The highlight of Marengo’s seven weeks at Hof Steigerwald was to be a hike home. Sounded like a good plan, but if both participating humans are blessed with a heavy workload, it was also very ambitious. Marengo’s owner Nadine and I had 4 days available for the trip. According to the omniscient modern technology it would amount to a 106 km tour. Because our horses would be travelling with us on the trail with an average 10 km per day over gravel, pebbles, concrete, and sand, we were curious how far we would actually get. For my Shetty Wolfgang it was the first hiking tour with an overnight stay, for Marengo it was the second.
It was a hot summer’s day, during the midday heat not a bit of shade for quite a long time. What a blessing to finally enter a forest! But there the next challenge awaited us: Gravel! In order to cross streams, we were forced to stick to the main traffic routes and squeeze along the narrow sloping curbs, sometimes half a meter below street level. However, Jupiter’s paws testified to the current state of those streams. Poor boy. We picked apples, pears and plums from trees along the roads. Oh, how I like the feeling of being so well cared for! Although a little early for the season, we were treated to spontaneous nerve training sessions by passing corn choppers and agricultural machinery. Ralf and Monika Meyer from the Coldewey 2 farm near Sulingen gave us a warm welcome as they had already done when we stayed with them eight weeks earlier.
The next morning, the ponies stood on Ralf’s home-made horse scale. Wolfgang still should lose another 20 to 30 kg. Marengo had lost about 80 kg during his stay at Hof Steigerwald! Afterwards, we continued through moor gravel. And it is hot, mercilessly hot. We pass through a beautiful landscape, find blackberries, and a truly wonderful place for our midday rest. Side roads are blocked with traffic because the federal highway is closed. Finally, we feel grass under our hooves again ?. During a break we decided to cut the day’s hike and go only a little further. Another corn chopper comes along to test our nerves, after which we are rewarded with a breathtaking view over North German heathland. Then Marcel brings our equipment for an outdoor night camp. I can only encourage everyone to indulge in the experience of a night under the stars with the background noise of chewing horses and circling crickets. This falls definitely into the category “Chicken soup for the soul.”
After the luxury of a fresh cup of coffee we continue our way. Newly purchased map shows a way that does not exist, alternative path found, gravel again, a beautiful landscape, and – you guess – some more gravel. Finally another copse, an ancient path, enchanting atmosphere, green and silent. We pass some farm houses and consider to ask for a night camp – if it was not broad daylight. On the edge of the moore our last order for a shadowy spot: Lunch break. While we keep looking at the caterpillar excavator a 500m away and pondering how quickly we would be able lead the ponies out of the way into side path, we were hit by a challenge a different sort: a bunch of peat-cars rattling by, all the while we fed our ponies non-stop to glue them to the spot.
After that adventure came the most beautiful part of the hike. Pure nature, sandy soil under your feet and hooves…pure bliss. When we got back to civilization it actually started to rain. After another short break we needed to go only a little bit further, where our wonderful husbands picked us up with the teams and brought us home. I’m soooo glad we set out! The beauty of this story is: If Marengo did not have trouble loading in the first place, I would never have come up with the idea of taking a few days off, virtually right after my Open House day and directly before next week’s seminar with Bob Bailey.
Wolfgang and Jupiter have grown even closer to my heart in these three days. There is never that much intensity in the relationship with an animal during everyday life. So, let us always look at the good things to come!