Paso Fino vs. Germany Riding Pony - A comparison over 105 Kilometres
Our adventure started with this crazy idea – why don’t we ride to Erfurt. Without a plan and only last minute organisation, we started on a beautiful sunny morning. The ponies were in great mood – Sierra del Sol, the relaxed Paso Fino mare and Tabaluga, the German Riding Pony gelding – as they didn’t know what lay ahead of them.
But they did realise that some- thing was different, at the latest when we mounted. Ten Kilogram extra weight and some difficulties to keep the balance were already obvious after a few meters. Maybe we should have practices to ride with backpacks prior to the trip. After the first change in speed Sierra had a clear advantage, as Tabaluga obviously had to fight the unsteady shaking backpack. Not to mention the comfort. 1 - 0 for the Paso Fino. The first stage had 40 km – uphill and downhill. The comparison of the long-distance walk ended 1 - 1, as Tabaluga was much faster with his long legs. After hours in the saddle we felt every bone and were glad to reach the goal for the day. Both ponies were happy to role and we looked forward to a shower.
The next morning started with a tasty breakfast. We had repacked the backpacks and, surprise! - nothing moved. At the very beginning of this stage the trail lead through a forest up a steep hill. 2 - 2 as both ponies managed it sure footed and powerful. This day had 33 km in store and our goal was to take a picture in front of the theatre in Weimar with the statues of Goethe und Schiller. We took a short break for eating ice cream and took off again to the second accom- modation. Sierra collected another point, as gaiting through the pedestrian zone is just cool. Tabaluga, however, was not to be bothered and didn’t lose his step. Both of them were really well-behave while riding through the city. Whether passing a garbage collection truck or waiting at a red traffic light – both made points for strong nerves – 4 - 3.
Happy and exhausted we reached the stables. The ponies had a large box with paddock, but where more happy for the fresh grass and hay. Both were rested the next morning and ready to tackle the last 32 km. After Weimar it was easy riding. For this last stage, we had to cross two ICE-train tracks and one highway. Both of them did really well, hadn’t there been any harvesting going with one tractor chasing the next. 5 - 3 for Sierra’s strong nerves.
We rode through villages, over mead- ows and fields and across a metal bridge. Unfortunately you cannot do such a trip with- out horse shoes. Thus the ponies had to cross the bridge with shoes. Tabaluga had a clear advantage as he had shoes made of plastic. He was across in no time. Sierra wanted to keep up, but as soon as the first hoof hit the metal, she retreated. And now? The first time the rider dismounted, not really by choice, and wouldn’t you know – it was easy to cross in gait. Maybe this sounds smart, but now the score was 5 - 4.
Now the really helpful app showed the last kilometres. Two kilometres before the Grammemühle, where Tabaluga has been living for two years, a race crowned the trip. You prob- ably guessed. With home advantage the Riding Pony won by a few lengths. Final score 5 - 5 and at the end 105 km, 1800 m altitude difference and more the 20 hours in the saddle. It was great, especially when you are back home in bed. And we decided to do such a trip every year. Whoever knows good places to go – please let us know.
Report by Franziska and Sabrina Michel, translated by Barbelin van der Smissen