In 2023, we went to Argentina, for many reasons: Culture, language, food, and horse riding.
Yes, you read that right. We went to Argentina to learn to ride horses. Horses are great. I didn’t know much about them before, but I learned that one can bond with a horse much like one can with a regular pet dog, except that a horse is also trained to help you out.
Riding a horse is a symbiotic activity. The horse won’t do anything that it doesn’t want to do, and I can’t force it — I have to understand what it’s willing to do, and coax it to help it get there.
It may seem like not an obvious choice to learn horse riding in Argentina of all places, so you might be wondering:
- Why go to Argentina to learn to ride horses?
- What do you need to know to learn horse riding in Argentina?
- How did it go?
Here’s a quick overview.
Why Go to Argentina to Learn Horse Riding?
Briefly, you can learn horse riding in many parts of the world. But it’s expensive! So, once we got a taste for it, we thought: Let’s go learn to ride a horse somewhere more affordable.
Assuming you’re earning foreign currency (dollars, euros, etc.), you can get excellent instruction in some parts of the world, plus find scenic opportunities to practise your skill, for a much more reasonable price.
If you want to learn horse riding in Europe, Australia, or the US, you can expect to pay a lot. It depends on where you are and what kind of school you go to, but we’ve paid as much as US$80 for a 30-minute private lesson.
Argentina has a long history and culture of equestrianism. In the countryside, people still ride horses, particularly in rural areas. This is generally the case across many countries in Latin America.
So there’s a wide variety of not just horse riding schools, but also horse riding experiences. It’s fairly easy to find places outside major cities where you can go, stay for days, and go on horse riding treks.
You could ride horses in many parts of Latin America, but we also just wanted to go to Argentina because we had heard so much about it — the culture, the difference with Argentinian Spanish, the lifestyle — it sounded great.
Despite looking forward to it, Argentina managed to surprise us. We fell in love. Here’s an article I wrote on all the ways in which Argentina surprised me.
Where to Learn Horse Riding in Argentina
There are a number of schools in Argentina where you can learn to ride a horse.
We chose Escuela Hipocampo, in central Buenos Aires, quite near the airport. They had a good website and Instagram and were responsive to our questions.
Escuela Hipocampo is a popular school with big fields. It definitely seems a bit “premium”. There were some very fancy equestrians there, doing things including advanced acrobatics. Here we were trying to maintain our composure in a seated trot, and others were doing handstands on their horses!
Many international people come there, either to do just one lesson or a pony ride for their kids, or for more extended tuition. It was easy to see that you’d have to be a bit of a well-to-do Argentinian to afford their services.
The quality of instruction was very good. The teachers were flexible and accommodated our requests. Our teacher, Patricia, had loads of experience in horse riding and instruction, and knew how to address many of our mistakes.
Compared to our previous teachers in Australia (who were private instructors teaching 1:1), we found every instructor at Escuela Hipocampo more attentive, with many pointers on what to improve. We had things to work on even in our very last lessons.
We also had a few other stand-in teachers when Patricia was away and we liked them all, every single one.
How Much Do Horse Riding Lessons Cost in Argentina
Since the Argentinian Peso is constantly being devalued (with triple digit inflation), the best guide we can give for what we paid was around US$12 per person per lesson, or around US$100 a month for one lesson a week. Usually, our lessons were just the two of us, so they were effectively private group lessons.
Bear in mind that for many Argentinians, this is a lot of money. As we constantly say, things in Argentina are only relatively cheap if you’re earning foreign currency, so I can not say it’s “cheap” by any means.
In fact, we started to feel like it was quite expensive! We adapted to local prices, and it started feeling like we were paying, for every month in lessons, roughly what many people earn in a month. Once you’ve eaten enough delicious empanadas that cost about $0.50 each (for really good ones), your mental sense of value starts to adjust.
However, what’s inevitably true is that learning to ride horses in Argentina is still a lot cheaper than in many other parts of the world.
We asked around at a few other schools. You can pay more or less, but there’s not a huge range. So I’d just choose whichever school you can get to reasonably conveniently.
How did it go?
In total we took just over 20 lessons, each of about 1 hour (but including set-up and warm-up time).
When we arrived, we didn’t even know how to trot comfortably. By the time we left, we could not only trot without thinking about it, but we could transition to a seated trot with ease, and navigate around the fields confidently.
By the end, we both were starting to gallop — but it was pretty hairy. In part, this was because we were still on beginner horses (one teacher explained to me that my horse was less comfortable galloping in one direction than I was), but we still have far to go. I think I’m months of bi-weekly instruction away from a comfortable gallop.
Still, we felt really good. It definitely got our taste for it!
In the end, I developed quite a bit of attachment to my horse Capitán. He was a faithful friend, and I appreciated him being patient with me over the four months.
If you want to learn to ride a horse in Argentina, then the only thing I’d recommend is that you get the appropriate gear out of the country, before you go there.
Prices in Argentina are weird. Imported goods are very expensive, and hard to find. There’s no easy to way to buy things online if you’re a foreigner — there’s no Amazon equivalent (there’s Mercado Libre, but you can’t use that without a local residency card).
So before you go, head over to Amazon and pick up these things.
Note — we earn a small commission if you choose to buy through these links (which otherwise, Amazon keeps for themselves).
- A simple equestrian helmet
- A riding crop (a.k.a. “whip”) — necessary for controlling speed (you don’t actually whip the orse)
- Half chaps (leg covers, a.k.a. “gaiters”) — these prevent friction between your calves and the saddle
- Athletic pants (if you don’t have them) — either yoga pants or golf pants, or best case, riding breeches (jodhpurs), if you’re really committed
You also need boots with a heel, Rain boots are fine. But other leather boots would also work, if you own them. (I wore motorcycle boots that I happened to own.)
Horse Riding Vocabulary in Spanish
If you do learn to ride horses in a Spanish-speaking country, you need to know some horse riding vocabulary!
While we went in to our classes knowing Spanish, we did have to learn a lot of new words and phrases. Here they are in a nutshell, with examples where relevant.
|Horse riding||La equitación||Me encanta la equitación.|
|A horse||Un caballo||¡Qué bello el caballo ese!|
|To ride a horse||Montar a caballo||Estoy aprendiendo a montar a caballo.|
|A horse rider||Un jinete / una amazona||Los jinetes vengan pa ‘aca.|
|The helmet||El casco||No te olvides el casco|
|The whip||La fusta||Se me cayó la fusta de nuevo…|
|Gaiters (over boots)||Las polainas|
|The reins||Las riendas||Agarrá bien las riendas|
|The saddle||La montura|
|The stirrups||Los estribos||Sacá los pies de los estribos|
|Walk||El Paso||Hagamos un poquito de paso…|
|Trot||El trote / trotear||Empezamos a trotear|
|Canter||El medio galope||Pasamos al galope|
|The field / training ground||La pista||¿En qué pista estamos hoy?|
|Heels down!||¡Talones abajo!|
|Look straight ahead!||¡Mirá hacia adelante!|
|Straight back!||¡Espalda recta!|
|Hands low!||¡Manos abajo!|
|Shorten the reins!||¡Acortá las riendas!|
|A prize / treat (for the horse)||Un premio||¿Trajiste un premio?|
Some of this might be regionally specific. If you’re learning horse riding in Argentina, you’ll want to also know about the differences of Argentinian Spanish.
We had a great time learning to ride horses in Buenos Aires, Argentina. If you have any questions about the experience, don’t hesitate to leave a comment or to contact us.