Category Archives: Horses

Life in Images: First real snow. (Where are those little spring birdies now?)

{7:30 a.m.}

Did I say there were little birdies chirping outside my window last week? This morning I woke to Winter’s second wind! As is often typical in Kentucky, it ain’t over till it’s over.

{Dad and Reve}

{School is not out.}

{The daffodils thought it was spring too. I rescued them when it started snowing last night.}



Filed under Home, Horses, Kentucky

Big horses, cautious toes, and what it means to be à cheval

A cheval. On horseback.

On the edge of the pasture, saddle in one hand and frayed cotton rope attached to horse in the other, I position myself to hoist the former onto the latter’s back. My feet are planted deliberately between the front and back hooves of the giant draft so that, in plunking the saddle down I resemble a yogi stretching from the core, reaching toward the horizon as I leave my lower half firmly planted out of harm’s way.

I’ve been stepped on before, but not by the likes of these horses, who not only might unintentionally do serious damage, but could also be quite long in budging a gigantic hoof if ever one were to break out in hysterics under the pressure of a ton of horseflesh. It’s a double-edged sword with Satine’s breed: more docile and gentle than the lightest and flightiest Thoroughbred, these horses are incredibly massive and powerful. I have one toenail that grows oddly because of a run in (or run-over?) with a Thoroughbred. If the same happened with Satine, I might not have a toe at all.

So, I mind my distance. As I struggle to tighten the girth around a very stout belly, I point my toes inward, transforming from yogi to duck.

“You okay over there?” Mélie shouts from the shoulder of her other horse, Utique. “She giving you a hard time with the girth?”

I smack Satine lightly on the belly. “Suck it in, girl,” I say. Then, to Mélie: “I’ve got it!”

With the same attention to my feet, and hers, I lift the bit to Satine’s mouth. Then, all straps buckled, I lead her to the opening in the barbed wire fence, resisting the urge to announce that such a barrier would never effectively retain a Thoroughbred. In the middle of a one lane country road I swing my leg over Satine’s back and heave a sigh of relief. It’s safer up here than on the ground with all those car tire feet.

A cheval. On horseback. I was born here, and now that I am in the irons again I feel secure. I reach forward and stroke the caramel coat under Satine’s mane as she marches slowly and methodically along the road. Clip. Clop. Clip. Clop. Mélie instructs from the back of Utique.

“We’ll turn left onto the trail up ahead. Satine knows the way.”

And so does Satine’s foal, Baya, who intermittently trots along behind or canters ahead beside the road. This is the Franche-Comté region of France, where people drive their cars with the knowledge that they share the road with animals – mostly cows, but sometimes horses. Mélie is not concerned. When a little beat up Renault rounds a corner, she marches Utique out into the middle of the road and holds her hand up, signaling to be aware of the little one. The car scoots cautiously past a very nonchalant Baya.

Into the woods, what looks like an old logger’s trail opens up before us and I turn in my saddle to tell Mélie how much it reminds me of home.

“It’s just like this behind my house,” I say. “The tunnel of trees, deer trails, and moist, hilly terrain. I could be out here with my dad right now, but it’s you behind me instead!”

We talk about pony club and trail riding and the psychology of little girls and their horses. The reins are loose as I look over my shoulder at Mélie, who nudges Utique to catch up with Satine’s longer stride.

When we emerge from the woods, we’ll find the winding road that leads to Mélie’s village.  Approaching their big farm house – one that in another age contained the cows under the same roof as the owners – we will be greeted by her children’s voices. “Satine, Utique, Baya!” they’ll sing, exiting the house at a run. The horses won’t be fazed by the serenade, nor will they balk when the kids run right up beside them, reaching to stroke their soft muzzles and grasp their cream colored manes.

A cheval. As I sit at my computer, thousands of miles from Satine, Utique, and Baya, I look out my window and see two sleek bay Thoroughbreds in the pasture below.

In France, you can be à cheval when your feet are literally in the stirrups and you are “on horse.” You might also be à cheval sur les principes, which means you are a stickler for principles. But, most fittingly for me, you can be à cheval entre hier et demain, with one foot caught in the stirrup of yesterday and the other in that of tomorrow.

Today that’s where I am. Looking back, looking forward, looking to France.


Filed under Adventure, Cool Characters, Horses

Pur sang: Images of Thoroughbreds


I grew up on the back of a horse. There was a time when neighbors who spotted me on foot would ask if my horse was lame or sick. They expected me to be on a horse or beside a horse but never without a horse. It’s surprising to some of these neighbors and friends when I tell them my life in France doesn’t include much riding. I guess I’m not the type they’d expect to have grown out of it.

And I haven’t.

Each time I’m home I’m reminded of the thrill of galloping over cross-country fences and winding through the trees or splashing into the creek. Although I don’t ride daily, my love for horses remains. When I have the time and the means, one day I’ll gather the passion and will to ride and pack them up with me. I’ll take them wherever I am living at that time and plant them there. For now though, I’m content to find them safe where I left them a few years back: at my old Kentucky home.

{Rêve: “In the winter we gals let it all hang out.”}

{George, feeling good}


J’ai grandi sur le dos d’un cheval. A une époque, les gens qui me croisaient à pied me demandaient si mon cheval était blessé ou malade. Ils s’attendaient à me voir à cheval, ou à côté d’un cheval mais jamais sans cheval. Cela étonne certains de ces voisins et amis à qui je raconte que je ne monte pas beaucoup à cheval en France. Je pense qu’ils ne s’attendaient pas à ce que je puisse m’en passer.

Et je ne m’en passe pas.

A chaque retour à la maison je retrouve le frisson du galop par-dessus les clôtures, les slaloms dans les arbres ou les plongeons dans la crique. Même si je ne monte pas tous les jours, mon amour des chevaux persiste. Quand j’en aurai le temps et les moyens, un jour, je regrouperai ma passion et ma volonté de monter à cheval et je les embarquerai avec moi. Je les emmènerai où que je vive à ce moment-là et je les installerai là. Mais pour l’instant, je me contente de les retrouver sains et sauf à l’endroit où je les ai laissés il y a quelques années : dans ma vieille maison du Kentucky.

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Filed under Home, Horses, Kentucky, Photography

Life in Images: Happy 2012!

Hoping these images will get you all caught up (if a picture’s worth a thousand words…). Happy New Year, readers! Special thanks to everyone for your support and encouragement in 2011. I relished each comment and delighted in hearing that you appreciate my writing. Honestly, you’ve inspired me in so many ways. Writing this blog and hearing from you has brought much clarity to me in terms of where I am going and what I do best. So, thanks for launching me into a brand new year with lots of hope!

{Had to include this USA Santa from a visit with Erin’s family}

{“Sisters” + Oliver}


{Christmas Dinner and Lucien Boillot wine}

{Boxing Day Hunt}


Filed under Christmas, Gratitude, Horses, Kentucky, Photography, Wine

Hard at work…

Howdy, from the Wild West! As you can see, I’m “on assignment” this week, snapping away among some of the most beautiful backdrops in America.

Next week I’ll be doing some American wine investigation in California — educational purposes only? — and gallivanting around wine country with Aunt Linds.

I’ll be in touch as soon as possible…

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Filed under Adventure, Art, Horses, Photography, Travel, Wine

Life in Images: Scenes from around the farm

{EmilyintheGlass at Homearama}{Old jump standards get a fresh coat + A pretty pink face}{Potato buds and a still-green tomato}{King of the Garden}{After the rain}{Humidity rules, but work continues} Summer in Kentucky is a sauna.
A scrapbook of Julys passed.
The humid smells of childhood, of vegetables, of cut flowers.
It’s walking the hose across the yard
And filling the troughs.
Spraying the horses to cool them off.
It’s tomatoes and mozzarella
And pilfering basil and cilantro from the neighbors.
Summer in Kentucky is heat: heavy, oppressive heat.
Swimming through the day, coming up for breath in the nearest air-conditioning.
A cold beer
Yes — Kentucky is a cold beer, or the necessity thereof.
It’s frozen yogurt and frozen fruit and quickly melting ice cubes.
It’s waking up early and going to bed late and napping in between.
Summer in Kentucky is conducive to weeds
But not to weeding.
To bare feet that burn on the sidewalk.
To waiting to walk — or run — after dark.
Summer in Kentucky is not refreshing: not in the morning or at night
And most certainly not at noon.
It’s not encouraging of public transportation, be it bike or bus:
Anything without air.
Summer in Kentucky is not easy like a Sunday morning.
At least not this year.

Summer in Kentucky is not for the faint of heart.


Filed under Cool Characters, Home, Horses, Kentucky, Photography, Writing

A strange stillness

Out of the mist, a pretty face.

It’s been really hot lately.  I think my French friends would be shocked to know that the temperatures have been over one hundred degrees Fahrenheit (around 38 degrees Celsius) in Louisville.

With the humidity it feels hotter.

When it rains, it’s almost tropical.

But when the rain stops and I catch the regard of a pretty little Thoroughbred heading my way, her wet forelock hanging limp between her kind eyes, I escape for a moment from the heat and humidity and bask in the beauty of what both have left behind.

A strange stillness dwells
In the eye of the horse,
A composure that appears
To regard the world from
A measured distance….
It is a gaze from the depths
Of a dream…
— Hans-Heinrich Isenbart


Une étrange tranquillité

Sortant de la brume, une jolie tête.

Il a fait très chaud ces derniers temps. Je pense que mes amis Français seraient surpris d’apprendre que la température a dépassé les 100 degrés Fahrenheit (environ 38 degrés Celsius) à Louisville.

Avec l’humidité on a l’impression qu’il fait encore plus chaud.

Quand il pleut, c’est presque tropical.

Mais quand la pluie s’arrête et que je prête attention à un joli petit pur-sang venant vers moi, son toupet trempé retombant entre ses yeux tendres, je m’évade un moment de la chaleur et de l’humidité et je jouis de la beauté de ce que tous les deux ont laissé derrière.

Une étrange tranquillité repose
Dans l’œil du cheval,
Un calme qui semble
Observer le monde
A distance mesurée …
C’est un regard depuis les profondeurs
D’’un rêve …

–Hans Heinrich Isenbart

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Filed under Gratitude, Home, Horses, Photography