His messy hair is the same color as the manes of his horses. An ebony black, symbol of robustness, independence and character. A source of pride for Nathalie Komaroff, heiress to the equestrian passion transmitted by her Cossack rider grandfather. At 54, the former saleswoman, seasonal in winter at the Porté ski resort, will lead her herd of “Black Princes” from Saint-Cyprien to Porté Puymorens. A 24th epic that has become a tradition.
After a winter spent near the sea, the call of the mountains manifests itself within the herd of around forty Mérens. The arrival of Nathalie Komaroff in a meadow at Mas Riols is greeted by whinnies of impatience, especially as the farrier is also busy preparing. The start of the transhumance is scheduled for this Saturday, April 30, a week of supervised riding, to reach the Cerdane mountain, more precisely the Garcie farm in Porté-Puymaurens.
A choice, a challenge, a life
Robust, rustic and elegant, Mérens comes from the upper Ariège valley. The black of its coat is characteristic of a breed which has drawn exceptional qualities from the mountains. Docile and enduring, these little horses are intelligent, able to adapt, they are the kings of versatility.
Very young, Nathalie Komaroff is passionate about the breed. His grandfather, a Cossack lieutenant in the Russian cavalry, fled the Bolshevik regime on horseback and settled in Ariège in the 1920s. His father, a backpacker rider, began breeding at Porté Puymorens. She was then a college student in Bourg-Madame then a high school student in Font-Romeu in the sports section. With her G3 baccalaureate in hand, she followed a BTS in commercial action in Toulouse. The family moved to the Ferme d’en Garcie in 1990. “I have never forgotten the first horses Alcazar, Alicante and Judit the first mare who gave birth to Joly, it was a challenge, a victory and the realization of a life project”. In 1997, she created Pyrene-equus and offers enthusiasts in search of authenticity, to participate in a unique adventure: to supervise this transhumance in spring to “climb” and in autumn to “descend”.
“In fact, I belong to the herd”
The success is such that today to participate in the week of transhumance, you have to pay 1,000 €. And requests come from all over Europe, there is even a waiting list of selected riders: “To supervise a very enthusiastic herd deserves resistance and know-how, it is not a quiet walk. You have to have a good level and be able to react very quickly. The organization is neat but there are always Lots of unforeseen events.The leading horse is Onyx, 20 years old, he has the trade and sure hooves uphill, followed by his pupil, if I may say so, Birame, 11 years old, who is also valiant and generous. Behind, the beaters have to frame the fiery herd and sometimes you have to step in to avoid accidents. Personally, I have to stay focused, I have to read everyone’s attitude. In fact, I belong to the herd, I feel their conditions , their needs. I don’t hesitate to stop them when exhaustion threatens, covering 250 km in 8 days, crossing a pass at 2,400 m, it’s sport. The climb is trying, the relief of Arriving at the farm is synonymous with freedom, it’s a great shared happiness!”.
The departure of the 24and transhumance des Mérens will be given this Saturday, April 30 around 9 a.m. from Mas Riols (between Argelès and Saint-Cyprien), via Céret, will then follow the stages of Sunday 1er May Ceret-Amélie-les-Bains, Monday May 2 Amélie-Baillestavy, Tuesday May 3 Baillestavy-Vernet-Fillols, Wednesday May 4 Fillols-Villefranche-Evol, Thursday May 5 Evol-La Llagonne, Friday May 6 La Llagonne-Dorres and festive arrival on Saturday May 7 in Porté.