By Emma. Cliquez ici pour l’article de Damien. Click here for photos of there.
Somehow, I was never one of those girls who collected horsey magazines and had the walls of her bedroom plastered in posters of show-ponies. Peering through the mists of time, I remember going to horse-riding lessons with my cousin when I was about ten. Hard peeked helmets, jodhpurs, shiny black boots, the constraints of a paddock and a complete failure to ever master a smooth rising trot, rosette contender I never was. Happily, Chile is cowboy country and I don’t think cowboys go in much for a rising trot!
At Antilco’s estancia (ranch, yes, ranch! Whee!), we meet our steeds for the day. Damien is paired with Treinta y ocho and I with Auka. I eye her a little warily when I hear that “auka” means “wild one” in Mapudungun, the language of the indigenous Mapuche people. The horses here are mountain beasts, initially left wild so that they become confident and sure-footed on the stone, ice and snow trails of the hills in Chile. Auka is incredibly patient with my blundering and within minutes, she has my complete adoration.
Bobbing along on the sheepskin Chilean saddle strung across my beautiful roan’s back, I’m incredibly happy. It’s impossible not to be. The sky is an amazing blue, our path winds through mountain woodlands and rivers, Auka smells of grass and warm leather, and Damien is clearly delighted with himself jigging along on his piebald beside me. Our horses whicker to each other and our wonderful guides urge us into a gallop. With absolutely no hesitation, I nudge Auka on and she takes off. I’m laughing like a loon as I cling to her mane, loving the world and the view through Auka’s ears!