Do you think riding on a horse eight hours for three days is relaxing and exciting? Poeple that enjoy horseback riding think so. The “Cabalgata” in the Northern part of Mexico is a long, exciting, and relaxing horsetrail. This horsetrail is relaxing for most people because they get off work for three days and drink with their friends.
This trail is made for men only, but girls are allowed to join in with them the last day. This event doesn’t have an age requirement, but most participants are between the ages of 16-60. Most of the time young children are accompanied by their father. In this event, every year the amount of people that participate changes from 120-500 riders on this event. Hores riders are mainly from Acua and pretty much know each other. Friends sign up and get together to interact amongst others.
In the Northern part of Mexico two Cabalgata’s are held each year. One is “Acua” and the other is “Sabinas.” This event doesn’t have a specific date; however, the Cabalgata in Sabinas is usually held on Labor Day weekend. In Acua it is usually held on the first week of October. The Cabalgata I’m going to talk about is the one held in Acua, that lasts for three days and three nights. The year I went, day one and two were about 50 kilometers long, while day three was only 20 kilometers. The last day is always shorter so that the girls can ride along with the guys.
The word Cabalgar in Spanish means “horseback riding.” That’s the reason why this event is called Cabalgata. This event is organized by an individual that lives in Acua. The person that organizes this goes through a lot of hard work. First, he has to schedule a meeting to check how many people are willing to go. If there is not enough people, there is no point to continue on with the organization. If people are interested, the planner finds a route that is possible to take. Second, he needs a starting point that is about 120 kilometers from Acua so the Cabalgantes (riders) can ride from there back to Acua. Third, he needs to get permission from the owners of the ranches which Cabalgantes will pass through and get the keys to the gates. Fourth, he needs to find a place where the Cabalgantes can sleep and which have corrals to let the horses rest.
This event has charge to it, an entry fee that each individual has to pay. It is not always the same because each year their is a different number of people that participate and a different route that is used. The cost of this event covers everything, which includes food, beverages, and food and transportation for the horses, from Acua to the starting point. The only thing that Cabalgantes need to take is their clothes and sleeping bags.
The first night all the Cabalgantes arrive at the ranch which is the starting point. We get there at about 6 p.m and dinner is served. We eat dinner and everyone begins to drink. The first day is the craziest day because everyone is excited about the upcoming events. In 1996, when I got to go, the older people slept in a trailer (parade trailer). It was funny because they started joking around about all the guys sleeping together. Sixteen guys slept on that trailer, all bunched together. Some other people slept inside the ranch house on the living room floor, bed rooms, and any place else where there was space. If you walked around the house you weren’t able to see the floor. Most of the younger guys slept outside on sleeping bags.
in 1996, when I went, at about 6:00 a.m (Day 1) people started waking up, eating breakfast, and saddling up their horses. At about 7:00 a.m, everyone headed out on the trail. All the Cabalgantes followed the leader (organizer) towards point two where we stayed the second night. We rode horses from 7:00 p.m to about 3:00 p.m. Sometimes it would be less depending on the speed that we traveled and the amount of times that we stopped. On the way to point two, everbody talked to one another and drank beer. On this trail, a horse trailer followed in case people got weary and want to take a break. Another truck had coolers full of beer. This truck gets ahead of everyone and stops, so when the Cabalgantes pass by they throw them their beer or soft drinks. Also, while everyone was on the trail, people made bets. They bet on horse races. The race consists of two Cabalgantes that go to the back of the line and race all the way to the front. The people in the back yell “Habran Camino!” This phrase means to clear the way. People then move to the sides so that the riders can pass through. In 1996, I raced 6 times and I won every time. I had the fastest horse out of all the Cabalgantes. A friend of mine that bet against my uncle won a hundred dollars betting on my horse. Everyone on that trip from that day on called me “Jockey.”
When we arrived at point two, we ate a good meal. After our meal, we took showers and then naps, or vice-versa. Around 8:00 p.m., people continue to drink and play cards or domino’s. Many just get together and talk. This is the relaxing part of this trip for these elder people the trip is like being at the beach for us younger guys, because they’re away from work and they don’t have as much in their mind to worry about. It’s like a long weekend when no one has to worry about homework or anything like that.
Day two is similar to day one. We woke up at the same time and ride horses for about 50 kilometers. The only difference is that since we’re about 20 kilometers from home, a mariachi comes to the ranch and plays music (Ranchera). This night is the funnest night because people sing with the mariachi. A mariachi is a group of people who play music with their big guitars, trumphets, and so on. People compete with each other to see who sings better. The older men drink heavely. I think they do this scince they are about to go home and they can’t do that in front of their younger children or wife.
The next morning (Day 3) is when the girls show up. This day is calmer than the first two and beer is not given out until the destination, because it’s respectful not to drink in front of young ladies. On this day, everyone has to wear white shirts with cowboy hats. This is an obligation, because at the end of the trail, we got to a ranch outside Acua, and our family members receive us and we ate lunch with our family and our friends. Also, when we got there, we took pictures. After a great delicious lunch is when everyone goes home and rests comfortably in their beds.
In conclusion, this Cabalgata is very exciting and relaxing. We get off work for three days and communicate with our friends or people you meet. So, are you up for this event? Would you go horseback riding 8 hours for three days? You should try and make it a good experience.