Mountain Farm with Trails and Tuition, Costa Rica, March 2009, Juliet F.
My Trip to Costa Rica with my 8 year old son, Ray.
We had the best holiday we have ever had, it was just fabulous. My son learned to ride from scratch on a 4 year old pony called Al and I learned to REALLY ride as years of lessons had not taught me. Brenda, who was really generous with letting me ride her own lovely horses, is a very good and encouraging teacher of dressage and Elizabeth took me on some amazing trail rides.
Much more than that we were taken in as members of the family, fed marvellously, and Ray (8) was welcomed in by the group of four really wonderful home-schooled children – I scarcely saw him from 6 am when he scampered off to dinner time. There are several woofers (volunteer student workers) around who were all great, so there were lots of young people to talk to, and at night we slept in the wonderful treehouse and heard birds and animals all around us. I can’t recommend this too highly – especially for families (and perhaps most especially for single parents, it was fantastic for me as I was able to go out for whole days riding knowing Ray was completely happy). There are animals everywhere – puppies, goats (milked morning and night), cats, ducks, geese, chickens, rabbits, guinea pigs and of course the horses, all gleaming and happy.
This is not the tourist area of Costa Rica and Elizabeth, Brenda and their families are well integrated into the local community; the children are all bilingual in English and Spanish and we got to see some wonderful things such as sugar being boiled from cane, local rodeos and horse-breeders etc. The great thing about this experience was the personal attention we received; all our lessons were one on one, and all were on really good horses that were appropriately responsive to what we were trying to learn. Brenda is an excellent and very patient teacher: Raymond (8) who could ride very little and concentrate even less LOVED his lessons and learned a great deal. By the end of the holiday he was circling barrels, riding bareback, trotting with confidence and moving around the horses in the stable with calm knowledge. Brenda has several horses suitable for beginners and advanced beginners and allowed Raymond to quickly progress to Al, her 4 yr old pony, who Raymond absolutely loved. I had ridden quite a bit over the years but would have described myself as a beginner since I had no seat to speak of and no confidence: Brenda manged to give me both and, by letting me ride all her wonderfully responsive horses, made me understand how much more to riding there is than trying not to fall off! The trail rides with Elizabeth in the afternoon certainly helped in this respect, and by the end of two weeks I was proud to realise I could now begin to think of myself as someone who could ride, with pleasure, over most terrains and at all paces.
Ray and I both cried to come home and can’t wait to go back – the drawback with such a place is that it makes re-entry into the stresses and concrete of normal life very rough indeed! Thank you SO much for having arranged this for us, it really was a life-altering experience. I am starting saving immediately for a return trip (I don’t want to go anywhere else in the world but back there asap!) Juliet.
Read more about the ride here: Mountain Farm with Trails and Tuition, Costa Rica.