Lorna Goode of Goode Rider and her sisters don’t mess around when it comes to testing their equestrian apparel: read Lorna’s account of the Goode Girls’ recent test trip riding across France!
Balancing riding with a full time career and kids, fashion designer Lorna Goode became aware of the industry’s need for chic clothing that effortlessly transition from the barn to the street: Thus Goode Rider was born. The company has since revolutionized the look of women’s riding apparel and created a collection that is fashion forward, trendy and flattering using the latest technical fabrics and technologies.
This year Lorna recruited her sisters for a new product wear test in France, which looks to be an annual trip for select Goode Rider fans! Lorna’s account of the trip follows. All images courtesy of Lorna Goode.
Fashion, horses, castles, good food and wine have always been my passions. So I can’t even describe for you my excitement when we decided to do our first ever Goode Rider wear test in France, riding from chateaux to chateaux for six days. I enlisted my two sisters Teresa (an avid horse woman who breeds and owns 60 Andalusians in Spain) and Anneli (my sister in Sweden who has not ridden in 24 years, but grew up riding — kind of like riding a bike, right?) So three sisters came from three different countries, met up in Spain and drove up to Dordogne, France where we started our trip.
Needless to say we were fully equipped with Goode Rider clothing, Spring ’16 and Fall ’17 Collections, to test for each day! Having checked the weather report — rain every day — we came prepared! This is what our car/luggage looked like.
We drove through the French countryside and five and a half hours later ended up at our first stop, a chateaux in the village of Tremolat, population 666 people in 2007. However, this seemed more of a summer vacation town and since it was mid-May, the whole town was empty — exactly what we wanted, privacy and seeing the country for what it really was without tourists. Tired, a little jet lagged but excited, we settled in to our rooms and were treated like royalty with a seven-course gourmet meal!
We were picked up early in the morning by our equestrian tour guide Stéphane Fournier. He was slight, built like a jockey, and we quickly found out he didn’t speak a lick of English … a slight setback as we had been promised an English-speaking tour guide. Luckily for us, Teresa speaks fluent French and had to be the trip translator or we would have missed out on all the rich history the area of Dordogne has to offer.
We found out that Stéphane was an Arabian endurance rider, was scheduled to do 120 kilometers the week after our trip, and had been doing these trips with his father for many, many years.
Arabian? What? I’m thinking to myself … we will be on sturdy, calm, Quarter horses for our ride, right?
Nope, Arabians they are: beautiful animals, high spirited but obviously used to doing these kinds of trips. Stéphane introduced us to our horses, “three sisters for three sisters”, he says. Get ready for a six-hour day in the saddle!
Being used to big-necked Andalusians and calm, controlled canters on the bit, we quickly had to switch gear as after the first canter — I mean, gallop — the necks went up in the air and there seemed to be no stop button.
We were going fast and tears were streaming down my face from the wind. I quickly turned around to check on my sister Anneli, being worried that the speed would be a lot for her after not being in the saddle for so long. Only to see a s**t -eating grin from side to side. Wow, this was riding! We felt like we were 16 again. And the views, oh the views …
“Pinch me”, I said to my sisters after a little while, is this really for real?
Woke up early and went with Teresa for a slow, four-mile run to stretch out our muscles. Ouch, my inner thighs were burning, and if I felt this way I couldn’t even imagine what Anneli felt like, not having been in a saddle for 24 years. I went by her room and seeing her face, immediately hand her three pain killers. She gets a medal after this trip, that’s for sure!
We rode by numerous stunning castles and stopped for a tour in Les Eyzies-de-Tayac. We tied our horses up to a couple of trees; it seriously felt like we were in the Sherwood Forest or something. There we visited a haunted castle, Chateuax de Commarque, that was built in the 1100’s.
The story goes that the lady of the house was locked in the tower after being caught by her husband having an affair with the man of the “castle next door.” She would put a candle in the window when her husband was gone and the “neighbor” would see it and ride over. When her husband found out he put the candle in the window, pretending to be her, and caught up with the neighbor on his way over, who was never seen again … But when there is a storm and thunder in the area, his horse’s hooves can be heard galloping through the meadow … spooky!
The town surrounding the area is now three meters higher, as nature has taken over. What you see in the pictures below are the roof tops of the caves surrounding the town that at its heyday had been populated by 3000 people.
After our castle tour we rode on and saw caves that were dug into the high mountains by some of the earliest settlers in the area almost 400,000 years ago. The skeleton of one of our neanderthal ancestors was found in 1868 and estimated to be over 70,000 years old … now that’s history! Halfway through each day we would stop in the woods or some small village and have a stunning gourmet lunch (with wine of course).
A little rain didn’t stop us as we had our Rain or Shine jackets tucked into our saddle bags.
We spent the night in the historic town of Sarlat and had time for a few hours of shopping before the next day’s ride. Outfit of the Day: Active Jacket, Active Vest and Sporty Jacket with Seamless Tights and Goode Henley.
In the Sarlat area, the yellow ochre of the cretaceous limestone is one of the main features in the buildings. The color of the stone adds its own ray of sunshine. We started the ride on a small trail next to the Dordogne River and where at one point the trail disappeared into the water, the horses didn’t mind, even though France had its most rain in 250 years and the rivers were full to the brim.
The ride also went through villages, over bridges and stunning meadows and forests. We seriously didn’t want this to end, talk about relaxing! The only thing that was in my brain at this time was how to get from one village to the next! Kids — what? Husband — who? Next Goode Rider Collection — what? Horse therapy at its finest!
Outfit of the Day: Cold morning! Vogue Jackets under Rain or Shine Jackets and Iconic Breeches.
Stéphane brought the horses to the castle in Saint Vincent de Cosse where we were staying and we just jumped on: I could get used to this …
We were the only guests staying at the Chateaux. Serious sister time is exactly what we wanted! Our sore muscles were finally better and we enjoyed some full gallops and long trots through the area. We rode up some really steep mountains: I don’t like heights, but the horses handled it perfectly. I didn’t think the countryside could get any prettier than it had already been, but it did. Six and a half hours in the saddle was starting to feel like a breeze! Seriously, pinch me again!
We spent the night in yet another chateaux in the village of Le Buisson de Cadouin. The horses were fenced in by the river, just outside our bedroom windows. We then enjoyed yet another fantastic meal before falling exhausted, but fat and happy, in bed. I’m afraid our breeches have gotten a bit too tight: thank God they have a lot of stretch!
Outfits of the day: Military Jacket, Iconic Breeches knee patch and full seat and the Rain and Shine Jackets came in handy again.
We have been really lucky with the weather. The forecast had been for rain the whole time but we really had only gotten sprinkled on a few times. This was my favorite ride of all the days: two main rivers, the Dordogne and the Vézère River and a network of secondary streams break up the varying landscape and after a long climb up the mountain, the views simply took our breath away! The area is also known for its many walnut farms.
And if there is one thing I like more than fashion and design, it’s architecture. And the architecture of the French countryside is absolutely stunning: the castles, the farmhouses, the churches, the bridges … I can’t get enough! I wish I could package it all up and bring it home to California.
We rode through the Perigord Forest and all of a sudden a small stone archway appeared. It is the medieval village of Limeuil, and it dates back from the 1400’s. In 1990 it was classified as “one of the most beautiful villages of France” and we understood why.
All you could hear was the clipity-clop of the horses’ hooves as we were riding through the narrow streets of the village. At one point the roof tops got so close that we had to push away from the roof tiles in order to not get our legs squashed. We found out our horses even did stairs … Wow! We have a newfound respect for these beautiful Arabians.
We ride through and come to another small village, Paunat, where we stop have yet another gastronomic lunch with champagne and wine. The sun popped out for a minute and the horses enjoyed a bit of a rest!
But NO! The riding part of our trip has come to an end! I struggle not to shed tears as I say good bye to our newfound horse friends and Stéphane. This has truly been a trip of a lifetime, something I will cherish for the rest of my life. What beats sisters, horses, castles, beautiful scenery, good food and wine all whilst dressed up in the fabulous fashions of Goode Rider (if we can say so ourselves — after all, the clothes did stand up to the six-plus hours a day in the saddle!).
Vive la France!
Outfit of the Day: non riding clothes! Agenda: wine tasting and drive back to Spain.
We stayed one extra night at the Chateaux Le Vieux Logis in Tremolat and squeezed in some wine tasting at the beautiful castle of Monbazillac. A beautiful end to a beautiful trip!
Cheers, The Goode Girls!
To schedule your own French riding trip:
Caval and Go
Tel: +33 (0)9 80 32 90 42 |
43 rue Royale – 77300 Fontainebleau
[email protected] | www.cavalngo.com
And to get in touch with Stéphane:
Ferme Équestre la Haute Yerle
24480 Alles sur Dordogne.