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Equestrian Tourism: Uruguay

In the last edition we talked about Mongolia and its fascinating and rich history, a history that has been undeniably reliant on the domestication of the horse. Without horses Mongol history would look utterly different. In this post we’re talking about another country that has been shaped by horses and the people who ride them: Uruguay.
Many people haven’t heard of Uruguay. This South American country has only a population of three million people with roughly one-third of them residing in the country’s capital of Montevideo. The country is sandwiched between the two giants of South America, Brazil and Argentina, roughly half-way down the continents eastern side. It has a long and beautiful coastline that is dotted with small fishing villages, a series of sometimes isolated lighthouses, and at least one town known for its partying and nightlife, Punta del Este.
But for the equestrian traveller there are few places on the world as rewarding as Uruguay. Horses are a part of Uruguayan history and to this day horseback riding in Uruguay maintains a prominent part of the country’s identity. About 2.5m people of the country’s 3m live within couple score of the country’s coast, meaning that its vast interior, known simply in the local Spanish as el interior, is largest empty save for sprawling cattle ranches known as estancias. Its these estancias that were the backbone of the country’s economy for most of its history, post-European discovery. Although nowadays Uruguay is turning into something of hub for the headquarters of multinational companies, the cattle industry continues to play a major role in the financial well-being of the county.
It’s nearly impossible to have large ranches without having horses and that was even more so the case in times before the invention of cars. While nowadays it is indeed cars and trucks that do most of the work, there are still plenty of estancias that still use horses. For the equestrian traveller this is good news as it means there are plenty of places to hire a horse in Uruguay.
Whether you’re an expert or a novice the country’s gauchos are more than able to show the visitor a good time on the back of the horse, whether it involves exploring the country’s beautiful interior with its rolling hills or the country’s rugged and charming Atlantic coast. Simply put, it’s another must for anyone who loves horseback riding and travel!