Today we rode in a Cabalgata with Monica, Esteban, Sebastian and a few other riders. These fundraising horse days happen every weekend during the summer all over Costa Rica. People gather in a fair like setting and pay a fee to have food, refreshments, entertainment and horseback ride with hundreds and thousands of local people through local farms and land. Our Cabalgata was in the small town of Los Lirios and consisted of a couple hundred people on horseback. There was music, great food and it was quite the wild ride.
The nice thing about a Cabalgata as Monica explained to me is that everyone rides together, regardless of social status or class. Whole families, young and old, ride their horses with each other.
The start of the Cabalgata reminded me of a state fair or amusement park. There were rides for kids, cotton candy, grilled meats, churros and more. People were singing karaoke and prizes were raffled off.
We got on our horses and began the ride down the road. Local farmers open their lands so that riders can cross during the Cabalgata. I was on Perla, a beautiful bay horse that is very smooth. People act crazy in the Cabalgata and they also drink heavily while riding. Motorcycles and mixed with cars and horses, something that I wouldn't normally think would be good for the horses, but they are totally used to it and nothing seemed to phase them at all. Motorcycles raced by me on Perla and she didn't even flinch. These are like super horses. They are really well trained and tough, but also very responsive and ready to ride. I was riding Perla, as I had ridden all of the horses here, without a bit, which is really nice and helps to keep the horses responsive.
My favorite lady was this older woman, who was dressed up in black pants and sandals and carrying her purse with her as she rode. You see all kinds at the Cabalgata, including the drunken man who fell off his horse and the children, dressed to the nines in their western wear. I saw dancing horses, who were trained to trot when music was played and since music was a major part of the day as well, these horses were trotting around.
Monica has been to lots of Cabalgatas, so many that she has lost count. She brings her whole family and they ride together, which is nice. The Cabalgata is like no trail ride in the U.S. Yes, it doesn't exactly follow the safety rules of riding, but it's a great event that brings communities together for a good, fun cause.
Learn more about Equitrekking on PBS and the Equitrekking episodes on DVD and learn about exceptional equestrian vacations, including the Costa Rica vacation where you can experience a Cabalgata, at EquitrekkingTravel.com.