Sina working on a touristic Horse Farm
Farm Stay 2007
In 2007, I did farm work with horses in Chile. During my three months at the hacienda, I usually got up at 8 in the morning. Since it was not a very busy summer, I always had time to have a relaxed breakfast before going to the stable. There, Carlos, your future colleague (and while I was there, my most trusted friend!) had usually already taken care of feeding the horses. Carlos and I then had to prepare the appropriate number of horses for the tourists. It was especially important to know exactly which tourist will get which horse and tell Carlos. He's a real sweetheart, but he'll never give you an order. You have to be organized.
Most riding excursions (to the beach or to the mountains) start between 10 and 11 o'clock in the morning, after the tourists have come down from their bungalows. The exception is the “Desayuno del Campero”, an excursion with breakfast on a clearing in the woods. In order to reach this place before getting too hungry, this excursion starts at 9 o´clock. You have to be ready earlier, because it´s your task to pack the coolers and load the donkey Bartholo (the best donkey ever). From this breakfast you usually come back at 12 o'clock and from the other rides around 13 or 14 o'clock. You then have to take care of the horses (unsaddle, give water, stake in the shadow, etc.) and go for lunch. Everyone is very careful that you always get something to eat even on stressful days, so do not worry about this 😉
Then, in the afternoon, you do another riding excursion with either another or the same group, taking care that the program does not become too one-sided, and if you have many families, you must ensure that everyone is happy. After the rides you have to unsaddle all horses with Carlos, feed them, prepare them for the night and so on. After that, it's up to you to talk to all the tourists in the dining room (who are usually super-sweet, if often exhausting) and of course, you have to organize the next day.
It is important to know that all organizational work is part of your job. Since the hacienda also offers fishing excursions, you have to offer those too, as well as outings to the nearby natural reserve, etc. You only accompany the rides, but you have to offer and organize everything! No worries, that sounds harder than it is.
Generally, do riding excursions with groups of 6/7 people (if there are not too many children) on your own, which means a lot of responsibility, but mostly fun! Larger groups will be accompanied by Carlos as well. It is important that you also make it clear that you are the tourist guide, and that its your horses and, above all, your responsibility, and that basically everyone has to listen to you. Of course, as the guest is king, you have to do so always nice and friendly. This is actually the biggest challenge in your job, because especially the Chilean visitors are usually not very obedient ... But if you have serious problems with a visitor, it is important to know that the boss of the Hacienda will always back you. Although he must solve the problem diplomatically, but he will never treat you bad, but always support you!
In addition, the hacienda also offers riding excursions for people who do not stay there. Organizing those via telephone and coordinating the schedule is your task as well. You'll learn the tips and tricks for that very quickly 😉
Another job of yours is to maintain the stable and tack room. Carlos takes care of all physically difficult tasks (I also learned to muck out and stud horses, but only because I wanted to, nobody expected that!).
Another task and probably the easiest is to be the Hacienda´s ever-smiling face. The tourists love small talk and often it is your job to explain things, to guide people, to show empathy, to tell funny anecdotes etc.
It is important to know that many people who go on such a holiday have never sat on a horse before and then want to ride for two hours or more. So you can imagine that sometimes it's more stressful than fun to ride out with them.
Also, you can´t expect European standards: In Chile, three-year-olds often ride alone on a near horse without helmets, many people ride their own horses and others - Carlos included - use spurs and the horses are not treated as softly as ours. But no horse is maltreated, even if the handling is a little rougher.
(Sinas' report was translated from German, look here for the original post.)