Aug 10 2011
Quick stepping Paso Fino Horses
We sounded like a military Calvary; quick marching in time. In reality, we were a group of eight riders mounted on Paso Fino horses, crossing a road on horseback. The staccato click of the gaited horses’ metal shoes clattered on the pavement as we crossed the street to the equestrian trail.
We were in Curacao on a horseback riding vacation in the Dutch Caribbean with Criadero El hijo de David. Owner Norman Hugo has about 20 Paso Fino horses on his ranch. And as is typical of different countries, horses are ridden in a different manner than in the United States.
Island time horseback riding vacation
I showed up the first day to go horseback riding to an empty ranch. My driver from the Hyatt Regency Curacao helped locate the manager of the stable, who had no prior knowledge of my reservation. It was requested that I return the next morning at 8:30 a.m. to ride with two other guests. Upon my return, I waited almost two hours for my horseback riding vacation to get underway. The party of two had now grown to seven horseback riders from Cuba. We mounted our horses, riding English Tereque Paso Fino saddles and received basic riding instructions in the arena.
Two young children rode together on one horse. Clearly the younger child riding on the back of the horse was terrified and wanted nothing to do with the horseback ride.
Beautiful horses – different choices
I watched the horses anxiety build as the young adult male riders pulled back on the reins and kicked the horses to move forward. The ranch manager motioned with his hands to calm down and again explained the basics of how to ride a horse. The owner and I lead the pack, dressed in long pants. The novice riders followed, all clad in shorts. None of use were offered or wore riding helmets.
Gaiting – organized chaos on Paso Fino horses
My white stallion, Sanisidro, was a pleasure to ride, as are all Paso Finos, with their smooth gait. We rode through dry land, surrounded by cactus and the hum of singing insects. We passed modest homes with barking dogs behind chain link fences. Eventually, we stopped at a dirt field to rest the horses, rusted mattress frames and garbage flanked parts of the road.
“This is where we let the guests run the horses,” said Hugo. Sure enough, the men in the group ran the horses full tilt. I watched as one of the young men fell off his horse. The horse ran in flight with the man running in hot pursuit. Our guide yelled for him to stop chasing the horse. Once back on the horse, the men continued running in organized chaos. On our ride back to the ranch, two of the men loped their horses on the paved road.
While I found the ride to be chaotic, the Cuban Grandfather and patriarch of the group said how much he enjoyed his horseback ride. One horseback riding vacation, two contrasting view points.
If you love horse riding make sure you ride a Paso Fino horse during your horseback riding vacation in Curacao. Originally from Columbia, the Paso Fino horse is very strong, elegant and has energetic moves. It is the lateral four-beat gait that distinguishes the Paso Fino. As it moves, the horse’s feet fall in a natural lateral pattern instead of the more common diagonal pattern. Rather than trotting, the Paso Fino’s medium speed is referred to as a corto, a smooth, easy stride.
Have you been on a horseback riding holiday in the Dutch Caribbean Island of Curacao? What are your favorite things to do in the Netherlands Antilles or in the Netherlands?
If You Go:
Rancho Criadero Hijo de David (5999) 5102958
Seru Lora naast 175 Curacao NA
Review, photos and YouTube video courtesy of Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip, Travels from Northern California. I was a guest of Criadero El hijo de David and the Curacao Tourist Board.