South America is something very special, which is for a reason that Stine has spent the last 3 years travelling through the continent. After 3 years in South America, she finally traveled to beautiful Colombia to go horse riding. In this blog post Stine will tell you all about the incredible horse ranch she visited in Colombia, and the unique horse riding holidays and adventures they organise. Stine will be joining their upcoming horse riding holiday from 30th of September to 8th of October. Keep reading to find out more!
When my friend suggested going to Colombia, I immediately predicted our trip. I truly thought we would land in Bogota airport. Be driven to the outskirts of town in one of the yellow taxis, and end up in an old warehouse where I would weigh cocaine and if I was be lucky enough, swallow a few bags and travel to Europe just to throw them back up... Let’s just say, my predictions couldn't have been more wrong. We landed in Bogota and a lovely taxi driver drove us to our hostel. He was telling us where to go and about the different attractions. He dropped us off safely at our hostel (not the outskirts of town) and I discovered one of my new favourite countries, Colombia, with the most helpful people and stunning views. I wouldn’t trade my Colombia trip for anything.
As I mentioned in my previous blog post about Colombia and one-day horseback rides, Colombia surprised me in every way possible. The people, scenery, diversity and safety. Therefore, it can’t come as a surprise that Hooves Around The World is now offering a horseback riding adventure in Colombia! When I thought of Colombia and horseback riding, I knew what I wanted the guests to experience. We would need some strong, healthy and forward going horses, a coffee farm or two, colourful Colombian houses and charming local towns, comfortable saddles, and of course the diverse nature that Colombia is so famous for.
I honestly had a lot of trouble figuring out how to start this blog post. I am writing this after many different tries, but I think for you to get the best idea of who Marc is, this is the way I should start: I asked him “What brought you to Colombia?” Marc looked at me and said, “I travelled here from the UK, bought a horse and rode from Colombia to Peru. I came back to live in Colombia because I like the people.” He smiled and said, “You might need to add some more words to that.”
I travelled here from the UK, bought a horse and rode from Colombia to Peru. I came back to live in Colombia because I like the people
Marc owns the ranch and hotel where we will be starting and finishing our horseback adventure. He is from the UK and went to South America for specifically for horseback riding, but it wasn’t just a one-week horse riding holiday. Marc travelled to Colombia in 2014 and bought a horse. He went to the coast in the north of Colombia but didn’t have any luck finding the right horse. He ended up hiring a car close to Medellin and he had a driver drive him around. They would drive past fields with horses and Marc would go up to the house and ask if they had a horse for sale. Marc was in a field with horses when he spotted a good-looking white horse in the back. He walked toward him but a skinny red horse came between them. And that was the beginning of a very special friendship. Marc and Red, as he ingeniously named his horse, travelled from Colombia, through Ecuador and down to Peru. This ride took 11 months. Marc and Red were wild camping, working on farms and just enjoying the adventure while making their way south. Before his journey Marc worked at a ranch in South America for 6 months to gain experience. He took lessons on a pony when he was a child but besides that he didn’t have any experience with horses. He went on his adventure to acquire knowledge - which he definitely did - and it prepared him for his life as a rancher. Today, Marc is running the ranch together with his 10 horses, 3 dogs and 2 full time employees.
It was the end of my Colombia trip, but I didn’t want to leave without at least meeting Marc and his horses. We spent one night at Marc’s ranch and it was everything and more than I expected. The first ones to meet us were his three dogs. Each one with their own unique character. They welcomed us as if we had met them a hundred times before. Colombia is famous for their colourful houses, however Marc’s ranch is an old colonial house in the colours white and green. It is simple yet full of details. Thick walls, with big windows that bring the light in. It can’t be described, you’ll need to experience it for yourself. The tranquillity on the horse ranch is unimaginable, it's just outside of town, and you can still hear a few cars honking once in a while, but it feels like you are in the middle of nowhere. It is the perfect location. The horses are grazing in their fields just around the house, so you can sit in the garden and listen to them neigh or chew.
Enough about interior design and cute dogs. The horses are probably what makes 95% of the ride. I'm not sure what my expectations were before coming to the ranch, but reality was certainly even better! Marc’s horses are Colombian Criollos, Appaloosas, Appaloosa crosses, Paso Finos and Percherons. My friend, who was with me, fell in love with an Appaloosa cross the second she went up to him. Lucky for her, it was the one Marc had already chosen for her.
When booking a ride, Marc will ask you 5 questions and based on your answers, he will set you up with the horse that matches you and your needs best. I got to ride Brio, he is a Paso Fino and a LOT of fun to ride. If you are not used to this gait, like me, you will be pleasantly surprised. Brio was a very forward going, no-leg-needed kind of horse. I wouldn’t have wanted another horse. The horses are all very alert and aware of their surroundings. They walked past a group of men paving the road without batting an eye. It was incredible to see how well-trained these horses were.
On the ride, we had Marc’s back-up guide with us; a local Colombian who was a little less llanero (cowboy) than usual. He was a very chatty character and gave us some local advice on where to go and what to see. If you speak Spanish, don’t hold yourself back! He would love to have a chat with you and tell you all about Colombian life. It was really nice to see such a dedicated horseback guide.
The horse riding holiday in Colombia with Hooves Around The World will consist of 9 days total, with 6 days of horse riding. You will see the diversity that Colombia has to offer. If you are interested in birdwatching you can't miss out on Colombia. Colombia is the number one place in the world to go birdwatching and the state we ride in has the most species in the world.
During this horse riding holiday, you will spend every night at a new location. One night we will be accommodated at a coffee farm, another night at a luxury farm house, and even glamping is on the list! They say that price and quality go hand in hand, and for Marc’s ranch I can certainly say that this is true. I have not seen such well shod horses in Colombia or even South America. Marc takes good care of his horses, no doubt about that! The tack is outstanding and looked like it just came out of a tack shop. The saddles are very comfortable and the thought of spending a week in them doesn’t make my bum hurt. In addition to comfortable saddles, I assure you that the accommodations will not disappoint you!
Marc’s calm nature very much reflects on his animals. Whenever he is around the whole scene changes and everyone is just at peace. The horses almost listen better than the dogs. Watching the horses eat breakfast was something special. We all know how stressful and noisy it can get when the horses are impatient and start pawing the floor. At this ranch, all the horses were standing patiently and waiting for their bucket of feed. When they were eating there were no ears back or bullying each other. Once they were done Marc could let one loose and it would follow him to the field. It was beautiful to watch. When Marc went up to Red, his body language changed. It is impossible to even begin to imagine what the two of them have been through together.
It is very clear where Marc belongs. For me personally, it is a mystery why a man with no knowledge of horses would choose the path in life that he has, but seeing him be around his animals, it all makes sense. I can’t wait to go on many more expeditions with him and his amazing team. I hope this has inspired you to get to know more about Colombia and come horse riding here! Even if you’re not going for the horses, I recommend you just go for the stories. Once Marc starts talking about his life journey and travels, you can’t help but smile.
From Europe there are some great direct flights with KLM and Avianca. From Miami and New York, you can get a direct flight to Pereira which makes Marc’s location very attractive. You land on a Saturday and leave the following Sunday. This means you need to take only a week off of work, and the dates have been planned to avoid any of Colombia’s national holidays.
Speaking of flying, every time someone flies to Marc’s place, he plants the number of trees which is needed to reduce the carbon footprint. So, the number of hours in the air = the number of trees. When people come back to do a second or third ride with him, they can see how their tree has grown, and if it’s a fruit tree they can even get to harvest the fruit. You’re probably thinking “That must be a lot of trees” and yes, it is! He is currently expanding his project.
I have an upcoming tour from the 30th of September to the 8th of October and I am looking for people to come join me on this incredible ride! So, if you are an intermediate or experienced rider (max. 90 kg) and looking for an unforgettable adventure on horseback, this is just for you!
The price for the trip is 3420 USD, and when you book through Hooves Around The World you get a 5% discount if you use the code HoovesColombia.
Use the discount code HoovesColombiaTwin for an additional 5% off if you choose shared accommodation.
Basically, all expenses during the ride are covered. It is possible to buy add-ons for your trip.
Hope to be riding with you very soon!
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