During my travels and work, I’ve met, ridden and trained hundreds of horses around the world. In this blog series I will go through some of the most impactful experiences I’ve had and lessons I’ve learned from the horses I’ve had the pleasure of working with. You can read the first blog, about my Arabian mare Bats here, and the second blog about a horse called Pigeon in South Africa here. This blog will be about a spotty Criollo horse in Mexico, called Capricho.
The rancho we work with to organise our horse riding holidays in Mexico is an incredible place with some of the most amazing horses I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and riding. The trails are super varied, and the horses really enjoy the lifestyle they have here. They get lots of rest in between trail rides, have a large paddock where they live in a herd, and get unlimited roughage. A part of the herd of horses are often ridden by beginners, which they are perfect and well trained for. This makes them very careful about where they put their feet and makes them really take it easy in the canters too, as they want to keep their human safe. When I rode Capricho for the first time, I must say I wasn’t too impressed for the first hour or two. Don’t get me wrong, I thought he was a great horse, just not really a match for an experienced rider who’s looking for some speed and lots of personality. I rode him for the day, but quickly decided I would see if I could switch horses the next day. After lunch, however, my opinion completely changed! Capricho had noticed that he doesn’t have to be careful, and that I could stay on just fine no matter what kind of fun things he decided to do. When we went for another canter, he shot out into a full speed gallop, and before I could say yeehaw, he let out a huge buck of joy. He completely changed and opened up in a matter of hours, and the next few days he was racing with his friends, getting jumpy and excited for the gallops, and basically turned into my dream horse. I really learnt to not give up on a horse so quickly, and give them a chance to open up and let their personalities shine!
Capricho is a great example of something an equestrian will have to learn about as they travel the world riding horses. Different cultures means different training methods, different breeds, different tack, and different ways of handling horses. Just because it's different, absolutely doesn't mean that it’s bad or not as good as the ways that you're used to. There are certain aspects of every horse culture and discipline that are less than ideal, and it’s certainly possible to run into these aspects when you’re horseback riding across the globe. At Rancho Las Cascadas however, where I had the pleasure of riding the little criollo gelding Capricho, they are incredibly good to the horses, which is of course my number one priority for any trail riding holiday featuring on Hooves Around The World. I already mentioned before that the horses they use for beginners, are trained for beginners. This however does not mean that they aren’t also suitable for experienced riders, as they can open up so quickly! Capricho also tried to do well and according to his training in the beginning. He stayed in line, matched the speed of the lead horse at all times, and didn’t try to overtake in those first couple of hours. He’s been trained very well for this, and really enjoys his job of teaching beginners to get a feel for cantering. I found it very strange, and like I said before, it made me think he wasn’t a good match for me. Riding horses in different cultures means asking questions about training methods, and figuring out ways to connect with horses that are educated in a very different type of trail riding than you’re used to!
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