Riding in a Winter Wonderland

Winter horse riding in Bulgaria. Bulgaria can get cold, real cold, but for horses (and humans) there’s a whole new world to discover…

Let’s be honest, Bulgaria is at its most beautiful in the summer months when the trees are lush and green, there’s mile upon mile of colourful crops, and the wild flowers take over the hills- all under endless powder-blue skies.

But, the winter season can also have its appeal. As the foliage dies back, old mountain tracks and forgotten ruins slowly reappear. 

It’s the time when the wild animals rarely seen in the summer- come down from the hills. Jackals, foxes and pine-martins are regularly seen loping through the streets and village fields, looking for food or seeking shelter. 

The winter months allow us to ride in the middle of the day, no early starts or late dinner-times.

And, once out on the mountain tracks, the scenery is has its own beauty- it’s just very different. While the greens might have vanished, (apart from the startlingly- emerald green of the winter-wheat), there’s a new palette of rusts, golds, browns and greys.

There’s mistletoe and oak-apples, lichen and moss. A steadily rising water-table  pours over wells and carves new streams, the tracks fill-up with huge grey puddles and the dogs enjoy rolling in acres of mud.

For their part, the horses love the cool. There’s no flies, no heat and everyone seems to love mud.  Mostly, we leave this on their thick woolly coats (apart from where the saddle and bridle sit). It not only insulates but  creates a protective layer for the minus temperatures at night. 

And, then when we’re done and the horses are fed- it’s back to the petchka (Bulgarian stove) and a steaming hot coffee… seriously what’s not to like?