South American Velvet

by Liz Caskey on July 14, 2011

Horses and horseback riding are a huge part of South American culture. From the Chilean huasos, cowboys, in the Central Valley to the baqueanos down in Patagonia, the horse is revered, respected, and loved from north to south in Chile and beyond. In Argentina, Uruguay, and Southern Brazil, the gaucho is an iconic figure, deeply engrained in the collective national nostalgia and not uncommon to see even in urban settings. Sports-wise? Rodeo and polo are almost as big as soccer with national championships every year and television stations dedicated to following them.

Who doesn’t admire horses? They are elegant, beautiful, smart creatures. I didn’t always have this admiration for them nor a desire to get on one. When I moved to South America I had rode once as a kid. And not very well I may add. Since horseback riding offers one of the best perspectives for seeing Chile’s mountainous terrain, in 2005, I decided I was going to get over my fear once and for all. I rode again and again. As we opened destinations, it seemed like I got to ride more and more frequently over all kinds of terrains and all types of horses. My confidence grew, it became fun, exhilarating, something I would look forward to.  Isn’t it funny how sometimes our biggest fears give birth to new opportunities and passions? And yes, I now love to ride.

Here are some pictures captured with my husband on a few of our many rides in the Atacama, Patagonia, wine country, and recently at Estancia Colomé in Salta. There were so many photos it was hard to pick let alone describe. I will let the images do the talking. When traveling to South America, it doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or advanced rider. Look at riding as all about penetrating the gorgeous landscape and connecting to it on on another living being. It’s so profound, relaxing, gorgeous.  Ahh…Enjoy.

p.s. The name was inspired by National Velvet, a Technicolor movie from 1944 with Liz Taylor.