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Last Update: 06 Aug 2010
Riding Holidays | Brazil
Horse riding vacations in Brazil take place mainly along the coastal areas or in the southern states and the Pantanal region, which is South America's equivalent of the Okavango Delta in Botswana. Did you know that Brazil ranks 4th in the world in terms of horse population? Horses are very widespread throughout the country, but particularly so in the cattle ranching areas of the south.
Brazil horse ranch holidays offer one of the few remaining opportunities to join a genuine traditional cattle drive. Large herds of livestock are moved long distances from fazendas (ranches) deep in the Pantanal to stock yards at the road and rail heads. With their bright orange sheepskin covered saddles and long chain whips the gauchos are an amazing sight. Many fazendas also take in guests much like the dude ranches of North America. Along with canoeing, horseback is one of the best ways to traverse the wetlands of the Pantanal. The Pantanal is a haven for wildlife. Ranching here is not intensive and so the animals, cayman, capybara, anteaters and giant otters amongst others, are allowed to co-exist with the cattle. Join a Pantanal Experience ride and explore two fazendas to the west of Campo Grande all on horseback.
Although ranch vacations in Brazil are very popular, there are also some lovely horse trail rides to try in Brazil. In Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil’s southernmost state you can enjoy spectacular mountain scenery on the Canyons and Waterfalls ride. Close to Rio de Janeiro is Darwin’s Trail a ride which follows the routes taken by Charles Darwin when he explored the rain forests of Brazil. In addition there are other equestrian holidays in Brazil which offer beach riding.
The National horse of Brazil is the Mangalarga Marchador. This breed is one of the largest in the world with 350,000 registered horses in Brazil and over 800 in Europe. The Mangalarga Marchador breed was started in Brazil in 1822 by Gabriel Francisco Junqueira, baron of Alfenas. It is descended from Alter Real stallions gifted to the baron by the Emperor of Brazil, which he then bred with local horses, mostly of Barb descent. The breed has the classic Iberian traits of beauty and intelligence with a good disposition. Our Brazilian horse riding holidays are run by Paulo Junqueira, of the same family (he is the great, great, grandson of Gabriel Junqueira’s sister!).
The Mangalarga Marchador is a very comfortable riding horse, known for its two extra natural gaits in addition to the normal horse gaits of walk, trot, canter and gallop. The Marcha Picada is a very smooth gait with little vertical movement and so extremely comfortable for the rider. It has a similar feel to the Peruvian Paso Llano gait. The Marcha Batida is a diagonal four beat gait similar to the Trocha in the Paso Fino horse breed. While some Mangalarga horses will naturally express one of these Marcha gaits, in others the movement can be brought out with careful rider influence. The Mangalarga Marchador horses in our Brazil rides have the Marcha Batida gait as these horse also tend to have a more comfortable canter than Marcha Picada gaited horses.