It’s just amazing what shows up in our small village in this deep ancient corner of France. Last week posters appeared announcing a big event for Bourdeilles. There were to be movie star horses, an Olympic Gold Medalist, and a film of his triumphs that had been filmed in our region. This was going to be a community event not to be missed. Tom was trying to figure out just how old Mr. Ed must be now. Our neighbor was hoping for Brad Pitt.
The French are notorious for am overly casual sense of time, but fifteen minutes before the start of the show there was a flow of neighbors heading up the street to the city park called the “Promenade”. This Promenade was created as a space for shady afternoon walks. Some of the shade comes courtesy of trees planted in the time of Louis the 14th (three heads before the Louis that lost his).
The amphitheater-type space filled in quickly.
At 6:30 the audience buzzed as a horse and rider started their entrance down the length of the grassy ramp. Not just a horse walking along, but a horse prancing, dancing, head held high, a regal, and elegant presence. Immediately the spectators were pulled into the emotion of the show.
We were treated to a performance by three horses trained for the movies. Their trainer is renowned for his ability to train horses how to act and express sweetness, aggressiveness, pain or elegance. But they could dance as well, and those three beautiful horses treated us to a ballet of grace and strength.
The second part of the evening’s event was a movie about a young man, his efforts and struggles to win a gold medal in jumping and the special horse that carried him to that victory. A horse named Jappeloux. A cantankerous, small horse with a great big spirit and a talent for jumping. We had the honor of the Olympic Gold medalist himself introducing the film - and staying afterwards for questions.
The film was shown in the courtyard space between Bourdeilles’ medieval and the renaissance chateaux. It was quite something to sit there in the dark of a summer evening surrounded by the shadows of these ancient buildings looming up behind a modern movie screen. Tilting ones head to the skies you could watch the stars slowly filling the sky around the outline of the castle’s tower and the crenelations of the ramparts.
At midnight we all headed back out through the enormous defensive gates of our castle into the narrow streets of our small village. No one had far to go as the day’s grand events had come to our doorsteps. Doorsteps that have opened onto small events for hundreds of years with grand events such as this sprinkled in from time to time.