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Argentina day 3 – Salta, horseback riding and barbeque

Posted by on July 3, 2011

I was really excited about riding horses again as it probably has been for years since I last rode a horse but I still knew the techniques of how to get on, handle, ride, and dismount a horse. It initially took some time to getting used to, but like riding a bike after not been on for years, it was a piece of cake. The best way to ride horses was to sign up with a tourist agency as they were partnered with the Argentinean gauchos (known as cowboys) who had a ranch up in the mountains. They had a stable full of horses that they took care of as well as the crops they grew. Good thing I signed up for this event. One funny thing about Intrepid was that I had to sign a “waiver” that if I got hurt, injured, or killed that Intrepid would not be at fault since I willingly went on this “high-risk” activity. I just laughed and signed my life away as I joked wit the tour leader since I did the same with the mine tour. Someone must have gotten hurt and wanted Intrepid to be liable or something like that.

Once my horseback riding guide came down to my hostel and picked me up, we were gone. It took about a 20-30 minute ride up into the mountains but it was very lush and green which was probably due to the rains that made the area well-hydrated. As we drove up, I chatted with the guide and other people who also signed up for the horseback riding. All of them had never rode a horse before and some had a bit of fear in them but they soon settled down once we got to the ranch and saw the horses getting readied which made everyone excited. I thought the area was interesting in itself as it was explained to me that the Spaniards had arrived in 1500s to the area to settle down and eventually cattle ranching became a big part of the area. One of the legacies that the Spanish left behind was this church that built back in the 1800s but currently used as a hostel for tourists. The place had a congregation area with pews and separate rooms for the priests which were now used as accommodations for visitors. The outside even had crops, a fenced area for horses, and a horse pen which was where the horses were currently located. Quite a transition from the olden days to the modern times.

estable/stable, horseback riding, equitación/cabalgatas, Salta, Argentina

Outdoor stable for horses; basically just a holding area until riders got on them

After showing us the place, the guide stated that everything was ready for riding horses. He explained to us that it was fairly easy to ride horses as these horses were used frequently as “tourist-ridden” horses so all we needed was a coat and this black helmet looking thing that I didn’t know what it was called but I have seen them worn by riders in equestrian matches for safety reasons. As the horses were prepared for riding, I noticed that the Argentinians ride differently from the American way. Americans use a cowboy saddle with a horn in front of the rider along with stirrups in both hands but the Argentinians ride more bare as they put blankets on the horse’s back and a different saddle to ride the horse using only one hand to guide it. And as I figured, once the guide asked me if I ridden horses before, I got the horse with a strong personality. Great. (The horse’s) Strong personality versus (my) strong personality. I was going to see how this was going to work if things would clash or not.

horseback riding, equitación/cabalgatas, Salta, Argentina

A picture of what it would look like from the horse's point of view

But actually the whole thing was pretty calm because after mounting the horse and riding it for several hundred meters, it was easy. I could see some fear in the other riders but I had an easy, no-problems-about-it-ride of a horse. The scenery of it made it even better despite the rains starting to fall and making all of us wet but still it was nice.

horseback riding, equitación/cabalgatas, Salta, Argentina

Riding was easy... for the time being

green fields/campo de verde

The entire area was just green and lush while riding on horses

horseback riding, equitación/cabalgatas, Salta, Argentina

It rained while riding horses but it didn't effect much

Even going up on horses in the hills was no sweat at all. It seemed that the horses knew what was going on and had probably done this a million times, doing this same course of several kilometers of here and there and back home again.

horseback riding, equitación/cabalgatas, Salta, Argentina, on the hill/colina

The ride to the top of the hill

horseback riding, equitación/cabalgatas, Salta, Argentina, view/vista

Great view from the hill; as I stated before, this entire area was just so green and full of vegatation

And of course, the view was very much so excellent to see from the top to where you have to admire the scenery.

horseback riding, equitación/cabalgatas, Salta, Argentina, vista/point/viewpoint

Scene at top of the hill

horseback riding, equitación/cabalgatas, Salta, Argentina, with dogs/perros

Goin' back home... the horses knew what was going on... and were just waiting for the right time...

But when it was time to go back home, that’s when the problems occurred. I was warned midway of the horseback riding by the guide that my horse was a racehorse and it knew when it was going home because it was going to dash full-speed home. It did not want any part of the slowdown and just want to finish it off. Oh yeah, I found out real quick about this because as soon my horse started to bolt home, I had to pull back on the stirrups to slow and stop it. I was going to be the boss of this trip, not the horse. I had to do this numerous times to make it stop from going too fast. I doubt any of the new riders knew how to control their horses as theirs went on either slowly or just stop during the ride to eat plants. With horses, you have to show them who is the boss. I showed mine who was the boss and once I could see there was enough space to go full-speed, that’s when I let the horse go and bam, I was going full-speed and having fun doing it. I went from going last-dead to first place just like that. The other horses wouldn’t gallop at all except mine so I guess I could say that I got the full riding experience of slow and fast.

horseback riding, equitación/cabalgatas, Salta, Argentina, control the horse/controlar el caballo

"Control the horse, or the horse will control you."

Once everyone dismounted the horses, a big lunch was awaiting us. All of us were treated like kings and queens as I had probably one of the best lunches I’ve ever had in my life. I still talk fondly about that meal to this day! The guides did not just ride horses but also knew how to do “asado” which is known as grilled in Spanish. They grilled beef like no other as they cooked various parts of the cow, egg plants, zucchini, and potatoes.

Salta, Argentina, carne asada/grilled meat, barbeque/BBQ steak

You cannot beat this asado at all! Just damn good meat!

They served different kinds of meat which was different parts of the cow ranging at first with tough, okay meat to becoming better tasting to unbelievable. The last piece of meat was the best part of all in my opinion as the meat was juicy and very tasty. We must taken an hour to eat all that food which in turn made me very sleepy. But it was all worth it as I had a full stomach of nothing but meat. Once lunch was done, it was time to head back to the hostel. Once I got back to my hostel, I passed out for 4 hours only to be awoken by the alarm clock so that way I could meet up with other people to go eating again. Wow, what a life. Just eat meat, sleep, and eat more meat! I went out with some people to go to a place frequented by locals who also went there to listen to freelancing musicians play their music on violins, drums, and guitars. Night life in Argentina starts late and we got there at 10:00 PM, the perfect time to get started as that was when Argentinians prefer to start eating dinner. It was a great experience just eating and talking and listening to live music. For dinner, I had yet again more meat in the form of blood sausage and a tamale filled with well, more meat. It was a great day overall, despite sleeping from all that meat from both lunch and dinner. But it was worth it! Argentinean meat has to be some of the best meat in the world. People must try this someday!

hand in horse's ass

I took a picture of one of the guys sticking his hand up a horse's butt to see what was wrong with the horse and its sickness. I know it looks gross but to these guys, horses were a big part of their livelihood and it was for good reasons, all medical, not bad.