Story by Shelley Hawthorne
Starting in Limburg and der Lahn
Limburger Dom (Limburg Cathedral) - Saint George's
See more pics in my Limburg an der Lahn photo album.
Woo-Hoo!! Next up is my much anticipated Germany Equestrian Adventure! The last time I took an equestrian vacation was in 2000 at the Castle Leslie Estate in County Monaghan, Ireland. Yes, I’d say I was long overdue!!
Unlike my trip in Ireland where we stayed at the centre the entire week and rode our horses into the surrounding estate grounds for daily cross-country jumping and gallops, this Germany trip was a 4 day, Progressive Drei-Täler-Trail (3-Valley-Ride). I had selected this trip from HiddenTrails.com, a great internet provider of premier equestrian vacations world-wide, plus more!
Our fearless trail guide for the 3 Valley Ride was Jens Hammer who arrived in Limburg to collect me and another rider (Sara from New Zealand) to take us to the home ranch at Hofgut Molsberg for an overnight stay.
Street View of Hofgut Molsberg
Hofgut Molsberg is a fabulous facility with simple, clean, warm accommodations and shower, a banquet hall, private home, large stable and extensive pastures.
Entrance to Hofgut Molsberg - Wanderreiten (Trail-Riding) im Westerwald und Taunus
My equestrian partner “Amel” is out there in that pasture!
The Pastures at Hofgut Molsberg
oh, a little filly! Check her out in action! Filly Fun Video
Family Life at Hofgut Molsberg
3 Valley Ride: Day 1 – Three other german riders arrived in the morning (Michelle, Rica, and Björn) and after fetching our horses from the field, grooming, tacking, plus a short lesson on how to properly roll up oilskin duster/raincoats to tie down behind our saddles, we set off for a 4-6 hour ride into the Westerwald region.
We were scheduled to stop every 90 minutes for a break and be met by Klaus who not only had our luggage with him in his van but had also stocked some refreshments for us.
Within the first 90 minutes into the ride Sara’s horse had gone lame. We were delayed as Jens made arrangements to have another horse swapped in. When we set off again we were very behind schedule and in order to reach our first overnight stop before dark, we rode straight on with no more breaks. Along the way we were overtaken by a heavy rain and stopped long enough to unroll and put on the oilskin rain dusters to keep ourselves and our saddles dry. When the rain stopped we made up some time with breath-taking gallops through glistening rain soaked green meadows! That first day we were also treated to the sights of a herd of deer running across the hill before us and also a large European brown hare that gave us a wide berth.
At 7 pm we had reached the Bruchhäuser Mühle…
Dinnertime - End of Day 1
…where we enjoyed a fabulous Inn-style dinner together and comfortable rooms to recover overnight. I was expecting to be sore from riding but found that although my muscles were not really aching, my poor seat bones were quite tender! Even sitting down on a soft bed was to be done with caution! I decided a couple Motrin tablets would help take the edge off. I tried not to think about having to sit in that hard saddle for another 4-6 hour ride the next day.
Start of Day 2 - Bruchhäuser Mühle
3 Valley Ride: Day 2 – The next morning arrived quickly. After breakfast together we set off and began a steep climb up through wooded terrain to skirt along near the top of the ridge with a dizzying slope down our right side. Seeing the steep slope from our narrow trail, we couldn’t help but recall that famous scene from “The Man from Snowy River” known simply as, ”The Descent” (watch first 40 secs):
Oddly, no one opted to take the “The Snowy River” shortcut so we took the long way down into the next valley. And a good thing too, since that meant we could delight in this picturesque view of Obernhof:
Obernhof - In the distance is Cloister of Anstein
We ended up going right down through Obernhof using that center road pictured above. Then spent a good portion of the day going in and out, back and forth and within a river creek that substituted as our trail. The creek was shallow enough and Jens kept us out of the deep parts but it also had a VERY rocky bottom. Getting into the river meant facing the horse straight down the muddy bank and letting them slide their way down and in. Getting out meant just hang on as they clamber out!
At one point a 10 cm branch was blocking our path about chest-high on the horses. Most obstructions we would squeeze under, over or around as needed but this time Jens took a few minutes to saw through it with his utility knife.
This day was full of “Situations” (a fast-becoming familiar phrase of Jens’) and I had a full appreciation of how very fit and safe his horses were. They knew their job and were pros!
We stopped for a hearty lunch at Mittelmühle. Later that afternoon I remember thinking perhaps I shouldn’t have ate so much… as we were galloping hell-bent-for-leather during our fastest gallop yet! Yee-Haw!
Even with our fast gallops it was dusk when we reached the very tiny village of Bärbach. Tiny Bärbach consists of 5 homes and 16 residents. I am soon thrilled to know that we will stay here for two nights! My internet connection on my iPhone was random at best, suddenly I felt like I was truly on a remote vacation from my normal daily life. Our wonderful host, Christoph (not sure I have his name spelled right) fixed delicious home-made dinners and desserts for us.
Fabulous host in Bärbach - Christoph
My favorite that Christoph made was the Frankfurter specialty, Grüne Soße. I found the perfect description of this delicious, locally found dish here –> Frankfurt on Foot City Guide: Frankfurt Grüne Sosse or Green Sauce and a nice photo that portrays this dish perfectly:
Grüne Soße (Green Sauce) - © Klaus-Uwe Gerhardt pixelio.de
3 Valley Ride: Day 3 – We took a break from the previous two days’ riding schedule. After a leisurely start we ride a short 90 minutes to have lunch at the foot of Burg Hohlenfels. We stopped for some pictures along the way:
Wanderreiten in Deutschland ist prima!
Burg Hohlenfels (Castle) in the distance
While the horses took an extended break:
Day 3 - Lunch Break
I enjoyed another German specialty:
Spiegeleier mit rohen Schinken = YUMMY!
After a long lunch we headed back to Bärbach, stopping along the way at Schauferts Brewery for a couple Biers! I can see one of our horses in the background is wishing he could join us!!
Courtyard at Schauferts Brewery
I had ein helles Bier und ein dunkles Bier:
Schauferts- Hell und Schauferts-Dunkel
Yep, Vacations are Grand!
3 Valley Ride: Day 4 – For our last day we were back on schedule with another 4-6 hour ride ahead of us because this time we needed to go all the way back to our origination point of Molsberg. We took as much of a direct route as possible in order to cover about 30 km or 18 miles before dark.
In the morning we rode through lovely Balduinstein
Balduinstein on der Lahn river
and stopped for a break
Day 4 - Morning Break in Balduinstein
By Day 4 me and my seat bones were finally in the groove and it was a great final ride! After our break in Balduinstein there was a steep hill range we had to cross. Jens said we needed to do this starting at a trot (to make it easier for the horses than walking up), then switch to a gallop…while on a narrow path no wider than a picnic table. And we had to do this singularly without stopping on the way up. Jens said just give (loosen) completely with the reins, hang on to our horse’s mane midway up and rise out of the saddle off their backs. Similar to how we got out of the river each time on Day 2, but this was a longer steep uphill stretch, with serpentine-switchback turns through bushes and trees, and all to be done at speed.
My horse Amel was a beauty! All the horses did great, although puffing, as we took a quick break at the top. A great excuse to check out the view of nearby Schloss (Castle) Schaumburg!
Schloß Schaumburg (Castle) in the distance
Towards the end of the day as we were almost back at Molsberg, we had a couple of special fast gallops; one was a race up a grassy meadow, and the other a final mad dash in the woods with hooves clattering loudly and flinging bits of hard mud everywhere!!! WOW what a great time that was! I think I need to continue to see the rest of the world via horseback!
See more pics in my Drei-Täler-Trail (3-Valley-Ride) photo album.
Jens Hammer - Fantastic horse trail guide!
The next day we said our goodbyes as Jens dropped Sara and I off at the Limburg Süd station to catch our flights out of Frankfurt.
You can book this trip with Hidden Trails - more details with rates and dates are on their website at:
You can also call them Toll Free from North America at 1-888-987-2457 or from the UK 80 8 189 0420