Horseback riding in the Costa Rican rainforest

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What is every little girl’s dream? To get a horse. Or a pony. Isn’t it?

Although this wasn’t my dream when I was little, I have always wanted to ride a horse. And by riding a horse I do not mean walk around in circles at the town fair with someone else holding the reins.

What I really wanted to do was go horseback riding, independently, in a field (because it seems easier and just as memorable as riding on a beach). (And no, not necessarily on the old town road neither lol)

Here’s my first experience with horseback riding.

horseback riding costa rica

Horseback riding in the Costa Rican rainforest

It was in the winter of winter of 2011 that I went to Costa Rica. After the big adventure of crossing the border from Nicaragua to Costa Rica (on foot, no less), I was already thrown into a new adventure the next day. When we arrived in Bijagua – we stayed at a lodge my dad chose based on reviews about the famous Alejandro – we were almost immediately pulled towards the stables.

And that’s where we met him.

Alejandro is… amazing. He’s this mentor kind of person. He’s like a horse whisperer or something. It’s like he communicates with the horses on a different level. And the man himself has some great stories to tell.

horseback riding costa rica

On our second day, I was brought out to the stables again to go for a ride. Alejandro handed over the most enthusiastic and strong-willed horse to me (let’s call him Speedy). Which I thought was totally fine… until we left the stables.

We rode up a narrow, muddy path and up a hill. The lodge were we stayed was located in a forest area, so the air was very moist. Once we reached the top, however, the vegetation changed into wide, open fields with high grass.

Next thing I knew, Speedy was running away with me.

You should know that, even though my mom and her sister were fervent horseback riders for many years, I have never had any affiliation with these animals. So, my survival instinct kicked in. I tried to follow the movements of the horse as Speedy galloped through the field with a lurch, running towards freedom, with a blonde sitting on its back, desperately trying to hold on.

At some point, Speedy stopped and turned around as if he suddenly realized the others weren’t following him. I got a chance to catch my breath while the others trotted towards us. Alejandro said something like: “Have you done this before? You did well. Speedy is always really excited to take this route.” Oh well…

horseback riding costa rica

I didn’t end the day – Well, I did end it in one piece, but not unharmed. I don’t know how to “steer” a horse, you know. So when we walked up pretty close to a tree, I just assumed the horse would automatically move a little more to the right. Of course it didn’t. So I twisted my knee. Great. No walking for two days.

That doesn’t mean I don’t want to ride again. I sure do! And also, I hope to meet inspiring people like Alejandro again. He took us into the rainforest and showed little signs that animals had passed by or shared facts about our surroundings. He took us to this lake where sweet water meets salt water. It is a beautiful sight that I don’t want you to miss out on (even though you can’t see the change very well)!

horseback riding costa rica

Honestly, one of the reasons I loved Costa Rica more than I did Nicaragua, is Alejandro. I hope many more people were touched by his wisdom, kindness, inspiration, passion… I could go on!

What was your childhood dream? Is horseback riding on your bucket list?

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