Sunday, January 19, 2014

Alps by Horseback!

A fascinating journey on horseback, crossing the Alps!
Thank you Ana Cláudia Mairhofer and Agro Maripá for sharing your amazing journey!

(c) Story & Photos copyright by : Agro Maripá  

! ALPS One more time we set ourselves in another adventure with our horses Patek and Urano de Maripá. This time we crossed the Alps with our friends Astrid Oberniedermayr and Dieter Mader, both riding Ourofino El Far.Since the horses are based in Morlenbach, Germany, taking part on the Vitrine of the Mangalarga Marchador Project, and due to the exceptional performance of Patek’s and Urano’s on the Santiago Way, in Spain, in May last year, we have decided to test them again.

We left Lechbruck, Bavaria, South of Germany, on a rainy and cold, (around 9oC) morning, May 13th 2012. Seven days and 240km later we arrived in Castel Juval, Northern Italy, where we ended our trip. We rode through Oberammergau, Lermoos, Imst, Lafairs, Reschen, Laas. Once more our horses bet themselves proving all their resilience, courage, docility, providing us with great pleasure during the whole trip. They have not only improved our repertoire but also enriched our genetics knowledge.

On the first day, Sunday, May 13th, after leaving Lechbruck, we rode to Wieskirsche, The Pilgrimage Church of the Scourged Saviour, at the foot of the Alps, considered one of the most perfect examples of Bavarian rococo architecture. At the end of the day and 27km later we arrived at Oberammergau, little village famous for its production of a Passion Play performed every ten years, as well as for its wood carves. The Oberammergau Passion Play was first performed in 1634 and is the result of a vow made by the inhabitants of the village that if God spared them from the effects of the bubonic plague then sweeping the region they would perform a passion play every ten years.

Second day, Monday May 14th, we left at around 9 in the morning and from Oberammergau we rode to Lermoos, Austrian village in the Tirol area, 35km away. On this day, during the whole ride we had a privileged view of the Zugspitze, the highest mountain in Germany. Gorgeous trail, on valleys in the midst of the mountains, crossing thaw lakes and rivers and yellow flowered meadows. Breathtaking landscapes! Horses in great shape!

From Lermoos, on the third day we rode to Imst, 27km away. This one a rather difficult trail, on “Via Claudia”, a Roman Way that passes through the most beautiful places, one of them the Fernstein Lake and its turquoise waters, located in the midst of the Wetterstein Mountains.

Fourth day dawned extremely cold, snowy, windy. We then opted to send the horses on the truck to the next destination, Lafairs, 40km away, where the weather was milder. We drove there, had lunch at the hotel, and then rode around 18km in the afternoon in the surroundings of the hotel.

Fifth day, ride from Lafairs to Reschen, about 30km away. Gorgeous sunny day, although very cold. Beautiful trip! Again stunning landscapes during the whole tour, passing by Altfinstermünz, a castle literally squeezed between the mountain and the river. We crossed the border with Italy and then rode through Vinschgau Valley, the valley around the river Adige, South Tirol. We arrived at the end of the day to a little hotel by Reschen Lake, run by a family. We had a delicious and fun dinner overlooking a beautiful sunset in front of us at the other side of the lake, remembering the stories of the day! Good food and beautiful photos “catch of the day”made by our friend Sabine Stuewer!

Sixth day, 35km ride from Reschen to Laas. We rode through Vinschgau Valley, crossing apple plantations and little villages. Beautiful day, much warmer, beautiful mountains on the left and on the right sides, the Ötztal Alps. Our horses keeping their excellent condition so far! They are really in great shape, forward and without any symptom of stress!

On this seventh and last day of ride, Saturday, May 19th, we rode 28km from Laas to Castel Juval, our final destination. Warm sunny day, around 20oC. This was a “flat ride” as we kept riding on the Vinschgau Valley, crossing many apple plantations. We stopped for lunch on a typical Tyrolean restaurant on the mountains, rode back down to the valley and kept our track to Castle Juval. This one was quite a climb, the ride uphill to access to the Castle! Narrow trail, full of loose stones, and really steep. I am not comfortable in steep places like that one, so I didn’t dare look down one single moment. But my horse Urano, who was not disturbed at all by that, had a memorable performance. So did Patek. They both got up there at the castle 20 minutes later as if nothing different had happened. Evidence of this is a little movie our friend Tiziana Ricci made with her cell phone of our horses climbing up another little track to get upper hill on a nice spot in front of the entrance of the castle and pose for Sabine’s cameras!

Our friends, Astrid Oberniedermayr, president of the European Association of Mangalarga Marchador - EAMM - and Dieter Mader, director of sports and training, coordinated the entire project providing the necessary logistics. This structure was essential to the success of our Ride in the Alps. Unforgettable trip!

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