We share our farm with 20 horses, all of them Criollo Chilenos and cross breeds. While some of them are registered, most are "ordinary" working horses. Our horses roam and graze freely throughout several paddocks: a 12-acre pasture on the riverside; a vast, 70-acre field in the mountains; and several smaller 2-acre paddocks beside the house. They range free as a herd all year round and have an open stable available to them where they can seek shelter during the winter. During the summer months, rich pasture and plentiful grass form the staple of their diets, though we supplement with corn and oats when they work. In winter, due to the slow growth of grass in these rough mountains, we feed additional hay.
The Criollo Chileno is the oldest registered breed in South America. They descend from the Iberian horses the Spaniards brought when they conquered Southern America.
These horses have evolved in conjunction with the landscape and are perfectly adapted to mountain trekking. Short, with a low center of balance, they are ideal for the steep ascents and descents of the Chilean Andes
The word "Criollo" basically means a mixture of Spanish and native parts. This may refer to food, customs, horses and even people. Criollo Chileno must not be confused with other Criollo Breeds such as the Criollo Argentino, which has a similar name but is very different.
Criollos are astoundingly sure-footed and agile horses, crossing uneven and rocky ground smoothly and without tripping. They are a rather unshakeable breed, not head-shy or easily scared, and are not made nervous by thunder, dogs or flashing cameras. Horses have a tendency to form intimate connections with their riders which you may notice on a short 3-4 hour ride, but you will certainly note it on the several-day rides when horse and rider have enough time to get to know one another.
A video by Hannes Häfner, brother of our years long main guide Carmen. Besides our horses and our arrieros Luis and Aldo you get to know some more neighbors and landscape. Sorry- no subs, just pretty images.
Enjoy some impressions of our horses: the morning on the paddock, out riding and finishing the evening on their mountain pasture. A video by our guide in the 2016-17 season Lotte.