Horse riding holiday in central Europe
We started out slow, the guide’s horse, Pola, in the lead, as we made our way into the woods. Sunlight filtered through the leaves so that, despite the chill of autumn, the woods were warm and quiet. After a few moments, Pola picked up a trot. With a lurch, Grand sprang into action, speeding past the guide’s horse to take the lead as I jostled in the English saddle, my muscles struggling to remember how to post smoothly with Grand’s footfalls. It didn’t take long to find a rhythm, as Grand’s trot slowed down and I relaxed, taking in the scenery around me. Tall birch trees surrounded the path, their leaves of green and yellow making an archway above, and the already fallen leaves crunched softly under our horse’s hooves. When we emerged from the forest into a rolling green valley of long grass and wheat fields, I could feel Grand’s muscles tense in anticipation.
“Gallop?” the guide asked. Before I could answer her horse took his first steps, which Grand took as a challenge; he was off like a canon shot. I sat tall in my seat, trying to hold him to a canter, softly calling “whoa” and realizing he probably had no idea what I was saying, but he would have none of my feeble attempts to slow him, racing at a full-out gallop up the hill. I gave in and let him go, my eyes tearing up in the wind, and a huge smile on my face as we slowed to a walk at the hill’s crest. Maybe, I thought, I’m not as good a rider as I used to be. I probably couldn’t have stopped Grand if I tried. I was just along for the ride, but it was such a great one that I didn’t really mind.
Horseback riding vacation at Palac Mierzęcin
For the next hour and a half, we explored more of the hotel’s sprawling grounds, weaving between the shadowy woods and the sunny fields, past the vineyards, and finally back to the palace. Despite a full hotel and the many kilometers of running, biking, and riding trails that crisscross the property, we only encountered one other person the entire time.