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My own French Invasion

Published: 8/26/2010
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By Maddy B. Gray

When I was in high school, I spent a school year in France and lived with a family there. My “French brother” and I became great friends.
When I left, he visited me in Maine and we stayed in touch. One year, he traveled here with his new wife, Agnes (pronounced “ahn-yes” in French, a much prettier pronunciation, if you ask me).
Agnes and I got along well, so well in fact that we planned a cross-country trip together. To Montana and back. 6,000 miles in a Toyota station wagon. With four kids ranging from six months to six years.
What’s shocking and impressive, if you ask me, is that we remained friends after that marathon road trip!

This month, Agnes returned after 13 years for a 10-day visit. She brought her two daughters, Alix and Blanche, and good friend, Anne-Laure.

It was a thrill to reconnect and to find, after all these years, we still have plenty of thoughts, humor, diversions and passions in common.
Most relevant for this space, of course, is our passion for horses.
Agnes and her daughters are beginners, but well-informed and learning on every level (not just riding). Anne-Laure, is an excellent rider and works as barn manager and instructor at their stables, Centre Equestre du Bois de Soeuvres.

While they visited, we ponied the horses to and from the pasture. We rode around my place. We camped in Acadia with the horses (and managed to pick the one rainy day all month!). To show them some diversity, we visited a few of my clients’ barns.
They ride English so adjusting to Western riding was interesting.

“Let go of the reins! Let go of the reins!”

The most exciting time, I think, was our day with Elijah Moore at his place in Searsport.
Elijah is The Boss of natural horsemanship. Heck, he was practicing natural horsemanship before the term was born.
I’d like to think their time with Elijah was as enlightening for them as it always is for me. He talked with them about horses in a herd and how the lead horse dictates the movement and comfort of the other horses.
“If you just understand what he does with the others, then you can be that leader by moving their feet or by asking them to stand still. You can be that horse.”

On top of his tutelage, we were treated to a lunch as he would have made on the Utah range where he spent decades.
He cooked up a carnivore’s delight, with fall-off-the-bone pork, mutton, chicken, and beef. (Ok, so you might not drum up such a meal on the open range, but cut us some slack!)
He introduced the ladies to roping. Anne-Laure took to it right away and Elijah half-joked that she should come out to Utah and he’d put her to work.
Be careful what you said, Lige, you might be picking us all up at the Las Vegas airport some day soon!

Coming Soon: The visitors’ point of view

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8/26/2010 Hannah
Right on ladies!
8/26/2010 Joy
Great video Maddy...thanks for sharing! Looks like everyone had a great time...:).
8/31/2010 Donna Mori
Looks like you all had a great time!! My friend Heather and I just got back from Acadia, AMAZING trials and scenery!!! We also fought some torrents of rain!!
8/31/2010 Margy
Wow! As usual Maddy this is wonderful. Thank so much.
9/15/2010 Martha
Thanks so much for sharing these great photos! I miss you! Glad you all had such a wonderful visit, and mostly good weather!

"Love means attention, which means looking after the things we love. We call this stable management." - George H. Morris