In less than four weeks we will have begun the 2013 edition of the “Transhumance d’automne”. Twice a year, a herd of ±70 horses, of which 15 are ridden, are led over the Pyrenees from Porta, in de Vallée de Carol to Denis in the Aude. This journey takes four days in the late autumn covering a map-distance of about 150km – in the spring, the journey back to Porta takes six days covering a map-distance of about 180 km. In actual fact, when all the bends and ups and downs are taken into account, the distances are closer to 180km en 240km. Despite being shorter, the autumn edition is probably the hardest – although the weather can be pretty inclement in the spring too. The days are all long in the autumn and the weather always plays a role! Four years ago there was so much snow that the landscape was completely unrecognizable; three years ago, it was unbelievably cold with daytime temperatures of -15˚C; the year after that, although the temperature remained pretty constant at around 8˚C, there was heavy rain, the whole day long, on every one of the four days; last spring begun with 23˚C and clear skies but on the third day, there was again heavy rain from begin to end. This was followed on days 4, 5 and 6 by snow – more than 15cm falling on the last night. The Transhu is a perfect example of how unshod horses can cover long distances in a short time without going lame and without wearing out their hooves despite covering all manner of terrain including asphalt, stone, rock, mud, ice, snow etc. Because all the horses (including those ridden) are unshod, they have much more control over placing their feet, they are much more conscious of where they place them and, because of their natural form, structure and movement, they have far more grip on the surface. The chance of tendon and joint injuries through impact traumas is also reduced to an absolute minimum.
Follow this blog from Saturday 14 December for a daily report from the Pyrenees.