I’ve recently returned from a holiday with my best friend, Emma, in Mallorca earlier this month. It was our first ever girls holiday together, just the two of us. We’ve been away with a group of friends before, but this time we decided to go it alone, as we have very similar likes and hobbies, so we knew the trip would end up being perfectly suited for both of us.
Neither of us enjoys spending our entire holiday lounging by the pool or sunbathing all day at the beach. We love to explore new places, enjoy local cuisines and try new things. So, we chose the sunny Spanish island of Mallorca, a destination with plenty of choices of things to do to keep us entertained, with a little bit of chilling by the pool in our down time and a beach on our doorstep.
Early on in our holiday, we decided to look into excursions and Majorcan adventures we could go on. One immediately caught our eye – The Rancho Grande Sunset Experience. Having both tried horse riding before (all be it, a long time ago), we both felt excited about the chance to get back in the saddle again and experience a taste of the “wild west”. So, despite being quite costly, we booked our ranch experience and eagerly anticipated our equestrian excursion.
When the day arrived, we were picked up late in the afternoon and transported to Rancho Grande Park through the scenic Majorcan countryside, with the afternoon sun glowing on the distant mountains. On arrival at the ranch, the anticipation mounted as we were greeted by our hosts – a friendly group of “Cowboys and Cowgirls” who would keep us entertained all evening long. Their ability to speak a range of languages was impressive, from English and French to Japanese, German and Italian!! It turns out these linguistic talents were necessary, as the sunset ranch experience had attracted travellers like us from across the world.
In true Spanish style, we were welcomed warmly with a chilled glass of authentic Sangria. I’m still not sure whether this was an ingenious idea or a slightly concerning suggestion before mounting horses… But it went down rather well! We then had some time to explore the ranch while waiting for other guests to arrive. To our delight, there were all sorts of animals accommodating the ranch, from parrots (one of which left an unpleasant green poop on my arm), ostrich and llama to monkeys and pigs. In fact, there was an extremely cute bunch of piglets running riot across the ranch, as they were small enough to squeeze through the gaps in the fence of their paddock and get up to mischief. We caught one of them chilling out in a muddy puddle from the torrential rain of the previous day and he was submerging his little snout and blowing bubbles in the water. It was very cute!!
Anyway, I’ve digressed. It was soon time for the most exciting part of the trip – the horse ride. We had four groups to choose from:
- Experienced riders – For Cowboy and Cowgirls with 2 years or more experience of riding.
- Intermediate riders – For Cowboy and Cowgirl wannabes who have been horse riding before and are confident with horses.
- Beginner riders – For anyone else who wanted to ride a horse whether or not they have tried it before.
- The Sangria Express waggon – For those who wanted to sit back, enjoy live music, sip sangria and spectate the setting sun on a Western-style horse-drawn waggon.
Although both Emma and I have been horse riding before, I felt like I had forgotten a lot about it and I chickened out of joining the intermediate group, so we opted for beginners. The ranch team called this the “Automatic” group and in hindsight, we could see why!
We were talked through some basic riding skills and commands before being introduced to our horses. Mine was called Gran Aladin (Big Aladin) – a definite tribute to his size, yet he was the epitome of a gentle giant. And Emma’s was called Buro Negro, which we later translated to Black Donkey – which had nothing to do with the horse being either black… or a donkey!
Once everyone was mounted and ready to go, we set off on what was to be a relaxed horse ride across the ranch and surrounding countryside with our new equestrian companions. Emma and I quickly remembered how to ride a horse from our previous experiences. Maybe it’s like riding a bike and you never really forget! So we were hoping to have a chance to trot or canter, but it turns out that the Automatic group was for true beginners who were riding horses for the first time and so instead, we enjoyed a leisurely stroll on horseback through sandy forests as the sun began to set behind the hills. Although it wasn’t an exciting, exhilarating, high-octane experience, it was actually extremely relaxing and gave us a chance to truly appreciate the beautiful surroundings of the ranch and a Majorcan sunset. Gran Aladin was a charming horse who really made the ride enjoyable. He was well-behaved and gentle, however, he couldn’t resist a bit of a stinky fart in Buro Negro’s face, much to Emma’s horror!
When we returned to the hub of the ranch itself, we dismounted our horses and felt the pain of what we had considered a sedate and laid-back ride. Ouch! It was especially uncomfortable when we took our seats on the wooden benches in the dining barn for our ranch dinner – A delicious smoked paprika chicken skewer and pork steak cooked al fresco on the bbq grill, served with potato and salad, with a side of sangria of course. We were joined by the other riders, including the tipsy sangria waggon gang who had simply reclined and enjoyed the waggon ride, while taking in the view and copious amounts of sangria!!
After our meal, the evening continued outside with live guitar music, singing, Flamenco dancing, line dancing, a bucking Bronco competition and a spectacular horse show, with beautiful animals showing off their talents with their riders. Now we could see why Rancho Grande was described as a sunset ranch experience rather than simply a horse ride. It was so much more and it was well worth the money we spent on the excursion.
So if you ever visit Mallorca, I would definitely recommend taking a trip to Rancho Grande if you really want an evening to remember (depending on how much sangria you drink!!)
You can find out all about Rancho Grande here.