The horses of the ‘Franches’ are amongst the hardiest that exist.
In a large clearing in my forest, there takes place each year an impressive Franches-Montagnes horse race. It seems that it has been organised rather chaotically by the local clans, as even the sponsors haven’t yet found the way that leads to this remote spot!
On the starting line, one finds seasoned horse-riders, of all ages, riding bareback (without a saddle, like the scalp-collecting Indians of old...) on veritable monsters of animals!
The horses of the ‘Franches’ are amongst the hardiest that exist, in the image of their owners, who are themselves also forces of nature, bred to be tough by the cold and isolation of this still wild region of Switzerland.
They spit on the ground shamelessly, speak and laugh loudly and when they give you a friendly slap on the shoulder, with their huge hands, they dislocate your oesophagus! In the midst of them all, there is my fragile little daughter, aged 13, Séphora.
She is riding a friend’s horse, which lives in a fantastic, out-of-the-way place, where it has been raised in pretty much total freedom! It seemingly has no desire to follow the same direction as the race and, as in previous years, my baby comes in right at the end...
I am so sorry for her...
Followed by her mum, I push my way through the crowd to boost her morale as quickly as possible. Inside my head there is already a frantic search going on, scouring a thousand combinations of most appropriate words to say.
But as I am preparing to deliver the choicest words of consolation to her, she says to me in a disconcertingly natural way:
‘It’s O.K., Dad, I’ll have another go next year!’
We – my wife and I – are thrown by her genuine smile and impressed by this feisty little slip of a girl. Disappointment has no hold over this being. I am so proud to discover such a gemstone of perseverance and of optimism in my child!