If you ask a British person what the words ‘trot’, ‘trots’ or ‘trotter’, you will usually get one of these replies: Montezuma’s Revenge, Delhi Belly or some other acute digestive disaster, a member of the Militant Tendancy, Socialist Workers Party or some other doomed 1980s far left group, or a cockney chancer played by David Jason in a long running tv comedy programme.
In France, it refers to a very popular form of horse racing. Le Trot consists of horses pulling flimsy two wheeled vehicles along race tracks. The wierd bit is that the horses cannot gallop, but must trot, in a prancing, slightly absurd fashion. They race round tracks, quite fast, but not as fast as normal horse racing, and of course the chariots take up more room, so there is quite a lot of jostling and confusion. I think it is a very silly process. I believe in North America they call the little carriages ‘sulkies’ for some reason.
I know of three or four bars called ‘le Trot’ or ‘le Trotteur’, and Normandy being a very horsey sort of place, there are often horse boxes being towed around, with the little carriages attached to the back, their shafts sticking up into the air.
Out of season, and sometimes on summer evenings, you might find trotteurs exercising on some of the beaches. Apparently, apart from having long flat stretches to practice on, the sea water is good for the horses, so they sometimes go through the shallow water. A good example is the beach at Jullouville, where at low tides there is a very long, wide and sandy beach. Here is a photograph of several trotteurs on a January afternoon.
First published by Paul Nethercott – landinginnormandy.blogspot.fr