Between the Ears in Barcelona—Riding in Catalonia
Equitrekking contributor Huia of @three.mares recounts a horseback riding holiday with a friend in Catalonia, Spain.
A summertime trip to Barcelona with my lovely Canadian-Kiwi friend Kathy just had to include a horse riding experience! We used Google to choose Hípica d’Órrius and to my delight booking a horse ride was very easy, and I got friendly clear instructions on where we would be collected from. We took a cheap, convenient cab and were met by two friendly guys who gathered our group together and piled us into a van for the 40-minute drive out of Barcelona.
Hípica d’Órrius is right next to a gorgeous little Catalan village brimming with bougainvillea and whitewashed houses, and adjacent to the natural wilderness Parc Natural de la Serralada Litoral; so the horse treks offer the best of both wild spaces and pretty village scenery.
At Hípica d’Órrius, the horse riding experience is very personal. You begin by greeting and grooming your horse and saddling up. The ethos is that to work with animals, you must have respect, confidence, and prudence. The horses are very beautiful; and include Andalusian, Arab, Lusitano, and Irish Cob breeds. As well as providing trail-riding experiences, the team at the equestrian center run riding lessons and holiday programmes for children, and compete in dressage and endurance.
Grooming Tom before our ride. Photo by @three.mares
I had explained that I hoped to ride a Spanish horse, so I was incredibly grateful when the manager Alex offered me his own horse Tom, a gorgeous bay Arabian Spanish cross. The most incredible thing about this was that back in New Zealand two months previously I had followed Hípica d’Órrius on Instagram, and liked a photo of this very horse!
Riding Tom, an Arabian Spanish cross. Photo by @three.mares
I didn’t realize until I posted a photo of Tom to @three.mares and @hipica_orrius replied, “I am happy to hear that you love my horse!” How wonderful that Instagram can connect riders around the world! I do love the online friendships we strike up across distances over our mutual love for horses.
Kathy hadn’t ridden in the last 10 years, so we were really happy to meet her horse – an absolutely beautiful grey Andalusian with just the right amount of gentle spirit to truly reignite her passion for riding!
Kathy and her new Andalusian friend. Photo by @three.mares
Our ride began in the arena where we were guided through walk and trot and reminded of the basics of horse riding. The consideration of the horses’ wellbeing was exceptional. Alex suggested that I canter Tom and get a feel for him – he was a real treat to ride and it was extra special to be riding under the Catalan sun, with the Spanish dust rising under his hooves!
We headed out and not far along the trail passed a stunning and ferocious black Andalusian stallion that raced about his corral snapping his teeth, ears back. Our horses calmly passed this savage display, but gave the loud machinery being used to trim the roadside a wide berth and a good stare!
Quickly, we entered the national park and the glorious scent of hot pine needles filled the air. Our trail wound up the hillside through the forest and emerged into a meadow of wildflowers. The scenery was just beautiful, and every horse was very well trained. The novice riders in our group had no issues and everyone could simply relax and enjoy the view. As we neared the end of the ride we passed through the whitewashed village of Órrius, where locals waved from their balconies and the horse’s hooves clip-clopped prettily on the cobblestones. One bougainvillea was so bright and exuberant that Tom stopped of his own accord to stare at the splash of purple flowers!
Tom breathes in the beautiful bougainvillea. Photo by @three.mares
Riding the sun-soaked streets of Orrius in Catalonia, Spain. Photo by @three.mares
The midsummer’s day was very hot, so the ride was just the right length that we all felt thoroughly satisfied, but also ready for a cool drink when we arrived back to the riding center. I washed Tom down and talked with Alex while happily chattering children from the holiday class lined up with their ponies behind us. Meanwhile, a very welcome lunch was set out on checked tablecloths in the shade and we sat to talk about the ride, watch the center’s kitten and puppy wrestle, and enjoy the meal together.
The riding experience at Hípica d’Órrius was a lovely blend of quality horses, discipline, hospitality, good food and stunning vistas. We highly recommend it!
About the Author: Huia shares her small farm with three mares (@three.mares)– Summer (Thoroughbred), Juno (Quarter Horse), and Trijntje (Friesian Sporthorse). She taught herself to ride at 11 and has come full circle - through pony club, eventing, motherhood, and natural horsemanship, she has come to see that the techniques she used as a child still hold true – that trust is central to everything with horses, and for them to trust you, you first need to trust yourself. Read more on her website, Three Mares.