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balance (2): horseback riding

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

horseback riding

as i mentioned earlier (i am backtracking and adding this post) i went to an estancia near buenos aires today. it is called estancia de los dos hermanos. they came to pick me up at 9am, and it was an hour and a half drive out to san pedro, where they were located. the ranch was pretty nice, though it was situated in flat lands similar to kansas in the US, which disappointed me as i was hoping to ride through shady forests. there was a swimming pool and a football field in addition to the farming grounds. the owner, anna, welcomed us with coffee and delicious pastries, had us sign a waiver, and then gave us chaps and riding helmets. then we were led by don juan, the gaucho, to the paddock where we were assigned horses according to our height and riding ability. i used to ride horses all the time, i was even in 'westernaires', a riding club in colorado which puts on annual trick riding shows (i have bad memories of having to dress up in a hillbilly uniform and go door to door in rich neighborhoods trying to hawk tickets to the shows). i was assigned a very stupid and stubborn horse named 'pamparito'. our first ride out was an hour and a half, just over the grounds. it was nice as we were basically left to ride as we pleased. several people galloped on ahead. my horse was more interested in eating the plants than riding, and no amount of kicking and screaming at him made any difference. still, it was a nice ride overall.

me and pamparito

lunch was a traditional argentinian 'asado', or barbecue. argentinians eat a lot of meat! different cuts of meat were brought out at different intervals. first was the sausage and ribs. then the bife de chorizo (sirloin), then the bife de lomo (prime rib), then something else...all i know is i only eat red meat about once a year so this week i have fulfilled about 5 years' worth. it was quite good though, and it was followed up by a delicious dessert of flan. i had a good chat with an older couple from philadelphia, some french airline stewardesses, and a rather flirty older man from the UK.

our second ride out was onto the main road rather than within the grounds of the estancia. it was extremely hot, and i got pretty sunburned despite my sunblock. also, we were pretty much expected to gallop for most of it, but my horse was so stupid that he would only trot. trotting is ridiculously painful for your back! i did get him to gallop for about 5 minutes of escstatic freedom, but then he went right back to trotting. by the end of the day i hated pamparito. and i hated the daughter of the ranch who kept following me around telling me to discipline him as if i hadn't been trying.

the ranch

after a nice tea and more pastries, we said goodbye and got back into the car towards town. the driver for some inane reason decided to drop the philly couple back first, right in the middle of downtown traffic, so that it took me more than two hours to get out of the traffic and back home. i was in serious pain and very dirty and smelly, but i poured a glass of wine and took a hot bath, and overall was left wishing i had access to a ranch to ride more often.


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