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Hasni and the Aragon Trail, Spain

Hasni and David L O Smith

Hasni -15.1hh Spanish Arab gelding on the Aragon Trail in northern Spain

By way of a rest from the corporate holiday work, I rode on the Aragon Trail, in mid October, when the weather would normally have been very pleasant but, especially for me, it was rather wet!  It was a shame about the weather in a region that is normally so dry, and had been for about two years - until I arrived.  Hasni was a very willing horse who needed but the slightest suggestion to do what I wanted.  Bertrand, our guide, has trained all his horses very naturally and, although we had bitless bridles for insurance purposes, they could all be ridden by near beginners in a rope halter, if necessary.

There were just three of us on the trail, which started from Bertrand's home in the small and isolated village of Nocito in the foothills of the Pyrenees in the region of Huesca (famous as the town from which the re-conquest of Spain from the Moors was launched). 


Bertrand, natural horseman

Our guide, Bertrand, a true natural horseman


Kate and Linda on the Aragon Trail, Spain

Kate and Linda were also on the trail

The first day was an 'out and back' in a canyon and up on to a grassland plateau to see a little of the area and to check that we were comfortable with our horses.  The area is now almost deserted but was once used for summer sheep pasture.  Two of Bertrand's 'horse dogs' came with us on the trail to guard the horses and tack at night, and to round up the horses at the end of the lunch breaks, as they were not tied up at all, one horse may have a long rope on a hobble on one leg.

Bertrand on the Aragon Trail, Spain

Hasni on the Aragon Trail, Spain

Here is Hasni at our lunch stop on the first day and, as you can see, it was his turn for the loose hobble.  He is a wonderfully responsive and willing Spanish Arab with a lovely nature, who safely carried me over some quite taxing terrain.

From the middle of the last century, much of the indigenous population abandoned their dwellings and farms in this remote upland area to make their livings in the more prosperous plains.

Some of the magnificent villas are now only ruins (right) but others have been restored as holiday retreats (far right).  The chimneys  are very characteristic of the area, having a sentinel to guard against evil spirits from entering the house.

Bertrand at the ruins on the Aragon Trail, Spain

Ruins on the Aragon Trail, Spain

Open fire Bertrand first came to this are from France in the 1960s and, having fallen in love with the beauty and wildness of the area, settled in a ruin and then later bought one to become his home.

Horses walking on steep parts of the Aragon Trail, Spain

 Most of the time we were able to ride but sometimes, on steep terrain, we walked to allow our horses a bit of a respite.

Moorish Castles on the Aragon Trail, Spain

We visited Moorish castles, where our horses waited patiently for us to return and have our picnic lunch.

Vultures in the valley on the Aragon Trail, Spain

On the trail, there were canyons and here the vultures flew, when it was not too wet - so, most of the vultures we saw were sheltering!

Misty village on the Aragon Trail, Spain

We stayed overnight in this picturesque village, in a hotel on the small square, as we climbed away, the mist started to clear to reveal the mountains and lush farmland.

Cave dwellings on the Aragon Trail, Spain

At the head of one of the canyons there was a collection of hermitages and cave dwelling from earlier centuries when this form of living was popular with certain Christian groups. 

We were able to ride to the foot of the cliffs (our horses are just visible in the photo to the left) and then we climbed up the rock and open stairs to one of the more accessible dwellings (right).

Hermitage on the Aragon Trail, Spain

Back to my horses