The next day is rainy. There will be no going to the beach, but Nana's horseback riding class is taking a little trip to the beach. The Sauvage decides will wait for them at the beach, in the car, so he can go take pictures of her.
When I was Nana's age, I actually owned a horse. I don't talk about my equestrian background often, but I rode dressage for years and even placed a few tri-state competitions. In the US children are most often taught to ride on horses or ponies, but in France children are taught to ride on shetland ponies making this experience, like almost everything else in France, fairly surreal.
We land at the beach, and we sit and wait. Finally the procession arrives. About 20 shetland ponies with riders of varying heights and ages-the eldest appearing to be 10 and the youngest looking about 4. They come down the beach and finally park all the ponies, and this is where things turned unexpected, the children dismounted and removed their riding clothes. Underneath they wore swimming trunk and suits. They jumped back on top of their horses and out they went into the ocean. Of course, by this time the Sauvage was out by his daughter-snapping pictures of her changing, walking up and down the surf to preserve every stage of her immersion on film. The horses, shockingly, went so deep into the water, only their heads and their riders were visible. The children and the horses paddled around out in the water-the whole time the parents standing out there snapping pictures and chatting with each other. I stayed by the car, as always, not quite part of the picture. My presence with them would have been awkward and certainly the Sauvage, despite his fluency in the language, didn't have any idea how to actually serve as a liason to ease my acceptance into French culture.
After an hour, the horses emerged and now the riders dismounted again-this time changing out of their swimming clothes and back into their riding clothes. This was a considerably more difficult and chaotic process, with children evading parental attempts to dry/dress them in order to prolong the ride. Taking adventage of the chaos, other children played tag, chatted, teased, and chased each other. Finally, the entire crew was redressed and mounted. They began walking back and the parents, after a few pleasantries, dispersed.