month on the road, and Magali is in Italy.
are some extracts from her journal, edited and translated from the French by
"6 August. I spend the morning scraping Aramis’s pack and putting felt wedges on it, so as to improve its contact with the mule’s back. This evening, when I see what improvements have been made, I’ll fine-tune the results. Taking off at midday, I ride along a superb road. A stiff climb, a difficult descent, and here I am at Dieulefit. But where am I to sleep?
cross the town on the main road – the mule in one hand, the horse in another,
and my nose in the map… when a
car stopped. “You’re not that
horsewoman riding around the world, are you?”
“No, I’m going to China.” “Oh
yes. I read about you in the newspaper, come to my place, I’ve got feed, a
park and water for the horses.”
was more than that: a park, feed,
shelter and a mattress to sleep on, supper, breakfast and a lot of kindness…
everyone around put themselves out to welcome me.
The altitude dropped 3,000 feet in
one stretch – these are real mountains. The
horse is tireless. I
must have climbed more than 2,000 feet while still in the saddle, and I didn’t
feel guilty because he was so keen. The
mule tries to follow and, while climbing, I have to hold the horse back.
After climbing, the descent…
Good weather at last. Finally
I can pack away a dry tent. The
countryside sparkles, I can hear a church bell, dogs bark, a donkey brays, and
far off I can hear some cars. After
a large breakfast, I repair the pack – the ropes which hold the padding in
place had loosened – then I break camp and take the road for Lus la Croix
am astonished at the way the horses manage to follow a small track, struggling
upwards towards the Lus Pass on a narrow, stony river-bed, and over the period
of an hour Cysko and Aramis discover the difficulties of travelling in the
mountains – and learn rapidly. OK,
it’s time to find a good track, as the effort of concentrating is tiring for
us all. A forest trail leads us to
the Pavier farm, 5,000 feet up. This
was a working farm until about 20 years ago, and is now open to travellers, with
lots of grass and perfectly ripe cherries at this time of the year.
equines behaved so well during the hard climb that I rather overestimated their
abilities. We set off among some
rocky slabs, sliding down the 45 degree slope.
We had to get down a six-foot drop to get across the river.
The horse fell, but did not hurt himself. Before I could stop her, the mule went too, too sure of
herself. She too fell, and wounded
herself on the thigh, just enough to make her limp. I carried on, only to find the path totally blocked by a tree
– I had to return to the river. I
tied the horse up so as to lead the mule across.
He got excited, tore away from the tree to which he was tied, and fell
down onto his back six feet down in a ravine.
He was more afraid than hurt – suddenly he was well-behaved… for half
No problems today. I
followed the Drac river as far as Orcičres,
then attacked the mountain, firstly among the trees and then beneath the ski
lifts. The mule is still a bit
obstinate, but she’s better. We
slept, as planned, 6,000 feet up. The
view over the mountains is spectacular.
It is 8 p.m., the sky is blue, the horses are eating, and I am in the tent writing my notes. I sip appreciatively the tea I had made with such care. The sun is going to bed, and so am I."
The Long Riders' Guild had not heard from Magali for a while, but recently received the following message from her support team, who went out to join Magali for the New Year.
Magali’s support team, have just returned from Slovenia where we spent a few
days with her.
is at the top of her form, sparkling with hope and in perfect health, she has
even succeeded in putting on a few pounds, which she blames on Italian cooking!
As for her morale, it is as lofty as the Slovenian mountains – very
high! Regardless of rain, cold,
snow, growling bears, howling wolves, the journey will continue, there is no
question of turning back.
found the horses in excellent form too. Cysko
has really changed, he is slimmer (I hasten to add he has only lost some
superficial fat, and there was some to spare) and has become very muscular,
although not quite the Silvester Stalone of the Balkans, I’m glad to say,
although he seems to be wider in the chest!
for the mule, she is much less wild – she will even allow her owner (but only
her owner, I can confirm this!) to scratch her ears – and is a willing
creature. In short, Magali is very
pleased with her.
pack is now working well (the balance of the weight and an end to sores) and so
Magali does not have to worry about that. The
mule is carrying 70 kilos (about 140 pounds), which is the weight Magali
considers to be the maximum in view of the size of the animal and the work she
is expected to do, particularly in the mountains.
had a wonderful week with Magali in a magnificent country:
mountains, fir trees, lakes and rivers, limestone rocks, chasms and
grottos, to say nothing of the wildlife, which is numerous and varied (even
bears, which we were aware of around our campsite;
luckily the Slovenian bears seem quite gentle…).
Our welcome was extraordinary, too, as we were put up by a Slovenian
horse association, Lovenc, who are horse-lovers and fans of the Far West!
The president really put himself out for us – he not only opened up his
house to us but also took us around to see the region – wonderful!
We saw in the New Year with our hosts in the “Saloon” in an amazing
cowboy atmosphere, which was also a time of relaxation and exchanges….in spite
of our respective limitations in the English language!
short, everything is going well! We
have all had our batteries recharged, having come back with some new articles
about Magali Pavin’s fabulous journey!
Aurore, Terres et Cultures"
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