November Bargains & free books

Ryanair….. love them or hate them, they have some seriously good offers on for November. Flights from UK airports to Limoges are £14.99 one way with free on line check in. That’s a return flight for under £30. Limoges airport is open all year round and runs flights every other day from airports in the UK, so you really could grab a bargain.


Add to that our winter offers prices and the freebies that go with it and you could be spending a week enjoying the French countryside, walking, riding or biking and then relaxing by a log burner with a hot glass of mulled wine. The Freebies for November are a free horse ride or quad bike ride for every weekly booking.

Don’t forget each gite now has a kindle e-reader and we are also offering free Holiday reads so why not browse the bestseller books on Amazon and we will purchase 2 books for you and they will be loaded onto your kindle. All our gites have a log burner and heating throughout so when you come back from a days exploring all you need to do, is put your feet up and relax.

Enjoy a cheap and relaxing week in France

Painted Ponies

It is always great to treat you or your horse to something a little special, and we have always treated our horses by making a space on the stable door for their name plaque. It was only the other day that I was looking at Benjie’s plaque and realised it must be 8 years old now and it is still as good as the day we got it. It has been moved from England to France and from Stable to Stable as he has been moved around and yet it still looks great and I always think great things are worth sharing.

our painted Ponies

Whatever things you find on this blog are honest opinions. Our horsey review section will have our honest opinions of things that we think are great, or not so great. We have bought things from painted Ponies for over 8 years now and looking at the condition of Benjie’s plaque makes me feel it is worth mentioning this little gem of a company.

Painted Ponies is run by Lisa and is based in Bolton in the UK. Lisa has been painting ponies, and other animals for 9 years now and not only does plaques, but anything and everything horsey. She does animal portraits, cups and wine glasses, trinket boxes and horse accessories, all with hand painted pictures and names of your horse. We still have a brush with a picture of Benjie and it is still going strong,  after 8 years of use. Lisa told me ” I’ve always loved art and horses and adding the 2 together seemed the obvious job“. Lisa started painting and personalising grooming brushes and tack boxes, then soon after stable door plaques were next to be included and most recently pastel portraits. She has added dogs to her works and can create pastel artworks of your four legged friend.

Dog Portraits

Lisa is now highly recognized in her field and has a great following of regular customers. Lisa has a stand at Robinsons Equestrian at certain weekend throughout the year where you can go and view her products, watch her at work and place an order.

horsey treats for our guests

Special Treats

Lisa has provided us with some special treats for our returning guests. She has made hand painted key rings, personalized key rings, wine glasses and trinket boxes, all of them with individual pictures of horses and dogs. So if you are looking for a special treat for yourself,  your horse or a horsey friend why not take a look at her website or follow her on facebook  here to see her latest works.

Beautiful Brown Eyes

Have you ever looked into those gorgeous brown eyes and wondered what is going on. Well, not always brown although it is the more common colour. Horses eyes also come in blue, hazel, amber, and green. I spotted a stunning photograph which inspired me to write a little about horses eyes


Animal Eyes by Suren Manvelyan

“The softness of a horses eye is enough to warm even the coldest of hearts”

Apart from being a stunning piece of photography It did make me think a little about horses and their vision. Understanding a little about how horses see things can help with certain problems, but also make you aware of how your horse may react to certain situations. If you can understand how the horse sees its environment and why they react to light changes. It can make things a lot safer.

Light changes

It may seem great cantering along a forest path on a summers day in and out of the shade of the trees, but for a horse, this is a difficult situation. It takes horses a lot longer to adjust to rapidly changing light situations. I was always taught that when you canter out of shade and into light there is a delay in the horses vision while it adjusts to the light. You may notice if you enter the stable at night and turn on the light, the horse will blink for quite a while its eyes adjust to the light. So cantering in and out of tree shades could mean your horse is occasionally running blind while his eyes adjust. This can also explain situations where a horse is not wanting to go into a trailer. A short trip from stable into sunlight and then dark trailer can be a little overwhelming. It is better to let your horse have a few extra seconds in the sunlight while his eyes adjust. As most of our rides around Grandmont are forested, we are very aware of the changing light when out on rides, it makes for safer riding.

Spatial Perception

Naturally horses are prey animals and their vision is set up to cope with their threatening environment. They must be able to see things at a distance, see movement at a distance and be able to escape before a threat arrives. The eyes on the side of the head gives a near 360 degree view. The obvious lack of vision being at the rear of the horse. A sensible reason why we don’t walk behind a horse without talking or touching to let it know we are there. The other lack of vision is directly in front of them. When your horse is negotiating narrow obstacles, I always try to remember they may be doing this blind and using their peripheral vision ( and you) to guide them. If you are negotiating small obstacles it is often instinct to get the horse on the bit and guide forward. In actual fact,I find,  a simple turn of the head from the horse will allow it to focus in on the object. Again we have lots of narrow tracks and bridges, so just being aware of this is again safety conscious. A horses vision will increase or decrease with how he holds his head. A horse “ on the bit” with his head perpendicular to the ground will focus only a few feet ahead and will find it very difficult for focusing on distant objects. This is why when jumping, a rider will let his horse raise its head a few strides before to assess jumps and distances. Jumping Horses will often make a quick turn of the head to allow it to focus better and be aware of its spatial surroundings. Have you ever been on a ride and the horse stops and stares, or spooks at nothing.? Horses ability to see motion is far greater than ours and in the natural environment would be used to spot threats at a distance. I am always keen to learn more about our horses and simple things like understanding how their eyes work is just another way to get to know your horse better and have safer riding.


So when I look into those beautiful brown eyes, even though I know how they work, I will never know what is going on in their head!!


Free Holiday Competition


The new website is finally up and running and to celebrate we are running a competition. Last years competition proved a huge success and one lucky person spent a week with us with her friends.

Our blog is also being updated over the next week and will have lots of new posts on French lifestyle and equestrian, including product reviews, a learn the language page and history of our local villages, so you can also follow our blog.

All you have to do to enter the competition is like our facebook page and share this post or picture.

facebook competition

Happy Summer memories and Happy smiley faces

I spent yesterday sorting out files on my computer ready for the new website ( any day now) and ended up going through some of the summer photographs we have taken. There are so many happy smiley faces that it brought back some memories of great times last summer and has made us all look forward to next summer. Not that things really stop over the winter, we still have bookings and riders coming.

The photos reminded me how many different people of different ages and nationality have ridden our horses. Some having their first riding experiences, other experiencing riding in forests for the first time.

“No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle”.  ~Winston Churchill

Happy horse riding

A Thank you to all the guests who choose to spend their holidays with us at Grandmont and a Thank you to our horses who work without argument and bring pleasure to so many people.

Happy Faces

Magnesium oxide as Horse calmer

Magnesium Oxide for horses

Today is 3 months since we started a course of Magnesium oxide for Sophia, or what we now refer to as the miracle cure.

magnesium sulphite

Okay, I agree, this may look like something that you would not want in your suitcase going through customs.

It is probably easier to explain our situation. Sophia was very close to be passed on as too stroppy. We had heard of stroppy mares but had never really had the problem until Sophia came along. We put her stroppiness down to her upbringing and the fact that she had not been ridden until she was 6 years old. Not only was Sophia stroppy she was also terrified of everything and was nervous wreck on rides. The jumpiness was become a danger and re-homing was looking a real possibility, as a last resort someone mentioned to try Magnesium oxide. There are lots of calmer’s and products available and this is where the research started to see how they actually work.

Now these are only our opinions and so called expert opinions vary on calmer’s and what we now call our miracle cure “ Magnesium

Magnesium plays a huge part in horses and is possibly the most important mineral. It works in conjunction with calcium and maintaining a good level of both provides a balanced horse. However magnesium is lost quite easily through sweat, urine and stress and if grazing does not offer adequate replacement then it is quite easy for a horse to have low magnesium levels. That spring grass that horses love is great tasting but low in magnesium and unless fields that are grazed regular are treated and fertilized correctly then they will become a poor source for Magnesium.

It was explained to me by a local vet in simple terms and this made us consider a natural product. He told us; In their natural state a horse will graze and continually move, the horse will find varied herbs and plants and will graze on varied grassland, so there will be no real over use of the land. The problem is that we now fence and limit animal’s ability to roam and must therefore provide them with things that they would normally eat to maintain health. On Magnesium It was explained to me to try and imagine that someone made me jump, and that second or two of adrenalin rush, it usually passes after a few seconds as the adrenalin is replaced. With a horse, Magnesium is needed to give back that calming feeling and unlike humans, it can take a lot longer, especially if the horse has a deficiency. A threat on a horse’s life in the wild will give a huge adrenalin boost that will be enough to propel the horse from the danger. The horse will not just run a few steps and turn, it will run until it is exhausted or has used its adrenalin boost and then it will need to replenish its magnesium levels to attain a calm state again. Unfortunately this is something that can take a while.


 Sophia the stroppy mare ! ( the one on the left)

This made us think about Sophia. The minute she had a spook, she was then constantly on edge and could not seem to calm down. We thought that before we started using calmer’s we would have a go at a more natural approach and give her Magnesium supplements. We purchased a magnesium lick, the other horses sniffed and turned their nose up, but Sophia could not get enough so we went one step further and after getting some information we contacted in the UK for some advice and to order some to try. We had lots of Questions and Nikki was very helpful in guiding us in making the right choice.

Since purchasing from Natural Horse Supplies we have asked Nikki to give us her opinion on Magnesium and other Herbal products for Horses.

We asked Nikki .

How popular is Magnesium ?

magnesium oxide has always been one of our top sellers. We recommend customers try it first as a calmer, as if it is going to help, you should see an improvement within a couple of days. We also have many customers who feed it to improve hoof strength, particularly with barefoot horses”.

What is the difference between 85% and 99% ?

“Magnesium oxide (heavy) is very pure (99.2%) pharmaceutical grade. Calcined magnesite goes through an extensive purification process to make the heavy mag ox. The 85% mag ox is just the calcined magnesite before this process. Both provide a good source of magnesium, but you need less of the purer product”.

Magnesium has been proven to us but are there any other natural products that have a calming effect on horses ?

 “Valerian root is a very effective calmer, but is banned by some competing bodies. Our Herbal Calm is a popular blend of chamomile, vervain and valerian. Agnus castus is also very useful for stroppy mares and riggy geldings”.

How long have you been selling natural horse products and what made you choose to do this ?.

“We have been trading for over 6 years now, and started with just mag ox, seaweed, brewers yeast, garlic and linseed. We now have over 40 herbs and 16 blends, as well as an extensive range of homeopathic remedies. It was originally for extra income whilst I was working as a supply teacher, but within a year I left teaching to run the business full-time. 3 years ago my husband also joined the business and it is lovely to now be a limited company!”

What are your best selling products?

“Magnesium oxide has been our top seller for a long time but seems to be overtaken by agnus castu powder now. We also sell a lot of boswellia which is a natural alternative to bute, and our mobility blend glucosamine/boswellia/msm”.

How do you consider natural products against chemically made formulas.?

“We always recommend taking veterinary advise in medical cases, but our herbs and blends can help support the horse to maintain good health, as well as assisting in healing. I would love to be able to give my horses access to a hedgerow full of different herbs and other plants, but this is not possible on most livery yards! I feel that using herbs is a good alternative”.

Natural Horse Supplies serves many customers that work in the equine world, including farriers, barefoot trimmers, vets, chiropractors, etc

natural horse supplier

So, Magnesium oxide as a calmer is, in our opinion, the miracle cure that has made Sophia the happy and content horse that she now is. We do think that balanced horses are generally happier in themselves. It is important to understand that if we restrict the natural diet of a horse, then we must offer substitutes of the natural products they need. We now have four very happy, very healthy and very content horses. A lot of this can be put down to a healthy, natural diet and natural substitutes.


A healthy diet makes a healthy Horse

A healthy diet makes a healthy Horse

Music festival in Bessines

About 20 minutes drive from us is the village étape of Bessines sur Gartempe. This summer, as every summer, they are host to a weekend of music and festivals as musicians from all over the world congregate to play. The town is bustling with activity and there are markets and huge variety of food stalls.

Bessines-sur-Gartempe was actually the first village étape in France and was established in 1995. The initiative was created in the Haute-Vienne département of Limousin in 1989 as a way to encourage traffic from the main routes and motorways to take a break, whilst also boosting the economy of small villages who’s services may become extinct without passing trade. There is a website that is worth looking at if you are considering driving in France. A village étape are normally located on the edge or by a main motorway and they offer a range of facilities, the minimum being

– shops offering basic requirements (baker, butcher-delicatessen, grocer, newsagent)
– a range of eateries giving visitors the opportunity to discover the culinary traditions of each village
– star rated hotels
– a tourist office or a tourism information point
– shaded parking places
– a telephone kiosk
– a shaded picnic area
– 24-hour accessible toilets
– a cash point
So Bessines is known for being the first village étape in France and it does offer the basics and a lot more too.
The Festival this year was, as usual, a success with sun shining, the bands marching and a perfect end to the weekend with a firework display.
So next time your are driving through France and see the “village étape” signs, why not try one ans support the local economy and also get to see some great little places.

Fishing in Grandmont Haute Vienne

Not being a keen fisherman, my knowledge was limited on fishing.

We had a guest staying with us, the author of  “avon days and stour ways” who has kindly compiled a fisherman’s view of the fishing in our area.


Experiences Fishing In Grandmont Area

The Coarse/ Carp fisherman has two choices when visiting the area. He can seek out the private carp fisheries run as commercial concerns or he or she can fish the hundreds of waters covered by the regional or Department rod licence or ‘Carte’ at a cost of 30 euros per week. The local rivers also provide fishing for species of fish the UK angler would identify. The Barbel that exist on the Vienne could be the smaller silver southern variety that I suspect locals refer to as “catfish” whereas the Wels is called Silure.

If one chooses the private commercial fisheries these are often 50 euros for a twenty four hour session and in any event many of them only cater for a weeks booking at many hundred euros! As my fishing was limited I did not bother with the commercials and bought a licence for a week from the tackle shop in Ambazac. The tackle dealer here is most helpful and though he professed not to speak English at all, with my excruciating school boy french and his creditable understanding of English fishing terms, we managed.If the visiting angler is not confident about making themselves understood the tourist office in Ambazac (just a few hundred yards from the tackle shop) will telephone through to the tackle shop with your requirements.

Regional fisheries covered by your licence fall into two categories:-

Category One fisheries are restricted to two rods and do not seem to allow for any night fishing. They also somewhat surprisingly have a season that finishes in mid September.

Category Two fisheries allow up to four rods and also some night fishing.The season normally finishes in December. I suspect that the difference in categories is something to do with the fact that Cat 1 waters augment the local water supply and have trout in them which are out of season after September,  but I cannot be sure.

I fished a lake at Joncherre just 8km or so from Grandmont for a few hours one afternoon. This was a category 1 water and is probably about 14 acres or so. I saw one heavy carp crash out so I think this water has potential in excess of my results and would probably respond to repeat daily visits to establish a feeding area. These fish are not pressured as in the UK and I left with the impression that day fishing would not be an impediment to catching.

The second water I fished for twenty four hours and is therefore clearly a category 2 water. This was Etang S’Agnat at Bessines, a much bigger lake close to the little town and very easily reached from Grandmont being about twenty minutes drive. You do not have to even get on the main A road as the D road takes you right into Bessines itself. Their are only 6 night swims and one has to phone a number to book the swim (or “post”) prior to fishing though the man in the tackle shop could do this. Swims One and two are on the East bank and a long walk from the parking spot. Swims 3, 4, 5 and six are on the west bank reached by driving over the dam wall and taking a left turn into the Rue d’ Forge.

The tackle dealer tells me the carp here run to 10 or 15 kilos. I had a very busy night with six carp from one fish of approx seven pound plus five low to mid doubles topped by a fish about 14lb. During daylight I tried float fishing for the tench that also inhabit the lake without any luck but I did catch an awful lot of roach and rudd up to about 8 ounces on sweet corn. The carp here did not seem fussy and were caught on a variety of baits such as pop up boilies anchored two inches above the bottom, snowmen type rigs with the top bait being buoyant and also Tiger nuts and maize. If I fished here again to maximise sport I would use Barbel type rods of !.5 or 1.75 test curve as there are very few snags, I suspect that the bigger fish the tackle dealer talks of do exist, but the numbers in the year class of fish I caught can make targeting the bigger fish difficult. The angler must accept that many waters in the Ambazac region are upland waters or dams and are probably not as nutrient rich as the lowland french lakes which famously produce giant fish. Their are carp fisheries on the Vienne river that allow night fishing and these are close to barrages or dams where the water is impounded and the fish can be larger.

A very useful leaflet exists in the tourist office and tackle shop which shows the choices available to the visiting angler. I hope this is useful but please remember my experiences were limited by one very short session and one 24 hour stint.

K Grozier


Autumn has arrived

Autumn has suddenly arrived. One thing I like about France is the distinct seasons, you literally wake up one morning and a new season has arrived. Today it is autumn. The weather has been a bit iffy but the forecast for next week is 25 degrees and lots of sun. The pool is still open, although only 26 degrees water temperature today, hopefully the next week of sun will bring it back up.

We had some guests who stayed with us a few weeks ago and with a remote helicopter they gave us some views of Grandmont from the air.


When I see these, I realise how forested we are, and how high up Grandmont is.


It was Izzy’s third stay with us. She has been for a sneaky weekend horse riding with her mum and her riding has come on so much. Hope you dont mind being famous izzy.


This is Izzy on Benjie. As always, Benjie performs perfectly.



And here he is again, doing his duty with Jaime who did some excellent work with him this year, well done Jaime !!

The horses have worked exceptionally hard this year, going through a pair of shoes every four weeks. We still have riders staying with us over the coming weeks, but the work is not so intense and they can have plenty of free time to be horses and play in the fields.


The New website, it will be here soon, just some technical hick ups. We will be having a promotion to coincide with the new website and blog, so watch this space.

It has been a great summer and I will be posting all about in the near future.