He has had a fond relationship with horses since he was a child, after competing in horse jump tournaments and travelling on the back of a horse from the north to the southern part of Ecuador, Gabriel Espinosa, an expert on equestrian tourism and owner of the La Alegría Farm, shared his horseback experiences and in a detailed manner explained to us why Ecuador is an excellent destination for this activity.
How did your relation with horses start?
Well, relations with horses have been a common factor for all the family, both with my father as well as with my mother. We were raised among horses and the only aspiration that we had was to reach school holidays to take the best horse and ride over the mountains. My first stead was a Creole mare, and that Creole mare was crossed with an English horse named Quebracho and they had a pony that I called Azabache. It was with him that I learned to ride and had the great luck of jumping for several years while receiving training and later I also played polo. My daughters also learned to ride on that horse. This has been the experience of my life. About 16 years ago we started a diversification of the activities of the farm, which is a dairy farm. We started by organizing summer camps for children, where horses were an important matter, and 13 years ago we started the activity of tourism on horseback.
How did this idea of taking advantage of the landscapes of the Andes take shape to make an itinerary for horse riding tours?
I would say that more than taking advantage, it was a matter of discovery. After making several observation trips around the area, I simply got connected to this type of travel and not a day goes by without our discovering something new. If you always follow the same route, several times a year or month, it turns out that you have a series of factors that continuously change, such as the light, the weather or even nature that you never really get to know.
What memorable experience do you have from travelling on horseback?
Seven years ago I had the opportunity of travelling from Carchi to Macará – a trip that traversed the entire country from north to south – and what is etched in my mind is how marvelous are our people. After 34 days of travelling through the mountains, the only thing we received was support, assistance and demonstrations of gratitude. If people can be considered as an asset, I would say that people are the greatest wealth that we have in our country. Additionally, the sensation that I had was how I wish I could have done it at a slower pace, since we had a very tight calendar, with 10 hours per day riding the horse.
We know that you have received persons from different parts of the world to ride a horse in Ecuador. What has been their response?
Well, we are lucky that last year we were qualified by CNN Travel as one of the best fifteen equestrian tourism destinations (the Avenue of Volcanoes).
Somehow, our guests ratify this, since several persons that have travelled on horseback in different parts of the world always place us in the first positions.
What equestrian routes are possible to find in Ecuador?
What is interesting of Ecuador is that, since we have two parallel mountain ranges, there is the possibility of travelling along them from the beginning to the end, and considering the different latitudes, we have hundreds of possible paths in Ecuador. I am not able to select specific routes, but there are thousands of possibilities. In my case, since I have my base in the Mejía canton (south of Quito), we have nine volcanoes around us and we have explored most of them. In Ecuador, you can ride a horse up to the edge of the rocks, reaching more or less 4.200 masl, where we can see beautiful valleys dotted with farms, cloud forests, moorlands and many other Andean scenarios.
For more information: http://www.haciendalaalegria.com/