NAVIGATION

Quick Trip – Horsing Around for Pure Enjoyment

Quick Trip – Horsing Around for Pure Enjoyment

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If you are looking for a magically intimate connection with nature, at your own pace but in a relatively short space of time, horseback riding is a popular way to go in Costa Rica. Forget about motors, gas, pollution and noise. Hopping onto a saddle can satisfy your urge to get away from it all, often without venturing too far off the beaten path. Even if you only have a few hours to spare, there may be wonderful guided rides in your area along back country trails and into small villages, if not through tropical forests or on the beach.

Horseback riding allows you to appreciate and engage with the local flora and fauna from a unique vantage point. You might see coatis, raccoons and perhaps even a rare gray fox. Bird songs and hoof beats will be your only constant accompaniment, while the silence otherwise can be deceiving. It is simply the absence of human sounds.

The popularity and wide availability of horseback riding tours in Costa Rica make it possible to book one on fairly short notice. Rides generally last two to three hours, leaving plenty of time in the day for other activities or travel commitments. That is not to say your horseback riding arrangements require any less care and forethought than a less spontaneous adventure would. Asking your concierge or another local source and seeking information online or asking a local source are good places to start. Prices range from $30 to $50 per person, depending on duration of the ride and what it includes. A key consideration when contacting tour company providers is your level of experience and related safety concerns, especially for children. Keep in mind there is a difference between a “nose to tail” ride for tourists with little or no experience and trail rides for those with training and experience. Make sure the tour operator understands and can accommodate your requirements in terms of appropriate horses, trails and qualified guides.

Find out as much as you can before booking your tour, and also onsite before saddling up. Ask questions of your guide, including where the trail route will take you. Out of respect for the environment and others’ enjoyment, horse rides on beaches should be in secluded spots with little or no tourist activities. In addition, look over the horses for any sign of mistreatment. From what I have observed during my four years of living in Guanacaste, the horses ridden by tourists on guided trail excursions appear to be well fed, groomed and cared for. The horsemen, known here as caballeros, seem to take their work seriously as an example to visitors and locals from anywhere in the world who care about animals.

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