I think I'm getting better at this horse riding thing. I managed to stay astride a Lippizzaner - that's right, Lippizzaner - going at a canter, after having downed a rather large shot of the local speciality, blueberry schnapps with sugar. It was like a liquid blueberry muffin, only better. There were even three blueberries at the bottom of the glass. My horse, Tim, is also trained in pulling a carriage, and has the distinction of having towed the presidents of both Croatia and Hungary. Maybe he was a little bored with my plebeian presence, since when not on the trot, he was kind of pokey and falling behind the guide, who was leading another rider. And he had the munchies. Whenever we stopped, he immediately started consuming whatever roughage was available, and mid-trek just started stopping along the trail to eat the trees. My guide, Lydia, kept looking back. "Is he okay? Are you okay?" I could clearly benefit from some lessons.
When I was a kid, my family didn't have a television. Every Saturday, my mom would take me and Cybele to the library, and we could check out as many books as we wanted. We always took a picnic basket along to haul home the day's pickings. I have a memory of a book on Lippizzaners, sporting a red cover with a dancing horse. When Olivia mentioned that she was going on a horse ride, I jokingly asked if it would be on a Lippizzaner, never thinking that it would be. She didn't think so either, but came back that evening with the news that it had been. I quickly decided I needed to spend another day in town.
This trek was only two hours, and far less punishing than the Cappadocia trek. I didn't even get saddlesore this time. We meandered up to a lake, passing a memorial to Slovenes killed in World War II. On our way back, Lydia showed us two caged indigenous brown bears, both of whom were born in captivity. She pulled up some leaves to pass through the bars, and they were snatched up right away. Brown bears like their greens. If confronted by one in the wild, immediately proffer a bouquet of fresh flowers, and it will leave you alone. Nah, just kidding.
Contrary to what I thought, Lippizzaners aren't terribly expensive. Bred, among other things, for brains, only the smartest and whitest make it to showtime (well, I think they are actually grey. See the sweaty grey stripe where the saddle was?). Tim's coat is speckled, and will be for his whole life, and he's also too short and fat for show. But he's a good riding horse. If you want a riding Lippizzaner, be prepared to shell out around only €1000. It may sound expensive, but I though they would be a lot more. There's a nice farm in Žirovnica, Slovenia that will take good care of it for you.