It is impossible to visit Patagonia without noticing the beautiful well kept horses that one sees almost everywhere. Nearly every town has a statue on the central square of a pioneer figure on his horse with a dog trailing behind.
It is clear that the horses of Patagonia are valued by their owners. What is most interesting is that horses are even today used as working animals. One often sees gauchos (local cowboys or farm hands) on their horses herding cattle near to or along the road. Every farm uses horses for daily cores. One wonders why horses are seldom being used as working animals on farms in South Africa. In Patagonia horses are regarded as part of a sustainable approach to farming (read more about sustainability here ….).
One of the highlights of our trip was an encounter with an extended family on a Saturday morning outride on their horses. The patriarch carrying an Argentinean flag was leading the group on his fine horse. Right behind him were two women, the one was holding a baby on her lap. Following her was a little boy of at the most five years old, riding his own horse, a beautiful big animal. There were about twenty horses with their riders greeting us as they passed. A boisterous group of young men at the back of the cavalcade were jovially shouting ” where are you from?” Sūd Africa, our son Tiaan shouted back, and one of the last in the group lifted his hat as he passed. The whole group were dressed as gauchos, which made them look as though they came from an old time movie with thick sheepskin layers under their saddles. It really felt as though we were taken back in time. This brief encounter was one of the highlights of our trip, one that we often still talk about.
It is no wonder that Argentina has the top polo team in the world.