess seemed extremely docile (although Viorel told me that it was only the first impression). ‘Mmm… sounds just like me! Easy to start things off with, difficult to handle.’ But we managed just fine riding on the beautiful nearby hills, where classic Romanian movies (like ‘Iancu Jianu’) were shot, where roe deer roam free (we even spotted one), and where the view is a reward in itself.
I felt happy, a step closer to getting to know these wonderful animals I love and admire so much! ‘Let me tell you what I thought of you at first’, Viorel added. ‘I liked that you told me that you’ve ridden before, but that you still had so many things to learn.’ And I feel that I did learn a lot and that he was an excellent teacher and I recommend with all of my heart a visit to this farm and some quality riding time spent there.
I left to wait for my friends and took another dusty path, but I was soon pleasantly surprised when a car stopped right beside me – it was Viorel, going to buy cigarettes and kindly giving me a ride to the closest restaurant. It felt good.
And I sat there, savouring my pancakes, having some time with myself, thinking back to one of the most beautiful rides of my life, to the great compatibility I had with Duchess and with this particular horse breed, and envisioning my return.
© Olivia-Petra Coman | Text, pictures, and video