The Colonial Trail Ride ….. and its Living Legend;
The Mangalarga Marchador Horse - Brazil
9 Days / 8 Nights / 7 Days on horseback
Discover Colonial Brazil and one of its most precious national horse breeds
On this riding trip we take you to the South-Eastern State of Minas Gerais traveling back, as it were, to the colonial times and to the origin of Brazil’s national pride; the Mangalarga Marchador horse.
This journey is entirely devoted to this very special Brazilian horse. The Mangalarga Marchador derives from cross-breeding of Portuguese Alter Real horses with Barb horses and local Criollo stock. It displays four gaits: the walk, the canter, and two ambling gaits, the marcha batida and the marcha picada; it does not trot. And it is with this horse that you will ride through stunning landscapes along the Estrada Real (Royal Road), visit the best and oldest stud farms of the breed in the country, ride into colonial towns and overnight in splendid and authentic Fazendas and Pousadas from the 17th and 18th century.
The state of Minas Gerais was home to the Brazilian Gold Rush that created the world's longest gold rush period and the largest gold mines in the world. On top of that, shortly after, also diamond was found. To transport all this wealth to the motherland Portugal, a good road had to be built all the way to the coast of Rio de Janeiro from where it could be shipped to Lisbon. And so, the Estrada Real was born. Slaves build the 1.600 km royal road and treasure hunters flocked to Minas Gerais in search of precious metals. This was encouraged by the Portuguese crown because they were interested in the quinto (a government tax on all gold in Brazil). When the monarchy realized that smuggling was increasing and they were being cheated, the court established the Estrada Real as a means to monitor the movement of gold and possessions from the mining zone in the late 17th century. The use of old roads and the opening of new highways became prohibited.
Over the years, Pousadas/hotels popped up for the Tropeiros (traditional horsemen who transported merchants between cities).
There were also places created for the crown to collect taxes. In many cases, these small outposts became towns and villages. And the rich wanted a good, fast and comfortable horse to be able to move between the gold cities.
Francisco Gabriel Junqueira, Baron of Alfenas, began breeding his imported Lusitano to the mares on his farm (primarily Barbs, along with other breeds brought to Brazil). The result was a smooth-gaited, attractive horse which the baron called Sublime. Junqueira sold some of the Sublimes to a friend who had a farm in Paty do Alferes, Rio de Janeiro. The farm's name was Mangalarga, and the owner rode Sublimes to and from Rio de Janeiro. In Rio, people noticed the smooth-gaited, attractive Sublimes and began calling them Mangalargas. Later they added the word “Marchador” , what means walker, because of its smooth gait.
During our trail ride we will spent the night at the colonial stud farm of the Junqueira family where the first Mangalarga horse was registered, we will visit and stay at other important breeding farms and also visit the Mangalarga Marchador Museum.
Beside learning all about a very special horse, the daily portion of hours in the saddle along beautiful bridle paths and Estrada Real, visiting colonial towns, staying at old fazendas and pousadas, you will also meet the great local people and taste the best food and cachaça of the country. Welcome to the Colonial Trail Ride!