arenal volcano 2The last activity we were hoping to complete which we did not have booked was horseback riding to the volcano. Every tour company we spoke to offered this including Desafio and the tour company at our hotel and the hotel where we did the zip lining. Since we had such a great time with Carlos and Rafael at the zip line we figured we would stay at this hotel, have some lunch and join their horseback riding tour in the afternoon.

The same shuttle driver came and picked us up after lunch to take us to the horse stables a few minutes away. When we arrived we learned that we would be the only people on this tour too. Sadly, this experience was not nearly as fun as some of the others. Our guide did not speak English and we don’t speak enough Spanish so odds were not in our favor. I had never ridden a horse before so I was expecting a bit of a lesson, which did not happen. The guide helped us on our horses and led us off immediately onto the path.

Now it was rainy season in Costa Rica so the path was very muddy and rocky. I was terrified as we started going downhill on this narrow slippery path. At the end of the path I caught my breath for a minute until I realized now we had to go uphill on a similar path and this was much harder for the horses. At one point my horse lost his back footing and struggled to get up for a couple of minutes. Thank goodness I was able to hold on. After this my horses nerves were shaken as I could feel him panting for the next five minutes and my confidence was gone.

We tried to ask the guide if this was normal and if the path was safe but we couldn’t communicate properly. He did not seem alarmed so I suppose it was okay but I needed reassurance. A few times our horses wandered away from the guide and he would have to come back and get us. I didn’t know how to instruct the horse where to go. I hit the end of my patience when it started to downpour. At this point my horse did not want to continue on and stopped on the edge of the mountain path while Little Star and the guide continued on. After what seemed like 5 minutes I started calling out for the guide to come back and help. I was starting to get nervous my horse would take off on his own with me attached. When the guide eventually came back I told him we wanted to go back and did not feel safe. It was a bit of a struggle to understand but we got the point across and he turned us around.

Of course, now we had to travel that same scary path another 25 minutes back to the stables. After traveling this path a second time I started to feel a bit more confident in the horse and the ride so maybe if we had stuck with it we would have been okay by the mid-point. In the end I feel like this was our only experience in Costa Rica where I felt unsafe. The white water rafting and zip lining were both scary but I always felt confident in the guides and the equipment. Lesson learned, we took this tour site unseen and didn’t ask the right questions. Other tours I saw specified if they were for beginners or intermediate riders and maybe we should have figured out that a ride up the side of a volcano would not be for novices like us.

Even two months later as I am writing about the experience my heart is racing and I’m feeling a bit anxious. Time to take a break for a glass of wine!

Continue to Part 3

Go back to Day 5 – Part 1