Bucket List: Horseback riding vacation on the beaches of Costa Rica – CHECK!
Life gets shorter and my list gets longer – time to get things done. This was my thought after my wife, Jill, reminded me for the umpteenth time that we have to ride horses on the beach – somewhere. Add to that the fact that our nine-year-old grandson, Marcus, spent time in Costa Rica in December with his mother and loved it — time to merge the two ideas. We own five horses that are stalled 60 feet from our house. Why not travel two thousand miles and pay money to ride someone else’s equines? When you are my age, a question like this makes no sense. Do it!
Now I have to be honest and tell you that I do not remember writing to Tina Rahm or reaching out to her in any way, but I did contact other companies that promote horseback riding trips in Costa Rica. Frankly, most of those that I contacted seemed to be “canned” – same horses, same itinerary and the opportunity to be thrown into the company of others that we might not enjoy and/or who might not enjoy us. On a given Saturday, our phone rang and it was Tina Rahm calling from Costa Rica (that is called good business practice) following up on my initial communication (???). Tina, (born in Sweden) was a delight on the phone, asked the right questions about “what we thought that we wanted to do in Costa Rica”, some basics about our ability to ride and more. Less than two weeks later we had a preliminary itinerary with options as to activities, level of comfort at hotels, meal choices and more.
This is your horseback riding vacation
Changes were made over a period of time, the itinerary tweaked, cost figures adjusted and even more options were made available. Tina operates on the philosophy that this is “your vacation, permit me to make it memorable and fun.” She lived up to all expectations and more (I am not an easy audience).
Eight days in Costa Rica on a horseback riding holiday
We spent eight days in Costa Rica and slept in eight different hotels (our choice). Our luggage made its way to each hotel, often without our touching it. We wanted to see as much of the country as we could, enjoying the magnificent scenery, friendly people and savoring the incredible coffee (well that wasn’t really one of our initial goals). Tina made it all happen. Her timing was perfect for eight days. She brought with her a fun personality, wonderful sense of humor and incredible abilities as a horsewoman. She has more stories than Barnes & Noble and everywhere we went she knew someone who warmly greeted her or she knew something about someone.
Wildlife encounters on Costa Rica horseback riding vacation
The only portion of the trip that wasn’t perfect was our first night in San Jose – because of the time of our arrival in Costa Rica it made sense to stay in the city rather than travel to the mountains at night. San Jose is a Central American city – nothing more need be said – although Tina placed us at the proper hotel so that we could enjoy some of the few sites that are worth visiting in that city. From there it was off to the Monteverde rainforest with zip lines and a night walk in the forest with a botanist. We rode horses in the mountains – not Tina’s – but she was with us. The terrain was rocky and it was all up and down – two hours was plenty. We then made our way to Aranal (active volcano) and a beautiful area – the trip to Aranal by bus, boat and cab provided material for its own travelogue. The next morning we drove to the coast, enjoyed a sunset cruise on a catamaran and we relaxed for several hours on the beach before heading to Tina’s home in the country and our introduction to our partners for the next several days. There were the three of us – Tina, Jill and me – and our four Criollo horses. Jill was given a stallion to ride, I was given a large palomino and Tina rode a third horse – the fourth horse was our emergency horse who traveled with us each day without being tethered – he had the freedom to run into the ocean, roll on the sand or get all of the horses into a canter at his whim. Tina refers to her horses as being forward – we came to understand that term translates from English to English as horses that would much rather trot, canter or gallop than walk – uphill, downhill – it made no difference.
We encountered wonderful wildlife in our travels – monkeys, birds, reptiles – as well as other horses, dogs, cattle cats, sheep, goats and pigs that hang out on the rights of way and roads eating whatever they can scavenge. Our horses ignored it all and kept on going.
Horseback riding vacation on the beaches of Costa Rica
Riding on the beaches of Costa Rica on quality horses in the company of an incredible guide/trip organizer and now friend was breathtaking and exhilarating. The weather was comfortable and allowed the spray from the Pacific to be refreshing and fun. Four to five hours in the saddle, covering 15 to 20 miles/day on beaches where humans were nowhere in sight for miles and miles at a time. A quick lunch or beer at surfer’s tiki huts spotted along the beaches provided us with time to rest. We stayed in small, wonderful, clean hotels with good food, great ambiance, refreshing pools, hot tubs and Wi-Fi. We would not have found one of these gems without Tina – she knows the Guanacoste Region like it is her personal village.
At this point, if you are still reading this, you get the notion that we had a wonderful horseback riding vacation. We loved Costa Rica and will forever be grateful to Tina for making it all happen.
However, I have not mentioned cost. It was more expensive than a “canned” tour with maybe six or eight other equestrians – but not that much more, and we had Tina with us 24/7. Tina added incredible value to our experience. Was she fair and honest? Well, when we had our last dinner together I mentioned that I felt that we owed her additional funds. She responded that she would figure it out and tell us within a week or two. She kept her word – but she determined that she owed us money. Now I ask you, how many times have you had that experience?
Bucket list or not – make this a must do. You will love the experience and add it back to your list of “must do this again” experiences.
Costa Rica Horseback Riding Vacation
The Costa Rica Riding Company is a small, locally owned business located in the Province of Guanacaste, Costa Rica near Potrero, Flamingo, Huacas and Tamarindo . The Company is operated by Swedish-born Tina (Christina) Rahm. Rahm has lived in Costa Rica more than 30 years. As the horseback riding tour guide for Costa Rica Riding Company, Rahm points out the plant and animal life during your horseback riding holiday. She is multilingual, fluent in Swedish, Spanish, French and English.
The company operates its ranch “Finca Nimboyore” in Tempate, Costa Rica. This area was populated by Indians seven hundred years ago. To this day, there are still pieces of pottery found, representing some of the best era ceramics. Pottery is still made and sold today in a nearby village using the same methods and designs that were used hundreds of years ago.
Everything you need for a Costa Rica Horseback Riding Holiday
The Costa Rica Riding Company is equipped with all that is needed for a horseback riding vacation; horses, transportation for the horses, 4 wheel drive vehicles for intra tour transportation of riders, ranch hands that attend to the horses and a full working ranch “Finca Nimboyore” to create an ideal riding experience.
History of the Costa Rica Criollo Horse
Costa Rica Riding horses, criollos, originate from the Spanish Horse that the conquistadors brought to Costa Rica. Most stand about 15 hands, although there are a few taller ones in the company. These horses are known for their comfortable gait, surefootedness, and even temperament. Western tack is used. The saddle has canvas sides and plastic stirrups so that you can ride bare legged and in the water. English tack is also available on request.
Have you been horseback riding in Costa Rica?
What are your favorite things to do in Guanacaste, Costa Rica?
This is a guest post by Joseph Breman.
If You Go:
Costa Rica Trail Riding (2506) 8810-0080