Islanda in sella

English Version here.

Non eri affatto sicura di farcela. Il vento era forte, pioveva, avrebbero cancellato. Presto però ti sei trovata alla fattoria, a provare i copriabiti da pioggia del maneggio, di un bel colore arancio carico, casomai qualche amazzone si perdesse. Heida canticchia e ti aiuta, non richiesta, a indossare il tuo. E’ nettamente più asciutta di te, pur avendo almeno il doppio dei tuoi anni. Trafughi un paio di guanti da un mucchio informe, per un colpo di fortuna son di lusso. Saremo in venti e più, di sicuro non cancelleranno oggi. I cavalli fanno colazione, ti chiedono se sai andare. Con falsa modestia dici “intermediate” e ti assegnano Kleihthur, o almeno questa è la trascrizione del suo nome dall’islandese. Appena monti ne senti il sangue, ma scoprirai poi che non ama galoppare.

Cavalli a colazione

Cavalli a colazione

Aspetti fuori che tutti montino, il vento ti perfora un orecchio e la pioggia mista a neve sembra una tempesta di polvere ghiacciata. Si parte e rimani indietro, lasciando il posto vicino alla guida ai principianti, ma il tuo destriero non ce la fa. Passi avanti e vedi di tutto: staffe che scappano, briglie completamente sciolte, foto scattate al trotto. Ammiri l’Islanda, il Paese dove si può uscire in passeggiata la prima volta che sali a cavallo, dove i cavalli corrono con noncuranza su lastre di ghiaccio, evitando buche e pietre grandi quanto il tuo zaino. Ricordi Diablo, che al Parco di Monza è capace di inciampare nei suoi stessi zoccoli.

Si va e accade quello che non penseresti: i cavalli fanno la gara. Si divertono un mondo, attaccati gli uni agli altri con i principianti che non riescono a tenerli abbastanza, a cercare di superare il primo della fila, che scarta a destra e a sinistra per tenerli indietro, come una piccola mandria. Presto arriva la pausa, scendi e fai qualche foto a Kleihthur, ma quando ti volti, ti rendi conto che in Islanda l’arcobaleno vale doppio, e prende tutto il cielo.

Arcobaleno islandese

Arcobaleno islandese

Vi dividono in due gruppi, veloci contro lenti. Sei nel gruppo dei veloci, e finalmente si va. Kleihthur allunga il più possibile trotto e tolt, difficilmente arriva al galoppo. Ti ascolta molto, ma qualche volta preferisce pensarci su, per vedere cosa fa il gruppo. A te ispira fiducia, come le altre creature islandesi come lui che hai incontrato, capaci di fare cinque andature e di portare via, disperdendole nel vento, quanto di più pesante sedimentava nel tuo animo.

Kleihthur

Kleihthur

Presto si rientra, non piove più ma il vento è sempre forte. Non puoi trattenerti, e gli fai qualche altra foto. Aiuti a portarlo dentro, poi ti avvii verso il pranzo. Conversi piacevolmente con altre giovani, assai più in vacanza di te. Si mangia la minestra di verdura, che condisci con abbondante pane all’aglio, spalmato di burro: devi sempre fare la figura di quella che ha più fame degli altri. Come sempre il caffé abbonda: ne bevi litri, complice la luce del sole, che al mattino non arriva prima delle 9, e che ti rende piacevolmente sonnolenta.

Presto arrivano i cavalieri del pomeriggio; ci sono anche due dee accompagnate da un personaggio indecifrabile. Questa volta ti viene assegnata una creatura più rapida, ‘faster’, dicono, rispetto a Kleihthur. Ruby sembra essere il suo nome, forse ha a che vedere con il suo colore, non trattandosi di una cavallina. In effetti è molto frizzante, e appena di va ricomincia subito la gara, ma riesci a tenerlo bene. Questa volta il gruppo è piccolo, procede nettamente più spedito e si ferma in pausa sopra una piccola cascata.

Ruby

Ruby e la cascata

Vi dividono di nuovo, e vai con i veloci; questa volta siete in due con l’istruttrice, e andate davvero come pazze, sembra di volare mentre il vento fa di tutto per spingervi indietro. Passi per l’ennesima volta nel fiume, e ti sembra di sentire Eraclito, “Nello stesso fiume scendiamo e non scendiamo”. Di sicuro non sai quanto tempo sia passato, inizi a elaborare un piano per scomparire con la creatura prima di dover rientrare, sebbene la tenuta color arancio ti renda facilmente rintracciabile.

Arrivi al maneggio al galoppo sparato, e ricominci a esagerare con le foto; saluti anche altri amici, che non sono andati al lavoro oggi. Alcuni sanno quando stai per fare la foto e se ne vanno, altri si avvicinano curiosi, sperando che dalla macchina fotografica esca una carota. Li osservi divertita nel loro tempo libero in recinto, trascorso per lo più a farsi i dispetti; pensi che la vita di mandria renda anche il loro carattere più solido, rispetto ai nostri cavalli abituati a vivere soli, nel box, e al loro umore ombroso.

Indiana Jones e altri amici

Indiana Jones e altri amici

Thori ti accompagna in città, insieme agli ultimi rimasti. Avrà quasi l’età di tuo padre, e in qualcosa lo ricorda. Anche lui canticchia a vuoto, come la moglie, e ti spiega cosa c’era negli edifici di Reykjavik quand’era piccolo, prima che aprisse quel ristorante. Per qualche ragione, andava spesso in Italia, e ora ha trovato un Paese completamente cambiato. Tu pensi all’apparente serenità di chi ha faticato tutta la vita tra terra e cavalli e ancora non smette, ma poi scopri che si tratta di qualcuno che è andato all’università. E’ solo da noi che voglion farci credere che valga la pena di non studiare, che trovare lavoro non sia compatibile con l’accademia.

Non puoi spiegare come ti senti leggera. Sei ormai certa che anche il pensiero sia materia, in qualche caso materia corrosiva. Non capisci come i teneri amici pelosi abbiano potuto liberarti da tutta quella materia in eccesso che ti portavi dietro. Vorresti aver fatto qualcosa di altrettanto generoso per loro, che li facesse sentire altrettanto bene, ma non sai bene come. Rimani sempre stupita dalla generosità degli equini.

Tutte le foto della giornata si trovano qui.

Zanzana and a new friend, who loves to sing

Ontario and Abbanera

Ontario and Abbanera, CER Monza

Zanzana is happy about her life, but she really misses the feeling of doing something useful, beside the Survival Compromise and her normal family life. She needs something that can not be monetized, or lead necessarily to a pecuniary result.

She wants to help someone completely for free, someone she does not know, who does not expect anything from her and who can not do a lot for her as a reward; something outside the normal relations at work or personal life.

Moreover, she was looking for something undetermined, possibly  happening in the nature, related to horses, helpful for other people, and she found by chance the website of this association, CER Monza: as many other ones, it deals with hippotherapy, helping disabled people to spend some time with horses and to learn some basics of horse riding.

She had quite some experiences in volunteering, with foreign people in Milan, volunteering abroad or online translating international press or citizen media contributions, but she did not have the same feeling about those activities in all cases. In many situations she was happy to help, but was also bringing home a big burden and a feeling of inadequacy, as she could not really help those people as she was wishing to.

She never worked in her life with disabled, so she was not really sure about the outcome in this case, while she was afraid to feel uncomfortable, as probably most people can feel, at their first contacts with people with big physical problems.

The association was looking for volunteers, so she asked them to help once a month, as it is not possible for her to do more. Now she goes there regularly, and she is really looking forward to it when the time becomes closer. She probably witnessed some difficult situations there, but she never felt bad or thought about stopping. She is not sure to be helpful, as she just accompanies young women or men when they slowly ride inside the riding centre, talking with them, when this is possible, and following the instructors indications.

What she saw most of the times is people with a very strong will to pass a pleasant hour, to learn something new, to go over their limits, even if sometimes they can not even stand alone. This was a very big lesson for her: believe that you can accomplish something if you really want it, and that you can look at the world from a different point of view, and try to be happy, even in the greatest difficulty.

Last time one of the instructors asked her to accompany a woman, saying: “She really likes to communicate and to sing, may be you can find one of those partisan songs you know for her”. Zanzana accepted, and she was following the horse Marta was riding, but she was not really able to do what was requested. Zanzana is not able to define her conditions, but Marta can not speak, while being perfectly able to communicate her feelings. After the first two laps, the instructor said: “You did not understand”, and started singing a song in his dialect from Puglia, while Marta was laughing. Zanzana then completed the lesson, having a very nice time, singing and having a peculiar conversation with a new friend.

Zanzana has the impression we all conceive all the volunteering experiences in a selfish way, because at the end we get much more compared with what we are able to give; in any case, she also feels that these friends she spends some time with would be very happy to know that they are helping her, instead of the opposite.

Zanzana lost in a Foggy Park, looking for a Horse

Monza Park on a Foggy Sunday

Monza Park on a Foggy Sunday

Zanzana got up very early, to be on a Sunday, and left for her bycicle ride to the Park. The sun is not completely up and the streets are almost empty. Luckily the weather forecast was wrong, so it is going to be a nice day, while it was supposed to rain. It is anyway the time you start to feel the winter, in your nose and legs.

Zanzana was ready for her riding lesson. It has been ten days that she didn’t ride, for lack of time and abundance of work. She decides she will go for a ride in the park on another day, today she will be inside the riding centre. The Park is very foggy, and she has lost her way as always, even if this is something happening to her also in the middle of August.

Miguel is waiting for her.

Miguel's portrait

Miguel’s portrait.

He is a riding school horse. He is so beautiful, even if he is not Zanzana’s absolute favourite one, but they found a way to cooperate. She loves him a lot now, while at the beginning, when she rode him for the first time, he was going backwards instead of forward…She has a lot of work to do with him, convincing him to follow her intentions, but she thinks this is a good way to learn. Miguel is the type of horse who can perfectly ignore you the first time you meet him: he just pretends, or may be hopes, you are not there. After some time and a little confidence anyway, he becomes sweeter, so Zanzana is very happy now when she can accompany him from the box to the rod and viceversa. 🙂

Riding school horses are the true professionals of the whole matter (sometimes riding instructors too). They perfectly know what it is going to happen, so they help you anyway even if you make mistakes, and most of the times try to save energy for the next working hour. They work a lot, in busy times also 6 days a week for an indeterminate number of hours. They are anyway very happy to go out in the Park for the ride, so that they can try to eat from all the branches appearing on their way, all to the advantage of your arms, when you try to keep them away from the greenery.

Riding centres are strange environments in Zanzana’s opinion. It is not easy for her to find one she can feel comfortable in. Now she did, but she is also a little worried she is not going to learn a lot technically, while she will relax for sure. What she finds amazing is that, in most cases, she rides with other girls, just girls or young women. They are also the majority of the people who own horses at the riding center, and take care of their horses during the weekend. It was the same in Sweden and Iceland. She finds it extremely nice, and laughs thinking about men looking for new women to know in wrong places! She is also very happy that riding became a women thing, after centuries of deprivation!

This is a wonderful season to ride in the Park anyway. Trees change colour

Trees changing colour in the Park

Trees changing colour in the Park

Streets are so perfectly empty

Empty Streets in a Foggy Rainy Park

Empty Streets in a Foggy Rainy Park

Details become very evident, especially to people, like Zanzana, completely lost in their dreams.

Red tree in a Foggy Park

Red tree in a Foggy Park

Zanzana is back to horseback

Zanzana went to ride last week. She was used to go quite often some years ago, then she stopped, mostly for time and financial reasons.

Now she has started that again, despite her finances and time stocks did not improve a lot. 🙂

She has chosen to go to the same place where she was riding before: Centro Ippico Santa Maria alle Selve, in the middle of Monza Park. She was really needing to be in the nature for that, far away from the city. She also went to have a look to a couple of riding schools in Milan, but for the time being she did not really like the environment.

Now she tries to go to Monza a couple of times per month, by bycicle. Yes, that is quite far, around 40 km in total! But this helps her to satisfy her neeed to move as much as possible, given that her survival compromise keeps her stuck on a chair for many hours every day.

She is not sure about how she decided to restart. She probably rediscovered horses in Iceland, where they have a special horse breed, living  in semi-wild conditions.

What she was missing the most is the feeling you get when you spend some time with a horse: it is not necessary to ride, just to stay a little with him/her, may be taking care of him/her. This is a quality all domestic animals have, but she thinks the well being transmitted by a horse is incomparable. She also believes horses are symbol of freedom.

When she is far away from them for a while, she misses them a lot.