A bay with an upright mane, she stood about fifteen hands and was considered a Cheval de Selle Francais throwback.
She had one passion in life: Big fences, the bigger, the better. She was the reason I’ve flown illicitly over some of the off-limits-to-me fences on the cross-country course in the Forest of Compiegne.
I loved riding her despite not sharing her passion for bolting over stratospherically high obstacles. I’m more of a flat rider. I learned to jump because trail-riding in France required the ability to jump a meter twenty. She didn’t bolt every time I rode her, either. No nearby fences of interesting height meant no bolting.
Two of the fences she chose to bolt over are permanently engraved in my memory. The first turned out to be the biggest on the course. There’s nothing quite like coming up to a very big fence on a rather small horse! I’d already learned that once she’d decided to jump something, there was no stopping her. Not me, not anyone else. I knew she wasn’t mean and that she wasn’t trying to get rid of me. I took one look at the monstrous fence, closed my eyes and went with the flow over a two-meter (6 feet 8 inches) fence! I didn’t come unstuck but once was quite enough which I think Volga understood. Sigh of relief, she never tried it again while I was up.
The other fence was actually an in-and-out. Huge logs piled one on top of each other, they were only about five feet high but they were very broad and VERY SOLID! And very scary to riders! Horses respected their solidity. They usually either flew over or said no. Volga flew over both. I ended up hugging her neck for dear life but I didn’t come off!
Volga was actually a very safe ride despite her predilection for big fences. You see, she knew how to jump and was good at it. Even if you were at a disadvantage, she never tried to get rid of you. She was a very good teacher and I am the better for having ridden her.