August 30, 2017
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Terese Brandwold | Northern Italy | Brandwoldphotography.com
” We can not stop being attributed to the beautiful countryside as we travel through the hills and valleys in our little car rental that will take us to the Emilia Romagna area, one hour’s drive outside Bologna. Emilia-Romagna is the landscape for life lovers, whose kitchen is one of Italy’s most characteristic. The Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, balsamico balsamic vinegar and Lambrusco wine are originally from here.
The dream of enjoying Italy, its famous food, wines and beautiful scenery has been our dream for a long time and halfway into our two week long road trip we arrive at Oak Wood Ranch. Two days we will spend on the horse farm and in addition to riding we look forward to enjoying the sun and nice company. Johan and Helena are the couple who owns Oak Wood Ranch, a riding school in Vallentuna, north of Stockholm before they decided to move to Italy.
When we do not think it is possible to get higher up in the mountains we finally arrive at the farm, after my travel company’s big disappointment that the driving has ended, the road has offered him really fun and challenging driving on narrow roads with sharp curves. I could not really let go of the idea of how a truck of horses reached the farm on these narrow roads, but the horse flock in the gardens at the residential building gossips about skilled drivers. As an old horse owner I meet with a familiar smell when we open the car doors and step into the yard. The farm consists of a hundred-year-old 300 sqm stone house and looks like a fit in any saga. Old wagon wheels, western hats and horseshoes as decorations, we have arrived at a real western farm. A larger company has left the farm in the morning and only two people remains; Camilla and Carina, mother and daughter who have made the reality of their dream of a riding trip in Italy.
For those who have ridden classically, western rides offer a lot of challenges. Camilla and Carina get used to using voice commands to steer the horses and work on long reins. Most of the horses are of the breed Quarter but there is also some Paint, two breeds well known for their witty and strong bodies, persistent and kind in the psyche, perfect for western riding. Stefan, my travel company, has been riding a horse once throughout his life and will accompany us on our four-hour ride but is less nervous than I am. A bad fall 10 years ago is still in my head. A new way of communicating despite all nervousness releases as soon as I have jumped up and turn around to see Stefans crack up in a big smile. What an adventure awaits us!
The horses will get good leg muscles due to the Italian move. The terrain is very hilly and has quite a challenging surface, but our quarters are steady on the feet. We pass by a small town to pass a brook and I get to check off one thing on my bucket list when we let the horses wade through the water. A few weeks before our visit, Helena had a visit by a local long-distance rider who allows us to ride us through a stunning lush landscape with scenes striking amazement. We meet with flowering gardens where the locals come out to talk with us before we ride further on to soft trails. In some cases, we need to jump off the horses and walk by foot and I feel in my legs that they have not saved any muscle memory since the early days as riders so it makes us feel good to stretch our legs. Even the beginner Stefan is safe and secure in the comfortable westerns saddles and when we gallop up the last hill, the warm warm winds feel amazing and all insecurity has long been forgotten.
Never really taste a really well-liked meal, as just after a longer physical pass and back at the farm again, we are hungry and please to be served Johans pestopasta with mozzarella and sun-dried tomatoes. Looking out over the hills, we see satisfied horses who roll in the grass after being washed off and we feel that there are more riding trips coming up in the future. ”