A unique experience in Elati: Horseback riding in the mountainous heart of the Peloponnese

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Hristos Simopoulos, above all else, loves what he does and, in a magical way, manages to get you in his orbit when you visit his property just outside of Elati in Acardia, the central Peloponnese.

We met Hristos at his wood workshop, and through our conversation, we tried to understand his routine.

Much of his day is spent caring for his 12 horses. “I bought my first horse when I barely had a place to stay,” he tells us before he calls his colleague, Tryfonas Liaropoulos, to take us horseback riding.

“I have some people here who want to see the horses,” he says on the phone, and ten minutes later, Tryfonas is with us. He took the saddles and the rest of the equipment, and we headed to the forest.

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We follow him in our car to a road that cuts through a fir forest. At some point, he pulls over and shows us the horses in the distance. A bit further down the road, we turn onto a dirt road and reach the edge of the estate.

“Most of the horses roam free. We only tie the leader and one more so as the rest don’t leave,” he tells us.

When the horses see him, they approach him as if welcoming him. We stay at the edge of the estate and watch Tryfonas almost speak with them. Some he pets, others look at him from afar.

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He approaches the leader of the herd, a black majestic horse with a shiny coat. He brings it towards us and prepares it for riding. In a few moments, the horses are ready, and Tryfonas gives us some tips, explaining how even beginners can make their first steps in this magical and exciting world.

“Horses need respect and always give signs before making a sudden move. If you see a horse twitching its ears backwards, it means something is bothering it. It may not want you so close to it; it may feel pressure. In general, horses are very smart; you just need to learn their signals.”

Here, even small children can safely ride horses, with the proper guidance helping them love horses.

In the fir forest

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We get on the horses and head towards the fir forest. We’re on one of the predetermined routes you can choose from. Some of the herd’s horses follow while others continue grazing unfazed. We walk on the fresh green grass surrounded by these beautiful forms.

Sometimes, they stop grazing and look at us curiously. Tryfonas gives us more details about horseback riding. He is 28 years old, lives in Vytina and comes from a family of farmers.

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“Since I was little, I really liked them. I was always around them, thinking and talking about them and I was looking for a way to make this my daily life. Today, I’m more than happy to be able to communicate this true love for horses to other people.”

He tells us about moments when he takes his horse, goes to the mountain to explore nature, and finds himself in places where there is no other way of reaching. We stay at the estate for a long time, each moment with its own special value. The co-existence with the horses, the calm and the confidence they exude, radically improve our mood and bring us balance.

Horseback riding in Elati, Tel..: 0030 6977022173, 0030 6982600073

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Dimitris Stathopoulos is a columnist for Travel

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