Some consider Arab horses not particularly
suitable for trail rides because they are too sensitive and
nervous, and too lightly built to carry adults and luggage.
I don't think that can be generalized. Certainly there are
Arabs who are quite “strenuous” and difficult to ride, as
well as weak ones and poorly built ones, which one cannot
manage even with a lot of educational effort. Today's
breeders often select according to the wrong criteria, and
many breeders don't understand anything about riding. The
results are often breeding products with exaggerated
expressions, extreme heads that often do not even reveal
whether they are a mare or a stallion, and jumping gaits
that nobody could or would ride.
I bought Khorsheet 8 years ago as a well-built, compact, universal riding horse and have ridden 20,000 km with her since then; During the entire time she needed the vet 3 times, except for vaccinations and dental checks. She is extremely pleasant and comfortable to ride. On endurance rides she is constant and always has great values, but she is never the fastest (or I don't like it that fast).
Just as she has kept the humor and glamor of the young horse, she is also calm, professional and clever as soon as the terrain becomes difficult. Always in the best posture and with a pleasant rhythm. I don't remember having to teach her that. Only riding with a bit didn't work at all for several months. But she was then ready for curb bit incredibly quickly. Our daughter rode her like since she was 8 years old. With the cavalry of Prussia she would have been a General's horse. If I 'll still alive and ride at age of 80, I only ride a horse like her.The most important thing for a trail riding horse (as for every good working horse) is that it runs in a balanced and wear-free manner. Many purebred horses cannot do this, often due to a lack of strength and appropriately trained muscles. Thighs are especially important. If the hips are narrow, there is no room for strong thighs underneath. Such horses always stay strong and are more suitable as endurance racehorses (under low weight), but not for long, quiet rides with luggage. Whether they stay healthy in the long run is unfortunately a matter of luck, even with good riders. As with most horses that carry well - Khorsheets weakest point are the rear pastern joints (it's not bad, and she hates any bandages on them).
I have a younger Egyptian bred mare as well, planned as my junior horse. For a while I planned about riding both alternately. But I decided against it: the 7-year-old is still too unridden and not calm enough. Where Khorsheet is slowly carrying the weight with her hindquarters, Muyah desperately pushes it forward. Adding her would quadruple the risk, but hardly increase potential performance. Because changing the hand and riding horse every 3-4 hours creates a maximum of a fifth more distance in my experience, and then you have sweaty saddlepads. I therefore decide that my best and most reliable horse need to carry me alone. She's never let me down in eight years, and I trust she won't this time either. When Khorsheet gets tired, which happens rarely, I notice. Muyah keeps walking until she gets too tired and therefore would probably need twice the amount of rest and food. But Khorsheet is still the better eater, has never left anything, and never had colic.
Two weeks before the ride, Khorsheet weighed 425
kg (measured after a 57 km raid). Until the ride she got some
extra feed to add, I would have preferred her at 450 kg. I myself weighed 86 kg (81
kg after the ride), Khorsheet may also have lost a
bit, but only a little. This is almost inevitable on long rides. Luggage weighed 22 kg
(without food), military saddle 9.5 kg, Woilach 2.5 kg. Link: equipment
Photo: Khorsheet on the 24th day of riding - the Redefin oats packed on top - 90 km to the sea
On the long way it is hardly possible to feed as much as the horse consumes. On 20 of the 27 riding days I had organized grain in the evenings in the overnight quarters or during the day on the way. 7 of the 27 days I either had no concentrate or had to make do with the reserve of the previous day. The approach “ 1 kg of oats per riding hour“ (or other grain) corresponding to about 11.5 MJ of energy seems to me a good rule of thumb. My mare could eat 6-7 kg of good oats per day, a little more with high loads and excellent oat quality. In many cases, however, this was not available, and we had to make do with whatever was available, like squeezed oats, other grain, or low-energy muesli. In areas without a lot of cereal cultivation and hardly any horses, I always bought oatmeal when I went buying food, and fed some of it straight away (only the good branded flakes, which are less floury and have more "bite", horses don't like the others). Whenever I got whole oats somewhere, I always took a break to feed 1.5-2 kg.Then I took a full sack with me and fed 4-4.5 kg of it in the evening and the next morning, depending on the quality of the pasture at the overnight place. With good pasture, I was able to keep some reserve for the next riding day so that I didn't have to organize concentrated feed every day. Then the feed of around 2 kg for the evening and morning was already scarce, and good grass was even more important. I attached great importance to this when choosing where to stay overnight (and you don't always get that when you're out and about in dry summers). Horses that march for days not only need additional feed, but also better grass than locals who mostly stand around. Not everyone understands that. Therefore I cannot agree with those who claim that the most important thing for the hiker is enough good grass. It is important, but it isn't all. In northern Germany I had Khorsheet alternately in pit stalls and on private and garden properties with fat clover grass. On the dried up pastures she would kept hungry. But I know horses very well that cannot tolerate such grass at all.
Energy-saving ridestyle was important as well. I seldom rode at a walk for long instead of leading it at the reins. A well-conditioned pure- or half-blooded horse consumes the same amount of energy per km when walking or at a steady trot on the flat and does not work up a sweat, often even less when trotting and is less bothered by insects. At a trot it is also sooner finished with the daily output and then has more time to eat and rest! Of course, the luggage must then be strapped so tightly that it does not bother horse or rider. The same applies to ponies that are not too heavy; 25 years ago I rode with my Iceland pony - after initial training for endurance rides - the same daily performances as today with the Arabs and also trotted a lot. And after I walked frequently for 10 hours at first, what really gets to the kidneys, I say today "7 hours is enough" (as a daily average pure riding time on a ride longer than 3-4 days). You can take a lot of breaks, but only where there is good food for the horses. For beginners, and those who have to learn to organize their luggage so that it does not get in the way of higher gaits, five hours are enough.
After riding 1,092 km in 27 days, the choice and methodology were confirmed. The initially somewhat sporty stages (42-43 km daily average) calmed down and shortened (from 7:05 hours of riding time average per day to 5:45 hours). This is probably the method to ride even longer rides (1,000 miles and more). I never favorized rest days when the organism is set up for constant movement and high feed intake. Instead I prefer to keep moving and ride a little shorter if there is excellent accommodation, or weather is extremely bad.
The idea for the ride developed in 2016, reading about Endurance ride
"Hamburg-Munich" (1976) in the rare-to-find book
of that participant Ursula Schmitt . These riders had to go west around the Harz, through the Salzgitter area, and
many complaints were about hard roads and lots of asphalt.
You could not ride further east back then due to the barbed
wire border with the DDR. It should be much more pleasant
today some more miles more eastwards, I thought to myself.
At first, my idea was to make the route like an endurance ride to be worked out, with best footing and daily distances of 60 to a maximum of 70 KM. On the Alb-Ritt I experienced that my mare can do this for several days (without luggage) and stay in great shape or even gain weight. Ridden at tempo 6 (minutes per km) - the better paths at a light trot, the worse ones leading at the walk. 6-7 hours of riding time a day so there is enough time to eat and rest left. I think almost every good horse can achieve that. Not too heavy, healthy, trained, slim, fit rider, etc ... provided.
Instead of north to south, I wanted to ride south to north. And then the idea: Instead of going to the heath south of Hamburg, the route wouldn't be much longer when to cross the river Elbe, ride along the Schaalsee, to the Baltic Sea (Luebeck Bay) ... " From the Alps down to the sea ” .
I divided the route into 16 daily stages and measured the initial planning exactly with 988.6 km. In my opinion, both the Hamburg-Munich ride and the long "Trabweg West" (1990) suffered from uneven and sometimes excessively long daily stages, dictated by the lack of stations for the mass of excort vehicles. This resulted in undue effort and failure. Many participants turned the ride into a road race, be it out of necessity (designated route uncontrolled and impossible to prepare) or misguided ambition. None of the favorites, all of them experienced multi-day riders, even came close to making it, a blatant outsider won. The result of the long trot was sporty and devastating - so much that for 30 (until present) years no one found the courage to repeat a similar long event.
On the other hand, I still like the idea of
riding the route in 16 days. I think what my horse did with luggage in 26 days - the trip to
Redefin was an extra day - many good horses (beside my own) could do this in 16
days without luggage. But a significant lower
number in 12 or 14 days.
From the foot of the Alps down to the sea, once across, or rather lengthways through Germany, away from the major traffic axes, through sparsely populated areas and large forest areas. That was the master plan.
But how do you plan something like this in detail ? This is where the wheat is separated from the chaff. Trail riding quarters? You can look for how many hundred kilometers they are completely missing. Very simple-minded people take Google or a routing program and start walking as the crow flies (in the past used to take a map, ruler and pencil). You will come across so many obstacles on the way that you don't need 16 days, not even 27, but at least 47. Afterwards you will have a lot to tell that amuses your audience, but was not very amusing in direct experience. And whether the horses benefited from it is another matter entirely ...
The idea with the school atlas map is not entirely wrong, at least to start with. The next thing you have to do is look at the river valleys. In urban, industrial and commercial areas, large wind and solar parks, large military training areas (if still in operation, you can secretly get through the others in this country), traffic junctions: all of this has to be arched. You then have to zoom in more and more. Often you plan a part of 30 miles and then realize: No, it won't be a nice route. 20 miles west or east and it might run smoother. And start again.
After 27 days of riding I say: I came through a sparsely populated Germany in a way that I never believed, that something so beautiful still exists - full of undisturbed nature, almost without large roads. I only saw larger settlements when I rode into them - every four days - to buy foodstuff. The mountains of southern Germany, endless forests, the Danube, fifteen feet high riding on dams in a fresh wind. I relived a northern Germany as I knew it from my childhood 50 years ago, in a tin-shell child bike seat, behind the handlebars in front of my grandfather, driving over sand paths, through the Venn, singing songs together. This time there were the pricked ears of the beloved horse in front of me, in the canter over solid, endless sandy paths. Pine forests, endless fields, avenues, and above the blue sky with bushy white clouds. Nothing bothered. It was perfect.
The longest section of the route was in Bavaria, then two days through Thuringia, 4-5 days through Saxony-Anhalt, just under a day in Lower Saxony, and 3 days in Mecklenburg-Pomerania.
We sidestepped the Munich area through the Ebersberger Forest. The area around Kulmbach, as well as the crinkled heights of the Franconian Jura, Franconian Forest, as far as they do not follow our riding direction from south to north. Main, Wilde Rodach and Rennsteig indicate the point where the German main watershed (710 m above sea level) is the easiest to climb. The Autobahn 9 occupies the geographically favorable main altitude, and leaded me to ride four days west of it, always out of hearing and sight, varied over small hills with a constant change of field and forest, crossing the Saxon Saale twice, to the Hermsdorfer Kreuz, where I got very close to her.
The Thuringian flat agrarian field was also to be avoided, namely via Dorndorf, Camburg and Eckartsberga. The firm feel of a gate between northern and southern Germany. Sharply along the eastern foothills of the Harz Mountains - Quedlinburg remains to the west - and down to the Magdeburger Börde. From here the route is flat until to the small dune hills of the Altmark. Over them, and through the forest area of the Göhrde, it goes to the Elbe, and along the Schaalsee to the Baltic Sea.
Since you have to split up large tasks until they become small and manageable, I created several routes that I worked on. In the end I made four quarters of about 250 KM each: Degernpoint, Abusinia, Holzberg, Plothen, Memleben, Großgermersleben, Solpke, Hohenzethen - names like lighthouses, in the end you almost believe that you can now ride without a map because you have everything in your head. I took a few small modifications and alternatives with me and wanted to make spontaneous decisions when it was the time to decide. At some point I realize that the Redefin State Stud is close to the route (one extra day). That you can't get further in a north-westerly direction from there, because there are two military training areas and the Bundesbahn has dismantled all old level crossings over the Hamburg - Berlin rapid train railway, which only the latest maps show, made extra effort and should only be mentioned here as an example. Another classic was, one ferry (across Danubia river) was closed between initial planning and start.
I planned the route on the PC, with the tour
webportal gpsies (discontinued in January 2020),
Openstreetmap maps and Google satellite images on the one
hand, as well as with the MOBAC program, and topographic
maps from around 2009 and the official, freely available and
current topographic maps of Bavaria and Thuringia on the
other hand. From MOBAC I also cut the
maps for my navigation app LOCUS and formatted them (as
sqlite-db) . About 2 GB of memory, the
raster maps are not bigger. A replacement SD card is of
course also included.
For the first time, I want to ride a ride longer than five days with a GPS smartphone instead of paper maps: 1000 km of planned route in topographical maps, that would make a terrible pile of papers. But of course I want to have my usual maps (Topo Map 1:25,000) virtually with me, so no Garmin GPS, but smartphone (raster maps). The problem with their battery performance in GPS operation. My previous devices only managed 5-6 hours with GPS, my used 8 “tablet (actually predestined for it) even less now. A few weeks before the ride, I buy an extra powerful new cell phone, a Motorola G7 Power with a 5 Ah battery. It's a bit bigger than my older ones and lasts 1.5-2 riding days on one battery charge. To recharge on the go, I tried to use a 28 W solar charger and a power pack - plus most importantly a quick charger for the socket. It turns out that sockets are absolutely necessary every 2-3 days. For safety - and after corresponding disappointments on the 3-day trial ride - I took all the riding stages with me (with the exception of the detour to Redefin), printed out in multiple columns as a pdf: 18 double-sided pages of paper-like waterproof polyester film (120 µm). But with very little extra for errors and rescheduling. After this "backup" I ride for two full days because lack of electricity and the power pack gives up the ghost. After the ride, the mobile phone's quick charge function ceased works. I send it in and get it back unrepaired: Allegedly it has water damage - it was on once during a thunderstorm ... (Smartphone is still in use 18 months later)
The final planning
25 days (Redefin extra, instead of No. 22, plus 1 day), 999.3 km
Start Münchner Hütte (Spitzingsee)
1. Maxlmühle, Mangfalltal (38))
2. Rasthaus B 12 (47)
3. Thenner Weiher (39)
4. Niederhinzinger winter paradise (39.5)
5. Abusina Eining Roman fort (38)
6. Holzberg Tiefenhüll (38)
7. Trautmannshofen (41.5)
8. Siglitzberg (38)
9. Plankenfels (45)
10. Oberdornlach (40)
11. Langenbach, Sweden Guard (40)
12. Plothen-Stockert (44)
13. Serba (41)
14. Eckartsberga, Holländermühle (34)
15. Allstedt special airfield (40)
16. Valley Meadows One, Golden Bridge (37)
17. Kroppenstedt (44)
18. Kuhlager Bebertal (40)
19. Solpke (38.5)
20. Hohenböddenstedt (44)
21. Hohenzethen (43)
22. Brahlstorf (45)
23. Knese, Dutzow, Gutshof ruin (43)
24. Dassow (34)
Redewisch sea car park, Klützer Winkel (27)
download as .gpx
Among my four or five German M25 military saddles I look for the softest pads and attach them to Khorsheets saddle (size 2) a week before the ride. It's not her everyday saddle because it easily rubs off the hair on the heels of my short-backed horses. To prevent this as much as possible, I put a reindeer skin underneath. This is a little difficult to dry out on the way, but in summer it is actually possible if weather is dry. It's a bit older (the reindeer skins last at best for a year of regular riding).
After looking through my Woilach, shortly before the ride, I buy a "new" one online, type Bundeswehr, slightly larger than my last, well-used Swiss Woilach, and the condition of the material is still excellent, despite the patch from 1964 (i.e. older than me).
As saddlebags, I unfasten the not-so-large panniers at the back like before , and the lighter Hussar front panniers that were auctioned on ebay a few years ago are supposed to have their first continuous use. To attach them to the army saddle 25 I did some leather working to fix packing straps so that they sit tight without wobbling. 3 weeks ago they had passed their first practical test on Muyah (three-day ride in the Rheingauaunus) without attracting negative attention.
I think for a long time whether I should take a breastplate with me, but decide against it, because Khorsheet is in the best condition, has a good belly, no saddle slips back and I don't want to ride her thin. It is more likely to slide forward. The tail strap therefore seems more important to me, since it only goes uphill for about 3 hours on the first day, where I plan to lead, but then it tends to go downhill for 4 weeks - and saddles sliding on the shoulders are very uncomfortable, especially with luggage, and cause chafing behind the elbows (belt position). I take our Biothane tail strap (with a small faux fur protector for the hip hump). Because I always oil the tail beet a little on the way and carefully make sure that it is the right length, there are no problems with it.
Unlike on previous long rides I take this year no
high rope, but the first time a trail riding paddock with foldable bars. Although she stands quite
well with the rope and does not tend to panic, when she is
free she runs around more, and my fear is that she is
standing around too much out of worry about stepping on the
rope and don't eat well. I just feel like she doesn't like
the rope. She is a very hungry pony in general, but as with
all Arabs, minor ailments cause her to stop eating, and that
would be extremely unfavorable on such a long ride.
Especially for this ride I ordered a lighter and smaller mobile fence energizer (my third in 30 years) than we normally use on our trips, a Patura P10, which has also proven itself well and only needs 2 mono cell batteries. I have 7 dismountable rods with me, and only want to stretch 1 band (10 mm), almost 80 meters, because this is sufficient for her, without gate handles. Paddock equipment and equipment take up a lot of space: one of the two front panniers.
My old feed bag has many holes after 30 years of service, and it was actually always too fat and too short. It will be replaced by a new narrow one (von Zölzer, size SL).
I also leave away the halter in favor of
Khorsheets nice woolen neck strap. Halters underneath and
head pieces that are too thick are an imposition for horses
in hot summer and cause chafing on the face. Most of the
time I don't need to tie her up because Khorsheet never runs
away from where she has to eat, but devour every blade of
grass moving around in semicircles. If she ever gets
frightened by something that rarely happens, she jumps 3
meters and then stops and looks.
Just in case, a Fiskars saw (30 cm).
Little things: titanium spoon and fork instead of the usual Wehrmacht cutlery (saves 100 g). Otherwise knife, compass, GPS smartphone, harmonica on the man. Hip bag with cash, 24 Ah power bank, charging cables and a Lumix camera with Leica zoom. However, the pictures are not much better than the cell phone pictures.
A folded 28 W solar charging module for the
smartphone fits under the "rider bag" ( all pure fantasy, these
details about charging power ).
Otherwise just the usual equipment that I had with me on all longer rides since 1996 and 1988. As riding breeches I wore the Eurostar corduroy pants because all my Pikeur were already too used. After 4 weeks it has held up quite usable, but now you can also see the traces on it.
On the Saturday before start, I renew
Khorsheets' shoes. 1000 km planned route, plus some extra
ways - mainly to find places to stay overnight, buying oats
and foodstuff - I reckon a total of almost 1100 km.
Khorsheets normal shoes (St. Croix eventer) last about 1000
km. Of the 14 total sets (since 2012) she hasn't lost a
single one. So I don't have to “experiment” and can use our
“normal” fittings, with two side caps and videa pins in the
rear - almost completely sunk because I've come away from
them with her in recent years. But now they are usefull for
durability and safety (slow riding speed). My tools can
completely remain at home for weight reasons, except a
handfull of horseshoe nails. If in Northern Germany they
will be worn out, I have to look for a blacksmith and, if
necessary, give it a day. Research in advance on the
Internet does not yield any suitable addresses, except for
the blacksmith from the Redefin State Stud. - In the end,
they held up perfectly and could be used at home for two
weeks after the ride, a total of 1177 km. Only the toes were
very thin. As a precaution, I hadn't wanted to shorten her -
quite large - hooves as much as usual, and I hadn't pointed
toes either. If I had welded on some protection on the toe,
which is often recommended for very long rides, the fitting
might have been "nicer", but not so the horses joints
This shows two things: her easy way of going, which is gentle on the shoes and joints, and the very good footing on our route.
Because all of her
shoes held in place well with 4 nails I will do them
this way again. On the last day, however, I still get sleeves,
and on the morning of the start I add a 5th + 6th nail
in them, probably
Because all of her shoes held in place well with 4 nails I will do them this way again. On the last day, however, I still get sleeves, and on the morning of the start I add a 5th + 6th nail in them, probably unnecessary.
Breakfast with the young house master, I have to force him some money. After all, they run a professional horse business. He ordered pizza and spent beer last night. The horse shouldn't stand for free either, and I also take a daily ration of oats with me. Unfortunately, I forget to pack the mosquito spray (0.5l bottle) - sometimes it is difficult to keep everything together in confusing stables. Due to breakfast talk, departure at 9:10 am. The morning weather is gray and rain clouds are pouring in the sky. But it's warm, I can still ride in my T-shirt, the raincoat stays strapped to the saddle.
Today we want to go from the Main across the main top of the Franconian Forest; it's going to be a tough day. First ascent towards Veitlahm; the paths are rather firm with a few unmotivated riding bans, all only signposted in one direction and without usable alternatives. First break 10: 40-55 on a meadow between Kirchleus and Unterdornlach, 8 km, lots of asphalt.
Finally better ways where you can trot. Historical roads used to run over the wide ridge, there are two "high roads" on my map. But we try to take a slightly shorter, but calmer path that has one more ascent. We are approaching Losau, main village below the ridge, the road layout and the transition have been changed somewhat, making crossings more difficult for riders. But at least there are no fences around. At 12:15 I stop at the well, let the horse eat a few straws, keep an eye out for an inn somewhere, but can't find anything. The village is dead quiet except for a couple of yapping dogs. Straight ahead, steep ascent to the Franconian Forest, good soil for Khorsheet, I let myself be pulled by the tail (tailing). Instead of the mixed forest in the valleys further up, now mountain pine forest.
12: 50-13: 40 second break at a clover meadow east of Oberehesberg. Now the sun is coming out. It continues well along the height. Through the Kleinweiler Haid, small meadows, paddocks and two (arabian looking) horses. Leading down into the Rodachtal, hard paths. I take the “safe” and longer main path down into the valley so as not to stand on a footbridge that is impassable for horses at the end of the steeply downhill path, right in front of the Wilder Rodach. In the valley there is a cycling and walking path, at first very secluded, with numerous water stagnations from the time of the raftsmen, and actually several wobbly wooden footbridges that, thank God, we don't have to cross. Then the noisy main road to Hof runs right next to it. We have to go over it and it'll be steep again soon.
Second climb today, tailing again . I rarely do this, but today because of the steepness of the terrain three times. Almost only hard-surfaced or washed-out rocky paths. Mittelschnaid, village with old "summer resort" - tourist houses. At the fire station next to the church I see a tap, water the horse and fill up my bottle.
16: 20-40 third break in the forest, on a small meadow. Already 36.8 km according to GPS, 715m, highest point beyond the Alps!
Out of the forest above Geroldsgrün the longed-for plateau, some holiday homes and former farms. Soaked again and filled the water bag for this evening in front of the Geroldsreuth holiday complex on a small forest stream that babbles along the path.
At 17:40 we finish at a striking lookout, the Frankenwarte, after 42 km and 7:05 hours of riding time.
I have to do a little crafting lesson in the
afternoon sun and sew the middle connection of the front
I take Khorsheet back to the nearby hamlet to have water for
here no inn, the place is also much too small. Back at the outlook, I cook
my evening meal,
lentil stew. The place is romantic, the
evening sun casts long shadows, the grass is rather barren
and reminiscent of sheep heather, but Khorsheet, the
undemanding one, still looks happy and satisfied, so am I. We're about 4 km behind schedule.
At 7:55 I'm off. The weather is overcast, still warm.
Schwedenwache was actually the stage planned for
yesterday evening, but it is a barren, fenced cattle pasture
on a dry, drafty height. We had it much better and
more romantic at the Frankenwarte. The farmer drives along
with the tractor. We head towards the former zone border, ride over
meadow paths, bypass three high wind turbines to the east. Good forest paths and a few
secluded forest meadows, before it goes on gravel (main road
of the forest) into an intermediate valley - Thuringian Muschwitz, federal state border and an
older sign “ Green Belt“, 9:05, 9 km. The signs have been placed on the
fixed paths everywhere, a continuous connection path (as the
"belt" suggests) does not exist or no longer exists. It's a
recent way; the historical maps show no transition here.
Next we come to the Rennsteig (famous historical road and
high altitude hiking trail), which we only cross today.
At the top we bypass Helmsgrün: Nice paths; on a meadow after 15 km first break (9: 45-9: 55), and before Remptendorf again from 11: 15-25 (26.2 km). Through the two villages of Heinersdorf and Eliasbrunn: very beautiful slate-roofed houses, probably more expensive than the small farmers used to have. Then over a single-track railway line at the former, completely dismantled station between two villages, now no longer a real transition, and over the adjoining former military training area: no signs, apparently ammunition-free area - which is unfortunately not the case everywhere - and further through the heather along the High voltage lines.
I hurried because there is a small supermarket in Remptendorf that closes at 12:30. There is a nice meadow next door for Khorsheet, where we are going to lunch (11: 50-13: 00), especially since we have already ridden 28 km. The horse gets freshly bought oatmeal and apples, I have a measure of locally brewed, ice-cold beer, learn all stories of horse farms in the area from curious villagers, and we have good chat.
The way to Karolinenfield is a construction site, then asphalt, then gravel, through the forest for a short stretch. There an inn (probably a day of rest) and a lot of cows, in total tons of gravel. Because its really sucks, and not a centimeter of a verge has been left, we take way across an eroded pasture: lifted one stake, led the horse under it, and trampled the stake again. That's how it works in Thuringia, no problem at all. Another reason for sturdy footwear when riding.
Down to the Saale in Wahlsburg, then steeply uphill, street. Past all kinds of "Datschen" from the GDR era, an old villa is now a "cat's hotel" ... break in Essbach, across from the large cooperative, 38 km, 14: 40-15: 00. Huge tractors come and go, who would have time to bring water or feed to a horse? One place further, in Volkmannsdorf the horse watered (farm with Haflingers).
After 45.7 km at the Plothenbach 16: 15-30, grass again, the fifth break today. We are obviously dawdling now, drawing on the lead we rode out in the morning, because I don't want to ride any further than our stage location planned for today, then I would have to go 7 km further, and that throws everything upside down for the following days. But there is also no point in arriving at 3:00 p.m., because then nobody is there to ask for accommodation.
In the village I see a couple of small horses in
the pasture. When asked in a large four-sided courtyard, I
quickly hear who they belong to, and a recreational rider
offers a village meadow surrounded by a picket fence with
short, good grass for Khorsheet. She also has some muesli
for the horse, because after yesterday's bivouac, my stock
of feed is empty. Where there are so many fish ponds here, I
eat fish in a nearby restaurant, but not carp but pikeperch.
A little further away is a riding facility that seems to
belong to a farrier. But my horse is fine here and we don't
have to detour do. The
lady and her boyfriend come by with a bottle of wine, and we
cheer for the horses and a long life in the sunset. I don't want to make any
more trouble than necessary and spend the night with the
horse in the meadow.
I want to leave some money for meadow, horse muesli and some fly remedy (small spray bottle), but the lady firmly refuses to accept anything. So I just thank kindly.
At 7:35 am I leave.
We want to go north on the watershed between Saale and Weißer Elster, the Autobahn 9 also cross over this height. We have ridden west of her since Betzenstein on the Franconian Jura, and it should stay that way today, but we are closer. Often in sight but hardly within earshot.
Beautiful paths lead between the ponds, but they
end in an old windbreak. I lead through the branches, then a
couple of beautiful meadows (with many hunters seats) and
over a disused railway line with half-rotted wooden
sleepers. No real way through to the north. It gets better
with the L1077. Before Linda paddocks with many horses at
the windmill. Solid paths in the forest that are reasonably
easy to trot. On a large meadow with cattle paddocks, a nice
rest area with a “horse parking lot”: First break after 10.7
km from 9: 10-40.
At Traun I leave the forest height. Beautiful view down to the Orlatal and the silver ribbon of the A9 2 km away
The road down into the Orlatal, from Traun to Kopitzsch I lead 3 km. Shortly before the village I met a baker's car, which I stopped waving arms: two apple pieces for me and a bread for Khorsheet.
I can trot up the next hill again. Good up to the forest, then over a short stretch of the track is overgrown and difficult to find. Then good ways again.
On a slightly overgrown meadow at the Jägerdreieck (20.2 km) second break from 11: 25-45. A while longer along the forest height, then into the valley near Ottendorf, and opposite 100 m of altitude, the Selig steep up (leaded). At the height of a long Canter over beautiful stubble fields. Khorsheet is not strained from the hills and hardly sweats. Nonetheless, a break on a beautiful meadow just before heading back into the forest - 12: 45-13: 30 (27.8 km).
Passing under the A4 near between Teufelstal-bridge and Hermsdorfer Kreuz. The "new" bridge is not worth a detour to me. In 1997 I rode in this valley with Ligeira and Natascha, saw the "historical" bridge from 1938, and stayed in the neighboring village. The path now ridden instead is certainly better and less noisy.
Schleifreisen is the next place: Incredibly steep local streets made of very smooth, slippery cobblestones. The way into the valley confuses me a bit, I look for it in the wrong direction and wonder why there are houses. Every now and then you have a real "card blackout". I guide you through the whole place up to the Zeitzgrund. There hard paths with lots of tunnels, probably from the Janismühle horse company.
In a dense wooded area west of the A9, only the gravel roads can be used. Much unprocessed windbreak lies around. At the "Drei Grauen Ziegenböcken" (three gray billy goats) busy, dangerous (narrow) street, but all the roads around are overgrown. The restaurant - historical street inn - has, as can be read, closed and is apparently being renovated. The grass stands meters high on the surrounding meadows. Narrow forest path under the power line to Serba, it will probably be free. I still have to saw down a transverse jaw and let Khorsheet eat, 15: 55-16: 25, 42.1 km, the fourth break for today.
In the first place north of the Jenaer Woodland, I
finish according to plan for today. According to the map, the
place appears to be shaped by small farmers, and that's how
it is. In the
first courtyard I ask for accommodation, because I see
paddock panels on the nearby meadow. I am told that these are
for cows, not horses. The neighbor has two cows and a couple of sheep
and gives me his summer house with a meadow to sleep over. A nice, hospitable guy - dinner in the nearby village inn, good and cheap,
only 12 Euros including two small glasses of beer!
The garden shed even has electricity to charge the power bank! Early in the morning - I am freshly shaved and ready to go - the host comes by with fresh rolls. He still has a bit of forest that he wants to go out into this morning to make firewood. Khorsheet is full and is given the rest of the muesli in the feed sack. - Start 8:30
Old local connection route to Silberthal and Droschka. Very beautiful paths and great views of the Kesselberg (parking lot / parking space with meadow) and through the field over the Goldberg. We trot.
Then very hard paths in the forest to the Tautenburg observatory, where we probably turned a path too early. Large gatherings of hunters are out and about with SUVs and pickups. We turn onto a slightly overgrown path, after 12.6 km ridden we take the first break of 10.20-35 at the gate beech in the forest. The paths are better now, and on a beautiful unpaved path (partly with hoof marks) you go through sheep meadows down into the Saale valley to Dorndorf.
In the small town I have to make a 600 m detour. The old, narrow steel arch bridge ( Carl-Alexander-Brücke from 1892 ), over which I rode 22 years ago, and over which all traffic rolled at that time, is closed for the purpose of reconditioning. We have to wait to the new bridge and in front of the rails and let a regional train pass. A steep path up out of the village; I take a photo with Dornburg Castle in the background in the same place as in 1997, and Khorsheetchen even stands in the same position as my good, unforgettable Ligeira then ago ..
Good paths in the field; second break on a grass
path in front of Hirschroda 20.3 km 11: 55-12: 20. Khorsheet
is no longer hungry.
In the damned next village, a local road was unbelievably built up and fenced off, a whole inner town block turned into a dead end, so I made a 600 m detour in the town on sloping, poor, smooth pavement.
The following path over the height and through the wind turbine area is better to ride than I exspected. After several days I have to go buying foodstuff again, make a short detour to Bad Sulza and cross the train at the entrance to Darnstedt. Well-maintained cycle path in the valley all the way to the rural market in the valley meadows. I let Khorsheet graze freely, she walks a few dozen meters to the nearby Ilm while I'm in the market because she is apparently thirsty. But, as I noticed when approaching, there is no way down. A few children are amazed that she is running around freely and take care of her. Third break from 13: 45-14: 25 30.5 km
The houses on the exit road looking empty so noone to ask for water. Over the next height beautiful paths, trot and canter to the next place. I am leading across the clanking pavement when a stout craftsman comes out of a courtyard. I kindly ask for water, and he asks back if my mount is a purebred Arabian. He had some too, and even drove them in front of the carriage. Now he has Haflingers for his daughter. They are in the neighboring yard. I get water and also black oats (which are quite fuzzy). Everything is now ready for today's bivouac. I just want to ride another 4 km. A couple of older people show me the way to the former LPG on the outskirts. Then it goes to the vantage point Vier Linden, which is beautifully located in the middle of dry sheep pastures (fourth break 16: 05-25) where I let my horse eat again. The grass here is too barren for an overnight stay. The "Battle of Jena and Auerstedt" took place here, and ended catastrophically for the Prussians. Napoleon simply had the better trained officers.
The Holländermühle in Eckartsberga is only half of an hour away and I reach it at 16:55 after 6:50 a calculated riding time and 38.6 km. This is the end of the second quarter of my route map, and we have made it half the route, exactly as planned.
The grass around the mill and the small seating area is so dry that Khorsheet needs an extra 15 liters of water, which I get from the empty neighboring house with the watering can.
In 1997 I was here before, at that time I had to bring my 4-year-old pack horse Natascha home from here because she was lame at the rear. The mill's restorer, blacksmith Peter Hähnert, explained the design and construction to me at the time. I have learned that he has not been among the living for several years. The steel wheel of the mill has meanwhile been dismantled. It was lost but has since appeared again, I hear.
Suddenly small jeeps and SUVs roll in from all
directions, and men and women dressed in green loden get out
of them. The hunting horn blowers from Hegering come
together and serenade the visitors of the mill: an elderly
man with a braid (who raves about old GDR times and cuts a
slice of the herb bread he has just bought), his
granddaughter and me. Khorsheet stands next to it, grazing
and watching the goings-on with pricked ears, apparently
“Isn't it shy when we start blowing?” Ask the hunters - “If the right signals come out, then it will stand at attention” is my answer, and that's how it is. We keep a nice chat; the hunters let liquor by and I get the sherry out of the saddlebag.
When it is already dark, in the meantime I have
set up the paddock and safely stowed the horse, one of the
hunters comes back, who actually wanted to shoot a wild
boar, and asks if he can give me his 10 liter water bucket,
which he is probably has in his car for washing hands, for
the horse overnight. That is a real kind thought, and very welcome at
this dry altitude, and so I thank him warmly. When I set off, I put the
canister behind the bushes, as requested, and the "borrowed"
watering can behind the garden gate of the nearby house.
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Photo of 1997, with Ligeira and Natascha