Petrol Portrait: EL CHORRO
When you think of the Marlboro Man - the rugged cowboy known for his cigarette ads - you might not immediately think of horse riding. But that's exactly what the real-life Marlboro Man has been doing for over a decade in the stunning mountains of El Chorro, Spain.
Over the years, his ranch in El Chorro has built a reputation for delivering unforgettable horseback riding experiences to people from all over the world and it's ranked as a top attraction worldwide on TripAdvisor. Petrol Industries had the opportunity to interview the man behind this ranch.
“ What I do now happened to me, I never planned to do what I do now... ”
The Marlboro Man, better known as Marc, always had a passion for animals, but horseback riding was a new experience for him. It all started when he bought his ex-partner a horse, hoping it would prevent him from hearing her endless stories about it. After a few days he realized it was more fun and safer to ride together, so he bought himself a horse and fell in love with the animal. "What I do now happened to me, I never planned to do what I do now", he shared.
El Chorro is a demanding place to ride, even for experienced riders. The difficult terrain with narrow tracks and drops is filled with stones and rocks, making it a challenging ride for both the horses and riders. But at the same time, that's exactly what makes it so special.
Marc takes pride in introducing people from all over the world to horse riding in El Chorro, no matter their experience level. "It's just seeing the amazement, joy and happiness that it brings them", he said. "The peace and tranquility, it's like therapy. To me, it's a therapy every day, riding my horses".
“ When you're riding a horse, you're connecting with the animal. You don't just drive it, you become part of it... ”
We asked Marc about his thoughts on horse riding and modern forms of transportation, and he had some interesting insifhts to share.
For starters, he thinks there are a lot of similarities between riding a horse and an electric motorcycle. As a driver you must work with the vehicle to move forward, same as with riding a horse. There is one big key difference between riding a horse and a motorcycle: the connection you feel with the animal itself.
"When you're riding a horse, you're connecting with the animal", he said. "You don't just drive it, you become part of it. There's a physical connection and energy connection, what makes horse riding so incredible".
As a clean, pure and quiet form of transportation, Marc thinks horse riding is hard to beat. "Horses are the cleanest form of transportation there is. And let's not forget, they were the first form of long-distance transport for humans. We wouldn't be where we are today without them".
But it's not just the practical benefits that makes horse riding so special. As Marc pointed out, there's something magical about being out in nature on the back of a horse. "The feeling of exhilaration you get when you're riding - it's hard to beat".