Horse riding wild west style!

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April 19th 2009
Published: April 23rd 2009
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There were six of us from the hostel doing the horse riding on the Sunday morning. Apparently there isn’t much to do in Mendoza on a Sunday and this was the best way to fill the day. We were all up early still hurting from our three or four hour stint on a rock hard saddle. We were to be collect at 9am but in typical Latin/Spanish form it was 10am before the guy arrived to bring us to his ranch. Two cars came for us and three went in each. Myself, Michelle and Katie went in one and Nick (American) and two Dutch girls (names forgotten) went in the other. The drive to the ranch was about 45 minutes and we passed through some wonderful parks on the way. When we arrived the owner was getting our horses ready. There were seven in total. Six for us and one for our guide. They all seemed calm enough except for on who seemed unsettled and a bit excited. One by one he handed out the horses to us. We all had laughed how none of us wanted the temperamental one. I was last to be given a horse and with the temperamental one left I feared for the worse. Luckily I was given the other horse. The guide took the moody one to my delight. We were given quick instructions as to how to control the horse. Sit back going up hill. Forward going down hill. Left or right on the reins to turn the horse. As simple as that! First we had a small walk around the yard and I noticed straight away that my horse liked to take shortcuts. He cut plenty of corners as if to say you don’t need to know this.

Our first real test was our first path on the trek. It was down hill. With a drop of about 15m we all feared for the worse! Slowly the horse went down as it twist back and forth down the hill. Luckily everyone made it but you can be quite sure many don’t even make it past that part because of the fear. We would ride through the land going up and down large hills holding on for dear life. My horse (Lucero) started second from the back but soon made his way to second from the front. Michelle, who christened her grey horse Misty was adjusting to life on the horse without any difficulty. The scenery was amazing along the way and I can only describe it as like something out of a wild west movie. We were all expecting to see Indians up on the hills looking down on us as we passed through the canyons. We had some very hairy moments along the way where you just hold your breath and hope for the best. If we were in Ireland, Health and Safety would definitely not let us do what we were doing. We arrived at one point to the top of a cliff. The drop was very steep and Katie’s horse who was last decided he didn’t want to do it. The guide had to wait until we all got to the bottom to race back up to the top to rescue her. At this stage her horse decided it was going back home the way we had came. Katie could not control the horse. Even tough the guides horse looked the most temperamental, you could see it was the most powerful and intelligent. It reacted to its owners calls and made it up the hill in a few strides. It really was a magnificent horse. We had been waiting at the bottom now for awhile and we hoped that nothing had happened. A few minutes later they arrived back with the guide on Katie’s horse and Katie on his. They came down the hill without any problems but Katie was clearly shaken from her experience. I think it added to it that she was now on the moody horse though! We continued on winding through the mountains crossing little streams and coming to little obstacles. My horse would never take the path of the horse in front of him. He always had his own way. Soon though I realised I could control his movements very often I had to put him on the right track and he always responded without any problems. Every now and again he would like to eat some grass. Sometimes you would have to pull him away as it always slowed him down. Michelle’s horse was probably the best as it never caused any problems for her and kept moving a the same pace as the guide. Other horses though didn’t want to move at all and walked along very slowly. At times the guide would have to swap with some of the slow horses to get the moving at the same pace as the others. For that last 20 minutes the guide said we could gallop if we wanted to. He said he would go slow with anyone who wanted to take it easy and the others could go on ahead. There were two problems though. The horses clearly knew from experience that at this point they could start to gallop. Secondly if one galloped they all galloped! A few of us decided to give it a try but we had to stop because the other horses wanted to do it as well. We waited until we were out of sight and gave the horse a small kick on the side. Slowly the horse took off and soon I was holding on for dear life. The horse galloped for a short distance until I felt uncomfortable and not in control. The ground was all gravel and rocks and not ideal place to fall on to. We tried galloping a few times but always stopped it pretty soon after the horse got into full flight. We had one last hurdle before we were finished. The hill we came down at the start now had to be climbed. Our guide was behind with the slower ones but he told us the horses knew their way home and would take us there. My horse new what was in front of him when we reached the hill. It was like he stopped for a split second before taking off up the hill cutting back and forth up the path before reaching the top. The sense of relief and joy when we were on level ground was immense. All you wanted to do was hug the horse! He had just carried me for four hours up and down various big hills. Katie and one of the Dutch girls didn’t fancy going back up the final hill so they walked up. The guide tied his horse to the two others and raced up with out any difficulties, the temperamental horse leading the way.

We were sore all over after getting off the horse and our knees hurt the most. It wasn’t long though before the pain passed. While we were gone the owner prepared an Asado. The table was set for us and we had all sorts or barbequed steak. We were all stuffed and couldn’t even finish the rest of the meat! We shared some beer and talked about our earlier adventure. The owners dog joined us as well for the Asado and we (I) fed him plenty of bones. He was a Rottwieller and all though he was friendly I felt it was in my best interest to feed him. Drool came from his mouth as he sat and stared at me, waiting to be fed. We chatted for awhile before they brought us back to our hostel. That evening we rustled up some pasta and veg from our food bag ‘Roy’ and wondered what type of pain we would be in the next day!

We had nothing planned for the next day as we had done the wine tour and the horse riding and wine tour the previous two days. When we did wake the next morning we were all in pain. It was mainly muscles in our lower back that hurt and made any kind of activities rather difficult. Michelle went into town with Katie for awhile while I caught up on my blogs. I did ventured to the bus station to buy our tickets for our bus to Salta. We said we would try a new bus company to see what it was like. Turns out that the bus company gets another company to do the route and we had already been on one of their buses. With our muscles aching we decided to go to a water park the next day that was full of thermal baths and other stuff. We hadn’t been swimming since we left home and we were looking forward to it.

In a bit. DH

Song of the blog: Raw Hide - Blues Brothers

PS - How do they get the pears and peach’s in the cans so perfectly peeled and shaped? (this is what 16hrs on a bus does to you!)

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