A friend of mine on twitter mentioned how she had had a riding lesson on an Arab and how different she found it to riding other horses. Arabs certainly are a unique breed, as they all are, and I remember an experience I had with some Arabs in Italy in 2010.
In the summer of 2010 we went on a family holiday to Italy, firstly spending a few days doing cities: with a night or two in each one. After a week of cities we joined up with another family and stayed in a villa in the mountains near Castelnuovo di Garfagnana. It was high up in the mountains and to get there we had to go up a narrow, winding road with the hillside stretching high about us on the right and a shear drop to the left. In some places there was barely even a road as a recent landslide had made sure that we weren’t going to get there easily. We were starting to wish we’d gone for a cheaper hire car…
On arrival we drove past a barn, owned by the man who owned the villa, and a patchy, sandy field with three gorgeous Arabs in it. The came over for cuddles before returning to munch the hay put out for them. The owner of the villas would take them on rides around the mountains, lasting 8 hours sometimes, having lunch and breaks at locations along the way.
One day we returned from a day out to find the Arabs grazing around to pool. Okay, unusual, but there was a lot of grass down there and hardly any in their paddock, so maybe they were meant to be there? A while later we heard a strange noise coming from the top of the hill, where the barn and paddock was. There was a steep drop next to the paddock down to our villa, I certainly wouldn’t want to climb down it. In fact, it was almost a cliff. On closer inspection we found the owner of the horses stood next to the paddock with the gate open, looking quite worried, and hollering into the surrounding hillside. Understanding his concern, we pointed him in the direction of his escaped horses, expecting him to run/scramble down the track or cliff to fetch them.
But instead, he changed his tune. He stopped hollering and let out and almighty whistle. Something stirred by the pool – a grey Arab lifted its head. A chestnut mare lifted a sleepy foot. Then, all of a sudden, the three Arabs went like race horses from the starting box. Straight towards the cliff. Having spent a good bit of time around horses I expected them to get to the bottom of the cliff, look confused, and then either run round in circles or head for the track back up to the paddock.
Did they ‘eck! The three Arabs picked up speed as they neared the bottom of the cliff, and with a leap, cantered straight up the side! Not one slipped or lost their footing. Never in my life have I seen anything like it!! The cliff must have been at least as tall as a house!