I promised you a story… so, having just about got over the traumatic experience of an afternoon’s horse trekking in Colonia (plus the aftermath), here it is.
Since arriving in South America, a few of us had been eyeing up the option of horse trekking at some stage (it wasn’t just a random thing, I used to ride when I was younger, but it HAD been a while…). Tour leader Yogi promised us Colonia was THE place to do it in the ‘In Search of Iguassu’ part of the trip. So on our arrival, and realising most of us were going to be there under 24 hours because we’d decided to head to Buenos Aires on the early fast boat, we were right in there booking the trip as soon as we arrived in the quaint little Uruguayan town.
After lunch the woman who ran the trekking ‘company’ (I only put that in quotes because there were only four horses available…and we later found out our ‘guide’ was a 15 year old boy who didn’t speak any English) came to pick up me, Tracy, Sarah and Laura in her truck. Buckled up, started driving down the road and met some roadworks. What does she do? Drives up on the pavement and carries on on the cycle path. Good start to the afternoon. We’re feeling safe.
We arrive in the field where the horses are, and one of them, a dark brown colt starts rearing at us. Immediately, something tells me this horse is gonna be my problem for the afternoon. I try to befriend it, to the amusement of the others, but he’s having none of it. About ten minutes later, after all the horses are rounded and saddled up, the fear proves to be accurate. The ‘guide’ points at me, points at the brown horse, let´s call him Loco, and I know this afternoon is going to be interesting.
If I learnt anything from riding when I was younger it was never to show a horse your fear, to always show it who’s boss…oh, and if you’re thrown, ALWAYS get straight back on. All these lessons seem slightly pointless as this crazy caballo is not interested in the rules. From the moment we leave the field Loco´s playing up. Crazily running to catch up with Sarah’s horse at the front, then standing stock still in the middle of nowhere, while all the others placidly trot on ahead. With Tracy calling back to me constantly from some hidden point in the distance, ‘Alanna, are you still there?!’ I try talking to it, and coaxing it in Spanish AND English, and at one point thought it was repsonding to ‘Vamos’ and ‘Bueno chico’, but no. After about fifteen minutes it’s clear I have drawn a very short straw. I’m being bitten to death by the mozzies and fleas surrounding it, have been dragged directly into/ through trees and bushes (still have the triple tiger scratch on my arm which everyone keeps commenting on, to remind me), and there is still 2 hours 45 to go of the trek. Surely it can’t get much worse? WRONG?!
We get to a beach, it’s just beyond some boggy water, and all the other horses go through quite happily. See where this is going? Loco puts one hoof in the water, stops. Puts another in. Stops. Starts kicking the water wildly, and then rearing up. I manage to rein him in, but he’s not having that. He starts sinking to his knees, and then begins to roll. The only way out of here without crushed bones is to literally dive into the bog, headfirst. Which is what I do, resulting in some seriously puddle-like shoes and grime-covered clothes.
When we finally make it to the beach, the horses are tied up for a break for a bit. Naively, I thought if Loco is allowed a bit of time to chill, he´ll calm down. Ha-di-ha. No chance. If anything, the second half of the trip he´s worse. The guide keeps whipping him when he stands still, to which his response is to literally gallop half way up the road before skidding to a halt again. Then, mid gallop, turning a corner, he runs stright for Tracy´s horse and a tree, I duck to avoid decapitation, lose one stirrup. Loco knows he´s onto a winner here, turns super fast, rears…. next thing I know I´m hanging upside down from the saddle before being dumped unceremoniously on the roadside, as Loco gallops off at speed, driving Sarah´s horse into a galloping frenzy, and being chased by a pissed-off guide.
After following rule number one – or whichever one always get back in the saddle is – we FINALLY get back to the field. I´ve never been so happy. And the irony? That little sod of a horse starts cosying up to me, trying to make friends. Bit late fella… and if I´d known the crazy animal would cover me in flea bites that drew looks a leper might experience in Buenos Aires, and which forced the hotel to fumigate the room Tracy and I were staying in, I´d never have melted and been nice back to him. CRAZY HORSES, WAAAAHHH!