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Riders on horseback. Club Deportivo Jarahonda
Sightseeing in Spain... on the trot
Travel

Sightseeing in Spain... on the trot

Ride through idyllic landscapes, discover old castles and even enjoy the stars. Equestrian tourism in the Sierra de Guadarrama is not lacking in charm

Javier Márquez

Madrid

Friday, 26 April 2024, 16:49

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It may seem that equestrian tourism has always been around. There is no rural destination we might go to where we do not find a company offering 'horseback riding routes through...'. However, that is like saying that taking a walk in front of the façade of several museums is cultural tourism. In other words, equestrian tourism is not 'just' horseback riding. In recent years, companies across Spain are taking seriously the development of this type of tourism that allows you to enjoy getting to know regions of great natural beauty and historical value accompanied by one of the noblest and most interesting animals.

Exploring the Sierra de Guadarrama on horseback.
Exploring the Sierra de Guadarrama on horseback. Club Deportivo Jarahonda

In addition, experts agree that horse riding has both physical and psychological benefits. It improves balance, neuromotor coordination and body posture for example, as well as strengthening the body's musculature. It helps to reinforce self-esteem and individual confidence, improves attention, concentration and self-control, in addition to raising awareness of respect for animals and nature.

In the Parque Nacional de Guadarrama in Madrid, the Club Deportivo Jarahonda (rutasacaballomadrid.es) has been offering a wide range of equestrian proposals for all ages and levels of difficulty for more than a decade. Just 45 kilometres from Madrid, this group of horse riding enthusiasts, which ended up becoming a club in 2010, offers everything necessary for those who want to enjoy an unforgettable day or even for those who decide to take it more seriously and train to become more proficient.

Thanks to its wonderful surroundings, immersed in the mountains but close to cultural sites such as San Lorenzo de El Escorial or Segovia, the club's experienced equestrian tourism professionals ensure that the route is both interesting and safe.

The club is not an equestrian centre, it does not have stables, dressage arenas or any other type of facilities; it is a group of enthusiasts who have sporting experience, having participated with great success in competitions of different equestrian disciplines.

From two hours

The club's proposals are divided into both short and long routes. The former range from two hours, for beginners, to six or seven hours, which require a medium or high level. The long routes take at least two days on the trail and are the most attractive if you want to enjoy a truly immersive experience in a natural setting.

An example of this type of route is the Puerto de la Fuenfría, which leaves Navacerrada in the direction of Valsaín (Segovia), crossing the aforementioned pass in the middle of the Parque Nacional de Guadarrama. The Puerto de la Fuenfría is a mountain pass that crosses the mountain range joining the provinces of Segovia and Madrid. It has an altitude of 1,796 metres and it crosses the Roman road, the so-called 'carretera de la República', the forest track of La Calle Alta and trails that ascend to nearby mountains.

Horse riding is an enjoyable way to see the countryside.
Horse riding is an enjoyable way to see the countryside. Club Deportivo Jarahonda

The main path follows the aforementioned 'carretera de la República', also called 'carretera Puricelli', originally used by the Spanish kings to travel from Madrid to Segovia and restored during the Second Spanish Republic (between 1931 and 1939) to create a route between the two cities. Ernest Hemingway quotes it in his classic 'For Whom the Bell Tolls'.

The journey continues to Valsaín, where King Felipe II built the palace known as the Casa del Bosque on the foundations of an old hunting lodge. The night is spent there before returning the following morning.

The long routes on offer do not all run through the mountains of Madrid. They are other equestrian tourism routes through the Reserva Natural de Saja (Cantabria), Los Montes Universales (Sierra de Albarracin) and the route that follows the steps of Emperor Carlos V on his journey to the Monasterio de Yuste, where he spent the last years of his life, and which begins in the town of Barco de Ávila (in the Sierra de Gredos).

Equestrian astrology

But if history is not our forte, horses can also accompany us in another type of equally exciting and even more original experience. This is the case of equestrian astrology. In the Sierra de Guadarrama, several equestrian centres (such as hipicapradosmonteros.com or losciruelos.es) offer the possibility of nighttime riding routes to reach ideal places for observing the celestial vault.

These experiences include a fun dinner under the stars, as well as guides who help both in dealing with the horses and in the observation and identification of the stars overhead.

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