1,000-star hotel

Early morning. The sun hasn’t risen yet. 5.30 am. Fog. I start walking towards the horses’ meadows. The last house of the village. In a room lit by an old chandelier, the radio plays a merry popular song. As I pass by it, I find myself alone, in the fog, on a dirt cart road. It’s hard to describe how I feel. Fear and fascination at the same time. I’m alone, but surrounded by hundreds of lives. Crickets all over the place. Wild flowers of all colors. The biodiversity of the area is almost touchable.

In 10 minutes I reach the first fences. 17 horses, including two ponies, run free on dozens of hectares of pastures. Gentle hills, full of flowers, invite to relaxation and meditation. My first thought is that the area looks like a luxury hotel. For horses and not only. Luxury obtained though simplicity and by allowing nature to follow its course. In a Transylvanian village, Cobor, which seems almost inhabited in spite of the few hundred people that live here on agriculture.

I hear Roxana coming behind me. Pink hair, yellow shirt. Smiling, she rides without saddle on Takko el Samawi, a 17-year old Arab stallion that has taken part at speed and endurance competitions. She jumps over a ditch. Takko neighs, he felt the mares up on the hill.

It smells of freshly mowed grass. Roxana gallops among the straw bales. The sun has risen and its first rays light her from behind, through the fog.

The horses

The story of horses at Cobor is about her, Roxana, in spite of an entire management that runs the farm which has over 400 hectares of pastures and meadows, 36 cows, 17 calves, 3 Carpathian shepherd dogs and horses.

She is 32 and came here last spring. She grew up with her parents’ carriage horses in the Arges area, which she rode without saddle when bringing them home from pastures.

She dismounts Takko, jumps on his neck and kisses his nose. The stallion swells his nostrils and gets closer to her, to be petted. Roxana lets him free on the meadow and goes towards the mares and horses up on the hill. She comes to them every day, early in the morning. She knows them all, knows their habits. She talks to them as if they were babies. She looks like a kindergarten teacher and the horses listen to her. They are large and gentle, of different breeds.

The fog has formed a glow around the sun. Hypnotic. Cobor is a resort for horses and a rehabilitation center. I start to understand why. More precisely, to feel why. Here come horses that have spent their entire lives in a stable and now learn how the life of a horse should feel like.

Aslan is a 13-year-old Arab horse which broke his leg. A clinic in Hungary had decided he had to be euthanized. Now he’s recovered. Medeea is a half-breed Shagya mare. She came here with pulmonary problems, she had to stay in open air. Three years later she is ready to be a mother.

A white Arabian horse, Aladin, comes closer. He has retired at 21 and will spend the rest of his life here. I think it’s as if he uses his pension to spend his last years in luxury.

It’s hard to make these horses run. They are too relaxed. They have too much space at their disposal. They run when they want, mostly during the night, when it’s cooler. Only the two one-and-a-half-year old foals, which are alone on an entire hill, run as fast as they can among the mauve and white flowers that are as tall as their bellies.

At full speed

The entire farm is full of life. It is a project that belongs to the Conservation Carpathia foundation. Its target is to develop an ecological farm of at least 500 hectares that will preserve the biodiversity of the pastures and finance its forest conservation project.

The Saxon house where the tourists stay is a restored former stable. Teams of workers try to finish the restoration of the second house as soon as possible. It smells like food. I see the salad and the cucumbers picked from the yard and I suddenly feel so hungry.

After lunch, Roxana usually saddles the horse and goes riding for 3 or 4 hours. At gallop. Pausing means walking. This is the perfect place to train your horse for endurance competitions. She got lost many times, but now knows every part of the forest. She jokes that, if someone got lost in the woods, she would definitely be part of the rescue team.

Hera, the German shepherd dog in the yard, comes barking to us to say hello. We sit in the shadow for a while, to relax. Not for long. Roxana makes her plan. She has to put cream on the feet of a few horses. She has to gather some mobile fences. To take a mare to Takko, the stallion. To bring salt to the horses. To play with the puppies. To go to the cattle, to bring a battery there. If the weather is good, in the evening she will ride over the hills. And then will  fill in some official documents.

It’s 3pm. The day seems to have just begun for Roxana. In the morning she will start it all over again.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Magda Munteanu