Why should I choose Perol Chico?
As a company we are 100% dedicated to horses and riding - we do nothing else. Our horses are our most valuable assets and their well-being and good health is of vital importance to us.
Feeding and taking good care of horses in this part of the Andes is an expensive undertaking. There is little or no rainfall for seven months of the year, during which time good grazing is scarce. Perol Chico buys tons of chopped quality alfalfa from Arequipa (about 600 miles away) to ensure a nourishing and continuous food supply for its horses during the dry season.
Our riding season is as long as our dry season; 7 months. The trails high up in the mountains are too slippery and dangerous to ride during the monsoon season (with heavy rains between November and February) and this limits the time we are able to offer rides. The Peruvian Andes may not be the most ideal place to operate a ranch but we believe it is the most beautiful place to ride.
Due to the above-mentioned limitations we keep our riding operation and the size of our herd relatively small, as this is paramount to providing only the best possible care for our horses. Our continuous striving for quality and excellence has earned us the reputation of being the best horseback riding operation in Peru.
Why Peruvian Paso horses?
The answer is simple: because they are the best trail horses. For centuries they have been bred and selected in Peru to perform as exceptional travel horses; able to cover long distances, year after year. To those unfamiliar with the breed, the Peruvian Paso horse (PPH) is often associated with horses competing in the show ring or showing off in parades, but the PPH has been and should always be a working horse above anything else!
Perol Chico is proud to have Peruvian Paso horses from old and strong working lines, and preserves these bloodlines through an ambitious breeding program. All the horses are registered at the National Peruvian Paso Horse studbook association (ANCPCPP).
Some outfitters in our area are using mountain or Criollo horses, claiming that the PPH is less suitable in the mountains. We have challenged them to prove their claim in a competition but so far no one has dared to take us up on the offer!
Mountain or Criollo horses in Peru are in general smaller, less spirited and slower than Peruvian Pasos. They are tough and their small size and small hooves are of great advantage on narrow and difficult mountain trails, but because of their size and light build they are not suitable for riders with a weight of more than approximately 60 kg. This is not a limitation for most Peruvians living in the mountains but it is for the average rider coming from westernised countries.
Do you offer half or one-day rides?
When we started our business in 1996, we offered short day rides, but soon found out that this was not satisfying for the horses or for us. Horses get bored when they do the same trail day after day, especially when the most interesting trails include mainly a long, steep climb and descent (we live in a valley). We also learned that there was not enough time to evaluate riders’ abilities and to offer a good introduction to Peruvian equitation. There are many different styles of riding but if a horse is ridden in different ways, it will soon get confused and frustrated. Today we include an introduction on all our multi-day rides, with enough time to instruct our guests on how to ride our fine horses before we start the ride. This allows us to keep our horses well-trained, responsive and above all, happy.
Can we gallop on your rides?
Rides in the Sacred Valley are at high altitudes and there is little oxygen in the air. Our horses are in excellent shape and well adapted to high altitudes, but their lungs still have to work very hard to recover after a gallop. More speed means that more oxygen is required by the horse. If you were to try run at these altitudes, you would experience how difficult it is, and the recovery required after only short distances. A good rider has common horse sense and knows when to take it easy, because the well-being of their horse is always foremost on their mind.
Gallops are fun on flat terrain, but high in the Andes nothing is flat. When we ride with a group we have to adapt the ride to the least experienced rider in the group. Some participants are less experienced riders than they themselves think, and this can also restrict the pace of the ride. Overall, there will be occasions where we speed up just for fun, but in general the terrain and the altitude don’t offer good conditions for galloping. Besides, who is in a hurry when riding through such spectacular scenery?
What level of riding skills should I have for your rides?
Our rides are suitable for intermediate to advanced riders (our website defines each level). However, this is not always set in stone. On some rides we have had beginners who did amazingly well and we have had ‘experienced’ riders who found it hard to adapt to a different horse and riding style and felt uncomfortable on narrow, difficult mountain trails. What is most important for us is that participants feel confident on a forward-going horse; that they can ride with a straight, deep and balanced seat (flexible in the hips) and that they are able and willing to ride and control a horse with subtle riding aids.
Riding is all about balance, intuition and common horse sense. Some have it naturally, and others never will. We strongly believe that it is the horse that will teach you how to ride. The more you ride on different horses and on different terrain, the better your riding skills will become. Contact us if you are not sure about your riding level - we are happy to arrange some private riding lessons for you before the start of a ride.
How big are the groups on your rides?
Safety is crucial and so the maximum group size for all our rides is kept small, at only 8 riders. Two experienced trail guides always accompany the rides for extra safety. Our most popular ride, the 11-day Sacred Valley Ride, and some of our special coastal rides have scheduled departure dates and are usually booked well in advance. Thus our Sacred Valley ride easily fills up to the maximum group size. Other rides have flexible departure dates, are subject to availability and are booked on shorter notice, so they often have smaller groups.