Horse Riding Vacation in Mexico

Old Aug 12th, 2009, 08:05 PM
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Horse Riding Vacation in Mexico

I’ve just returned from a weeklong horse riding holiday in Mexico state at Rancho Las Cascadas. From reading the postings I'm not sure that there is much interest in this type of Mexican vacation, but thought I would post anyway so that people are aware that the option exists.

The check-in procedure for my AeroMexico flight from Los Angeles was routine, the flight lasted about three hoursand a half hours. It was raining with thunder and lightning as we approached MEX and I later learned that the city typically experiences late afternoon downpours in the summer.

Terminal 2 is large bright and airy, and as we waited in line for the immigration desks, there was an employee to help passengers fill out the necessary forms (which were printed in Spanish only), and video screens also demonstrated how to fill in the forms. Security officers were very visible, and I saw none of the disorder, chaos or general lawlessness I had been led to expect by friends and the media. All told I had my bags and was ready to leave the airport in less than an hour.

The ranch had sent a car to pick me up outside exit number four, and it pulled up less than 10 minutes after I arrived at the location. Rancho Las Cascadas is in the state of Mexico, but outside of Mexico city. With the rain and heavy traffic it was a two hour ride to the ranch. The surrounding countryside was pitch black, so my assessment of the location had to wait until the next morning. We arrived at about 10 PM and it was a nice surprise to have sandwiches waiting in my room, as I was starving.

At breakfast the next morning, I met the other guests who were a mix of Americans and Canadians, with riding capabilities ranging from fair to expert. I think I was the only true novice, and I was quite happy to be assigned my own guide as I would have had a very difficult time keeping up with the others. I was measured for the saddle and lent a hat, saddle bag and leg wraps (forget what they’re called) and after a few brief instructions from Uschi, the ranch owner, we set off. Most of the staff speak no English, so a learning a few words of Spanish would be very useful. The setting of the ranch is in gorgeous, rural farming countryside, and each ride opened up new vistas. The route of my first ride typically takes an hour to complete, but ended up lasting nearly three (with a break in the middle for a soda), because I was so slow. I only realized this fact later as the guide never made any complaint about the pace, but went with the flow. Most of the crop grown in the area is maize, but there were a few fields of beans and some other things that I didn't recognise. Farmers would wave from the fields while keeping an eye on the grazing cows and sheep.

The ranch is justifiably proud of their horses, and indeed these were the friendliest horses I have ever met, willingly coming up to the fence of their corral to greet whoever happened by. Handing out lumps of sugar made the greeting even warmer.
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Old Aug 12th, 2009, 10:12 PM
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That sounds really nice. Thanks for posting about it.
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Old Aug 13th, 2009, 05:19 AM
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Prior to my arrival I had a difficult time trying to decide if my booking should be as rider or non-rider. Uschi convinced me to book as a rider and it turns out she was right. The riding was balanced by optional trips to nearby towns and sites. A visit to Jilotepec on market day was one option for a trip, and while most of the market consisted of regular household goods that held little interest for me, I really enjoyed the food section which had tons of fresh produce, most of which I had never seen before. I bought fresh figs, pomegranate seeds, cactus berries (?), wild honey, and cashews. There was also fish smoked in corn husks, and a special seasonal corn fungus for sale. The hot food vendors were doing brisk business. I bought a beef taco, but did not enjoy it very much because of the tripe etc that was mixed in with it. I think I would have enjoyed a simple cheese sope much more.

The next day I went out for both a morning and evening ride, with time for lunch and a siesta in between. In the morning my guide and I were accompanied by an English speaking employee whose instructions on how to ride improved my technique immensely. We rode through the ruins of a majestic hacienda and stopped by a scenic creek with pools and cascades sheltered by huge oak trees.
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Old Aug 13th, 2009, 05:58 AM
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Femi, loving your TR. I'm a very experienced rider and have done a couple equitours as have a couple other fodorites. We'll all enjoy reading this! Thanks again and please continue.
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Old Aug 13th, 2009, 06:02 PM
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Thanks to the both of you for the comments.Do let me know if you have any questions, otherwise it feels like I'm just rambling.

The following morning was taken up by a market day visit to Tepotzotlan. This town is popular with daytrippers from Mexico City, and has several stalls which specialize in handicrafts by local artisans. The market square is bordered by restaurants and a church connected to a former Jesuit school which is now a museum, officially called the National Museum of the Viceroy Period. The museum was a pleasant surprise for me, and the highlight of my visit to the town, unfortunately there is no information for those who do not speak or read Spanish. There are supposedly guided tours available in English, but these must be booked in advance.

On my afternoon ride I began to notice that each time we went out, the terrain we covered became more challenging. Here is where I learned to do what I had been told by Uschi and the other riders all along; Trust the horse. I rode a total of three horses during my stay which Ushchi encouraged because she said it was bettr to learn how to ride and adjust to the different horses rather than stick to one. Sure enough each had his advantages; Calypso was extremely sure-footed on rocks and gravel and picked his way up and down slippery hills with care. When it came to cantering, in spite of his name, Machete had a ‘soft’ ride which I found to be much more tolerable.
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Old Aug 15th, 2009, 05:10 PM
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I chose to spend my last day visiting San Miguel de Allende. Having heard so much about the town, this was the trip I looked forward to the most, and because of my expectations, it proved to be the biggest disappointment. I found the traffic and crowds jarring, but Uschi Pointed out that it was probably the contrast with the countryside that I found jarring, and that if I had visited San Miguel prior to my stay on the ranch, I may have enjoyed it a bit more. I was also feeling a bit run down, because the day before I had tried some corn from a roadside stand which didn’t really agree with me. I suppose I was pushing my luck after having eaten without a problem at the market in Jilotepec. Esquites consists of corn off the cobb seasoned with lime juice, mild chili powder, some sort of crumbly white cheese, and what looked like sour cream (which I suspect may have been the source of my problems). While I had no dramatic side-effects, I wasn’t myself the next day, and the best parts of my visit to San Miguel were the quiet rest spots my guide found. Later a few people told me that if corn is eaten too young or not ripe enough it could cause the symptoms I described.

For my final day in Mexico I made plans to spend my last hours before the evening flight on a tour of Mexcio City. Uschi made arrangements for a car and driver/guide and the tour consisted of visits to the metropolitan cathedral, the national palace and the Museum of Anthropology before I was dropped off at he airport.
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Old Aug 15th, 2009, 05:48 PM
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Thanks for reporting on a very interesting and different type of trip!

MY
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