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Andean Adventure Tour Review, Ecuador 2021

Incredible riding experience on happy, healthy horses, June 2021

By Marysa L.

I felt so fortunate to close my three months of volunteering with Ride Andes on the Andean Adventure tour. What better way to appreciate three months of working on training and fitness with the horses than to watch them enjoy themselves and provide guests with an unforgettable experience!? It was the most rewarding feeling to see the horses having a genuinely amazing time as they carried our group through incredibly diverse terrain.

From the cloud forest with jungle vegetation to the mountainous terrain where we saw wild horses, to the vast flatlands in front of the Cotopaxi volcano, the horses were excited for the challenge. As someone who has trained horses for people in several places in the US and abroad, I can say that Sally’s team is one of the happiest herds I have had the pleasure of working with. It’s never as enjoyable to work with horses knowing they are not being given everything they need to succeed, but this particular group is so fortunate. It has been a breath of fresh air for me to see horses living with their friends in harmony, in excellent pasture, receiving individual training and medical care... I could tell the guests were impressed by the horses’ shiny coats, upbeat attitudes, and friendly disposition.

One of the most memorable parts of the tour for me was our stay at a remote Hacienda far, far off the beaten track. Located in a distant valley that then, turning eastward, disappears into the Amazon basin, the hacienda was built from ancient carved Inca stones. It sits high on a hilltop nestled below jagged, snow-capped mountains; it truly felt like something from a movie, or a different century. We rode up the hill, to be greeted with sweet mint tea, a welcoming family, and several toasty fires inside. It was a beautiful insight into ‘Chagra’ culture as we even got to watch two of the men rope a cow and hunt rabbits. From the massive windows beside one of the stone fireplaces, the guests and I also had fun watching all of our horses play as one big herd in their massive field below the hacienda.

I will forever cherish the memories of the Andean Adventure, and my past three months riding for Sally. I came to Ecuador with the intention of exploring a new culture and landscape. From the view between the horses’ ears, I had the time of my life riding through rural farming villages, lupin-carpeted valleys, mountain passes, and sprawling fields. I am not sure I will ever have the words to fully capture the gratitude, pride, and sense of adventure these horses have stirred in my heart. I am immensely proud to have been a part of their lives, and honored to have learned so much from Sally. From one horsewoman to another, I am very lucky to consider her, and this magnificent team of horses dear friends of mine.

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