Yesterday, I went for a cabalgata, or a horseback ride, in Bariloche to celebrate my last day. I arrived at the stables to find seven girls from Israel as my horseback riding mates, all chatting rapidly and obviously freaking out in Hebrew about getting on the horses. I don’t think any of them had ridden before. I watched from a distance as the guide convinced them each that the horse would not gallop away with them on its back and coaxed each girl onto the back of the horse. One got up, and started screaming as soon as the horse took a step forwards. Another screamed when the horse shook its head a bit. Through all this madness, the guide asked if ANYONE had experience riding a horse. “Yo sí,” I piped up, sensing an opportunity. The guide pulled a huge white mare out from the shade under the trees. “This is usually the guide’s horse,” he told me, “But you can ride her today!”
Mora, my horse, towered above all of the brown horses that the Israeli girls were riding. White and lightly dappled dark gray, she was the exact manifestation of the horses that I used to draw or look at pictures of when I was younger. I stuck my foot in the stirrup and launched myself into the saddle. I could feel the strength and power of the horse, and we walked and steered a bit around the stable just to test it out. She was incredibly responsive, so from that moment on I just tuned out the screams of the Israeli girls, who would scream “Claudio!” (the guide’s name) even just when dogs started barking at us through the fence, and enjoyed the ride.
We arrived at the top of the hill to see beautiful views of the lakes and rocky mountains of Bariloche. Then, as we turned around to go down the hill, the guide told me to lead while he took care of the rest of the horses. I took the lead with one of the Israeli girls who had a fast horse and clearly felt a bit fed up with her friends. Now, Mora and I could do anything, including trotting quite a bit. I had never ridden a horse and not been stuck in a line behind a guide, so the freedom, especially with the guide’s horse, drew me in. I could imagine just steering Mora off the trail and galloping off to explore Patagonia on horseback. Maybe the farm in Cholila will be more like that, or if not, I will come back to fulfill that dream someday.