I learnt to ride with the Pony Club, an august body wedded – in those days at least – to straight backs, hard hats and two hands on the reins, which, I discovered, is not how they ride in the tropical forests of Brazil’s Costa Verde. I was somewhat taken aback, I admit, but by the time I’d galloped across an open plain with the wind in my hair, I had vowed never to wear a riding hat again. And once we reached the forest, I discovered that I needed a spare hand to fend off the banana leaves.
Mr A and I were holidaying in Paraty, a 17th-century port town a few hours’ drive from Rio de Janeiro, and this ride was his surprise birthday gift. Mr A is something of a thrill seeker, so I had asked our guide for a pair of feisty mounts and a challenging route. And he did not disappoint.
Our horses were in high-spirits and within half an hour, Mr A’s had sunk up to its stomach in a bog, depositing him neatly into the muddy undergrowth. And the fun didn’t stop there – we crossed rivers, raced up rocky paths between the guava trees and clambered down steep tracks as monkeys screeched. And to cap it all, after two hours of hot trekking, we stopped for a swim in a waterfall. Sun-drying ourselves on the rocks afterwards, we agreed that, as riding trips went, this one would be hard to beat.
Our three-hour ride with Paraty Tours cost £84 per person and was organised through Original Travel.