Horse Whispering in Molise, Italy

Having just been introduced to my lovely companion for the next few days in Molise, I had a double take; did the guide really call her “Vivicon?” She was a foxy filly, with flowing, platinum blonde hair, surely she was a Christina or even a Sophia, but no she’d been given a name which made her sound like a mobile communications network!

An autumn rising sun in the Matese region of Molise, Italy on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-124_autumn_sunrise

Early to rise

Latin ladies was high maintenance”

There had been some discussion about my relative horse-riding experience, it seemed Vivicon, like many Latin women was high maintenance. I later asked about her temperament and was informed she was crazy, and to watch her ears. Apparently if she draws them right back, beware her mood has become particularly fiery and she may either kick or forcefully ‘remove’ me from her back. Being christened Vivicon was surely enough to drive anybody crazy, she deserved some sympathy and a little more understanding.

A mountain horse in the Matese hills of Molise, Italy  on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-20_horse

The lovely, high-spirited Vivicon

I spent the next three days trying to win her over, constant encouragement, lots of petting and bribes of handfuls of grass or hay. She wasn’t easily impressed however, rebuffing my attempts to gain her favour with nonchalant disregard, she enjoyed playing hard to get. Like any lady she also didn’t appreciate getting muddy or wet, avoiding soft mud or puddles with single-minded determination. If this meant jumping a ditch or dragging me through the thickest, thorniest bush so be it, better I required medical assistance than she got dirty or wet hooves.

The ancient city of Altilia in the Molise region of Italy on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-52_altilia_molise

The entrance to ancient Altilia

We did come to an understanding over the next few days however, I realised that allowing her to pick her own way over the often steep, and rough terrain over which we travelled was the best way forward. Once she was able to pick her own route, she looked after me, giving me a safe and relatively comfortable ride for the following days. I did fall off her, but this was due to an incorrectly fitted saddle, which slipped when travelling along a particularly muddy track. After that, I tightened the saddle myself.

Italian cowboys on the horses in the Matese region of Molise, in Italy on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-16_italian_cowboys

Italian cowboys

The countryside of Molise in autumn is spectacular, beautiful and dotted with quaint mountainside villages or the remains of ancient cities, which thrived long before the birth of the Roman Empire. Our route wound it’s way along steep, rocky paths, often joining ancestral routes of transhumance known as Tratturi, which the indigenous Samnites used to drive livestock for trading in nearby towns. crisscrossing the landscape, they offer perfect routes for visitors to travel on foot, bike or horse throughout the region.

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Kiara and friend

Our group consisted mainly of Italians, almost all spoke excellent English, an Israeli and myself, it was friendly group, which gelled quickly and made the trip especially enjoyable.

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Following the Tratturi

Three horse wranglers accompanied us, acting as guides. They looked after the horses and offered advice when needed, but couldn’t help feeling they played the strong, silent cowboy type a little too well. They barely spoke any English, often communicating entirely in monosyllables and almost never smiled, but they must each have possessed a wicked sense of humour. They did after all name my horse Vivicon, and left the saddle a little too loose one day, though when I bounced on the ground even this didn’t manage to raise a smile.

Horse riding in the Matese or Molise, Italy on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-116_horseriding_italy

Another more successful horse whisperer

riding into “Sleeping Hollow

The weather was generally kind, the sun shining most days, and sunscreen was more useful than waterproof clothing. One evening however, we entered a wood, shrouded in thick mist, it felt quite spooky, the drifting mist swirling around our horses legs like ethereal soup. It closed in around us, enveloping us in a gaseous cloak, very atmospheric. The wood seemed almost enchanted, feeling as if we were riding into “Sleeping Hollow”, while some of my images in the dim light actually looked headless. I’m blaming the low light, trotting horse, and not my poor technique of course.

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A rest stop with a view

Throughout the journey, there was the treat of the stunning backdrop of an Italian Fall. The full glory of autumn wasn’t yet displayed, that would probably take a few more weeks, but there was still plenty of colour, as the shades of the season gradually spread across the hills of Molise. Even in just a few days the changes were quite dramatic, but I can only imagine the spectacular display which full autumn would produce.

Autumn Horse riding in the Matese of Molise, Italy on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-13_autumn_horseriding

The colourful season

This ride requires three days in the saddle, which maybe an uncomfortable experience. Especially true when travelling over steep and rough terrain, but it is still suitable for novice riders. Though a thorough briefing from the guides on basic horse handling, and just sitting in a saddle would be useful before beginning the journey.

Autumn Horse riding into the mist of the Matese of Molise, Italy on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain_Mallory_2254_horses_mist

Italian Sleepy Hollow

I have to confess, at first the thought of three days riding a horse seemed slightly daunting, however it never occurred to me not to attend, and a good job too, the adventure was thoroughly enjoyable. I’d recommend a horse riding expedition in the Molise region, but if you give it a try, and get introduced to a horse named Vivicon, allow her a long leash, call her Sophia and don’t forget to watch her ears!

Horse trough in  the mist of the Matese of Molise, Italy on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography Iain Mallory-300-130_horse_trough

Thirsty steeds

Kolidur Travel Club, arranged this trip, but all opinions are my own, formed in consultation with Vivicon of course.

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A well-earned rest

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3 Responses to “Horse Whispering in Molise, Italy”

  1. Heather November 1, 2013 at 5:58 am #

    Riding horseback for three days, congratulations! I managed one day and my poor butt was pretty sore. :)
    It sounds like you were able to make friends with Vivicon by the end of the trip, despite having to impress her every step of the way. You can prepare your butt for the ride, but how do you prepare to impress a horse?
    Heather recently posted..Welcome to Halloween in Canada!

  2. Anna October 31, 2013 at 4:12 pm #

    What a lovely post! Molise is beautiful but not yet fully appreciated by Italy-lovers. Your photos convey very well the beauty of the autumn there!
    Anna recently posted..The Precious Saffron of Navelli, Abruzzo

  3. Sally October 31, 2013 at 3:17 am #

    Awww this looks wonderful. Horseback riding is one of those things I loved most about my childhood and consistently wish I could get back into. It’s such a freeing feeling!

    And you got some gorgeous scenery, to boot. Nice job. :)
    Sally recently posted..Featured Photograph: Farm Ladder

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Horse Whispering in Molise, Italy