Allo Allo all you inglesi people. My name is Oural de St Gabriel and I am a very charming and ‘andsome French boy.
I am a purebred Camargue horse, born in the Camargue region of France. I was born in 2002 and have already had an eventful life. In spring 2008 I was one of ten Camargue horses bought by an Anglo French charity. They provide horses for the English and French RDA. We were all ridden here by young people who also benefited from the amazing experience of riding across France and then to London. Yes, I have seen the sights of London, and very impressive they were.
Finally I was delivered to my new home, Barrow Farm, on what I have come to realise was a typical English day, pouring with rain. After arriving from France I did some lunging with Anne and went for walks in the wood. And, bliss, I have had a long rest. Since being here I have settled in and made friends with with all the ponies. I like to race around the field with the other horses here, in fact I have heard Sally say I am a bit of a ringleader, leading the others astray. Just showing a bit of French “joie de vivre”.
Before leaving France I worked with the bulls, herding and suchlike. I haven’t seen any bulls here so my job as an RDA pony has come as quite a surprise.I do lots of school rides and I work quite hard on Saturday’s too.
I like to walk quite fast and I don’t like it when riders are heavy handed with the reins (I’m very sensitive you know) but I like my job and I also enjoy going out to play with Clare. We have done dressage (a little bit of fun, if Clare would let me go faster), show-jumping (more fun but I still need to go faster) and jumping cross-country (lots of fun, I get to go very fast).
Now I have been here a few years I can even do some off lead work with a few able riders. I have a real variety of riders from school riders, to those doing dressage, young riders and older riders – I really am rather versatile. Although I am called grey in colour (as you can see from my early photos at the top I was once really quite grey), I have lost most of my darker grey and now look white (if you look very closely you will see I have some darker hairs and black skin). This means I get to spend lots of time with Clare as she washes me whenever I get dirty, luckily I love getting clean as much as I love getting dirty. Including getting dressed up for the annual Carol Service when I carry one of the angels.
In 2016 I went to the regional RDA competition at Oaklands College. I did some dressage and the Countryside Challenge. Clare had to get me very clean and it was an interesting day as you can see below doing the trotting in the Countryside Challenge with Molly. They told me I did not qualify to go to the Nationals but I still won lots of rosettes – and there is always next year…
Life has had its exciting moments since I last updated my page. I have been to the National Championships not once but twice! In 2018, both Rafferty and Lula were supposed to be competing at the National Championships, having qualified at the regionals with their riders. I was looking forward to a lovely relaxing weekend whilst everyone went off to Hartpury. Suddenly my quiet life was interrupted because Rafferty and Lula went lame at the same time! What are the chances of that happening! This meant me and Tawny had to step up. Tawny was a seasoned National Champs pony so everyone knew he would be fine whereas it was a first for me. I was very honoured that they were putting their trust in me and I heard Clare assuring everyone that I would be a superstar. However, this did mean I had to endure 3 weeks of washing prior to the event. Clare was in her element and I have never been so clean in all my life! The weekend arrived and we set off in a borrowed lorry (our bad luck continued with a broken lorry!) The weekend was certainly a busy one. I had to do tack and turnout classes both days, which meant more baths and lots of time standing whilst I was plaited. It was worth it though because I came 2nd on the Saturday and 1st on the Sunday! I also took part in the Grade 1 dressage class with another Claire where we had to two dressage tests, one set test and one freestyle test to music. I managed to keep my cool throughout both tests and behaved impeccably even though there were some scary corners in the arena. Everyone was so pleased with me afterwards and Clare promised me lots of lovely biscuits when we got back to the stables. It was a very successful weekend, despite all the drama leading up to it.
The following year, I got to compete at the regionals with my own riders and I qualified for the National Championships myself by winning the countryside challenge class. Me and my rider Dino won the most enormous trophy as well as lots of rosettes and I was going to the National Championships again! I do like to remind my best mate Starra that he has never been to Hartpury, when he is being particularly annoying! We had another great weekend although I did find the Countryside Challenge course a little exciting, which made Dino’s job harder but we still came away with a 4th place rosette.
Since then life has been a little strange, in March 2020 the yard suddenly went quiet. We heard the girls saying we were in lockdown due to a virus that affects humans and they didn’t know when our riders would be able to return. We have had many hours out in the fields enjoying the sunshine but it was still way too quiet everywhere. We all missed our work as we do like to be busy and were relieved when we heard we could start to reopen in July. The other ponies started to have a few riders again but there was no one for me. Finally after several weeks my old mate Dino returned and I was able to start working again.
This winter is the first winter in years that I haven’t been clipped and covered in rugs. I heard Sally saying that as we weren’t so busy, we could be ponies and live as nature intended. I think it’s fantastic, every night I go out and roll and roll and roll some more in the glorious mud. By the morning I have covered every last inch of me in mud and I feel amazing! However, I’m not sure Clare is so happy about it, judging her howls of disgust every morning as she tries to get me clean.
Sadly we are now on lockdown number 3 and are closed again for at least another 6 weeks. We are all keeping our fingers crossed that this will be the final lockdown and we can get back to our day job. Meanwhile I am keeping busy doing lots of pole work and hacking with Clare so I can be in the best possible shape for the eventual return of my riders.
If you would like to sponsor me, please go to the Sponsor a Pony page.