Hey guys! I’m Stine, from Denmark, and in this guest post I will be telling you all about my experience riding and volunteering with Ride Andes in Ecuador. The seven-day tour with Ride Andes is the perfect trip for horse and nature lovers!
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The ride starts just a few hours north of Quito, Ecuador’s capital. Here at 2800 m altitude you will spend your first two days surrounded by beautiful mountains and riding through stunning valleys. A shorter ride on the first day is a great way to get used to the altitude, as well as getting to know your horse. Riding through the rural area, you will get the chance to say hello to many of the locals who are always happy to chat to you. The ride will take you to the hacienda where you will spend your first night.
After enjoying a delicious breakfast, you will start your second day ride. There is always a spare horse on the tour, so if you are not happy with the horse you are riding it is not a problem to swap horses around. With a mixture of cobble roads and quiet dirt tracks, you see a variety of places on your second day that will give you a great impression of Ecuador’s stunning countryside. You will stop for a nice picnic in nature and ride until the afternoon.
On day three, you meet the horses a few hours further south, at the beautiful national park Cotopaxi. Here you will be spending the remaining days of your horse riding tour, sleeping at a different hacienda every night! Some of the haciendas are several hundred years old. All haciendas have been modernised but still have an ancient look.
Riding through endless pasture, along rivers and passing waterfalls, you will have one of the highest canters in the world at 4060m above sea level! When riding through the park, with a size of 32.000ha, you will feel very small and be surrounded by nothing but nature! If you haven’t already, you might get lucky and see some Andean condors, the world’s largest flying bird with a wingspan of up to 3.2 meters. Watching herds of fighting bulls from a distance and wild horses running free on the open land will be an experience you won’t forget!
The beautiful haciendas you are staying at will allow you to rest well before your next ride with plenty of delicious and local Ecuadorian food! At the end of your seven day horse riding holiday you will have explored one of the most unique places there is in Ecuador and in the world, on horseback. If you are looking for a great horse riding holiday in South America filled with adventure on happy and healthy horses, do not hesitate to book a tour with Ride Andes in Ecuador.
Working with horses as a volunteer for Ride Andes in Ecuador is a great experience! You have the opportunity to learn a lot from the owner Sally Vergette. You must be able to work independently but at the same time you get to work with the local horsemen. On the rides we work together with a worker from our ranch and a chagra from the south. The workers only speak Spanish so here is a great opportunity to practice speaking the Spanish language. The chagra rides with an Ecuadorian made poncho and hat. He can read the weather and knows where the wetlands are in the park. He can call the fighting bulls and see if they are tame or wild. Also, he will be the first to spot the wild horses running around in the park. Working side by side with the locals is the best part, besides from riding horses of course. They are full of good stories and always willing to share.
As for being a volunteer you get accommodation and food. While you are working for Ride Andes there are a lot of horses to ride. At the ranch we have 15 horses that all need daily exercise. They are both being ridden out and worked in the corral. When we ride out it is usually for 2-3 hours to work on their endurance. We are based very locally in the north of Ecuador so riding out is always a joy. Greeting all the neighbours who are going out to look after their cows is always a great way to start a conversation. We have some really nice tracks for a good canter and some steep slopes for amazing views. When working the horses in the corral we work with balance and performance. We make some movements for them to go down.
All our horses can be ridden with neck reining and most of them can be ridden with two hands. Often the tourists find it more “safe” to ride with two hands until they’ve gotten used to their horse and afterwards they start neck reining. We ride with McClellan and Colombian saddles. The McClellan is closest to the English saddle. The saddle has a few layers of sheepskin to make it more comfortable. The sheepskin is much appreciated after 7 hours in the saddle! The Colombian saddle is closer to the western saddle. It is very comfortable for several hours of riding and you feel very safe in it.
I have worked for Ride Andes for 3 months and time has passed by so fast! I have learned a lot and gotten to know a lot of incredibly inspiring people. I have worked here with one of my best friends which only made the experience much better. And what could be a better mix than working with horses while traveling abroad. Ride Andes are always looking for new volunteers who have experience in horseback riding and maintenance. If you are looking to stay longer there is also a managing position at the moment. There is a 6 to 12 month paid position, and Sally is also looking for a couple or motivated individual to take over! Both incredible opportunities.
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