Today was my first riding day on the Costa Rica equestrian vacation we're filming for Equitrekking. We started at the farm and Esteban helped me pick out the horse that I would be riding. The horses here are different breed mixes. Some have more Paso Fino in them then others, meaning that they are gaited and very smooth. After trying a few horses, I settled on riding Pinata, an Appaloosa mixed with Peruvian Paso. Pinata is a wonderfully well behaved and smooth ride. We would get along very well.
Esteban rode Chocolate and Monica and her brother Sebastian rode along with us. The area just around the farm is really diverse, with rolling grasslands where cattle graze to fields of pineapple and sugarcane to rainforests, rivers and the grand Arenal Volcano.
The thing about riding in Costa Rica, is that you can really let loose and ride fast. The saddles that we used were McClellon saddles with a nice cushiony seat, ideal for long days in the saddle. Esteban told me about how many people in the area are self-sufficient. They farm and live off of the land. They also have a lot of small dogs. Everywhere, I am seeing these mini dogs, which are very popular in the U.S. They are just par for the course here.
I pointed to a large orange leafed tree in the distance and asked Esteban what it was. This is one of the many trees that Costa Ricans use to make natural fences. We rode into a secondary rainforest on the farm, which Esteban has been working to regrow by planting native plants. Some area forests were cut down for farming, but now many Costa Ricans, like Esteban, have an eye towards conservation for the future.
We rode to a high spot, where we galloped up some pastureland, sprinkled with some skinny cows. At the top, we could see Arenal Volcano, the first in a sequence of major volcanoes. The hill that we were standing on, in fact many of the hills in the area, were once volcanoes. This soil is rich in minerals, making this area so great for farming.
Our ride was not finished. We rode down to the a river, where we galloped through meadows and the water and got in to a place where the water came up to our horses chest. The river was beautiful and the water felt good. Monica warned us not to go down any further in the river, as there were crocodiles downstream. Crocodiles!
The really neat thing about the area where we are riding with Centaura and with the locals is that there are few tourists here, making getting into the local culture, easier and more authentic.