Horse musings following a trip to Costa Rica

We were in Costa Rica in June. Stayed a couple of days at Arenal, near the volcano, and saw a ton of horses and farms. Tried to get a trail ride at Leaves and Lizards Lodge, but the weather didn’t cooperate. But we did learn a lot about the native horse, Criolla, from the lodge manager. These horses, a mix of Spanish and Arabian breeds, are bred to have a lot of bone and very lean. Made me feel better because before then I had seen a lot of horses I thought looked skinny! Had better luck the last half of our trip to Nosara. Got a trail ride led by the owner of Boca Nosara Tours, Awesome horses, very well kept. Rode a Criolla-TB cross that I swear would be a great eventing prospect. Nimble, fearless and great gaits. I usually don’t horseback ride on vacations because I disagree with the way horses are kept but I was pleasantly surprised in Costa Rica.

I went in 2006 and did the ride around Arenal Lake. I can’t remember the name of the company but it was well-run and the horses were in good shape. I asked them about how they used the horses, and they had two farms (one at each end of the ride) - so the horses would be used in the ride, then were turned out at the farm at that end, then ridden back, turned out, etc. They were given regular breaks and weren’t used every day. I think I remember that they used American Quarter Horses (it was a selling point in the brochure).

I believe they are actually called Criollo

I did a ride to San Luis falls from Monteverde when I waas there. The mounts were a mix of Creollo, Appy QH and mules. All very well conditioned and cared for

One of the foremen has a lovely Criollo filly, 4 yo, that I would have taken home in a heartbeat. He rode her beautifully and I thought she has a lot of class.

There are several horse tour companies around Monteverde and Arenal. Some take very good care of the horses and some, not so much. I went with Horse Trek Monteverde and Marvin Anchia takes very, very good care of his horses. There are quite a few ‘quarto milles’ or Quarter Horses in Costa Rica, in addition to the Caballo Costaricense de Paso.

I’ve ridden privately-owned horses in Nosara. We rode by an actual stable. Like with stalls! The horses looked fit, clean, and content. I wish I knew, if it was a livery, the name. Most horses I saw were staked out along the road, tied to wire.

We saw a truck with a flat tire in an intersection so causing a bit of a fuss. The horse in the bed (stock sides) was rodeo ready! Clearly, that owner took pride in his horse’s condition and presentation. Most appeared to be working livestock living in similar conditions as their working owners.