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Guanacaste's Riding Diversity

Listed under Horse Riding in Costa Rica.

  • Photo of Guanacaste's Riding Diversity
  • Photo of Guanacaste's Riding Diversity
Photo of Guanacaste's Riding Diversity
Photo by Hal Peat
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A small country that spans a vivid range of ancient history, dramatic land formations and wide open beaches, traditional village life and national parks with different eco-systems, Costa Rica is as much an adventure for visiting equestrians as it is for other outdoor active travelers. The ideal region to experience this spectrum by trail is in the ranch country of Guanacaste, the nation's north coast province on the Pacific side. The land area here is characterized by its vast white sandy beaches, dry tropical forest flora and fauna, and indigenous Sabanero ("cowboy") culture.

Given the diverse natural and human characteristics, riding usually takes in just one or two at a time of the regional highlights - so, for instance, the trail rides designed by local experts The Painted Pony Guest Ranch at Casagua Horses offer a natural history tour, which takes you through the dry tropical forest, often encountering groups of howler monkeys, bright plumaged birds and giant old growth trees, and follows along old oxcart trails and past small towns. Spectacular in a different way is the ride which takes you along lush green pastures to the foot of Costa Rica's renowned Arenal Volcano, where you ride on lava trails and canter your horse across green fields and along thermal rivers. If you wish to explore even further, you can add a canopy or hanging bridge trail through the rainforest for an extra day.

Local Guanacaste culture is forefront when you go on a so-called cantina tour that follows old Spanish trails into ranch lands and through small town life, with a drink or refreshment taken at a small cantina or restaurant. Other trails and seasonally themed rides hereabouts will include the route along Old Tempate Trail that passes again by ranches along old trails to the quaint ranch town of Tempate before continuing over mountain terrain to Potrero Beach, or if you visit the region between November and July, you can ride along on weekends with local riders to take part in traditional fiesta celebrations that feature a reception for riders and watching a rodeo event. Exhibiting a noble but always comfortable gate, the criollo horses of Guanacaste with their mixed bloodlines of Andalusian, Barb, Jennet and Peruvian Paso are a vital element of Guanacaste life beyond their trail ride presence -- they are used for cattle ranching, rodeos, fiesta events and even lower level dressage. If you ride from Finca Casagua, staff will match you to the best criollo based on your physical size and experience. They also provide lessons and pony rides tailored to children. Wear closed shoes and bring insect repellent and sunblock as needed.

Written by  Hal Peat.

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