There’s something irresistibly romantic about a horse on the beach.
Costa Rica has a long and intimate history with horses. Working horses are still quite common in Costa Rica. The sabañeros of Guanacaste are exceptional riders and in many rural areas a horse may still be a family’s main mode of transportation.
One of the most popular parts of any fiesta patronal (regional celebrations of history and culture) is the Tope – a parade of the horses and show of horsemanship.
Horseback riding tours are available in most tourist destinations but it’s worth being circumspect. On big destination beaches like Tamarindo and Jacó and in resort areas some of the horses are not particularly well cared for. The best way to encourage better care is to only patronize established tour companies or at least take a look at the horses you’re thinking about mounting and considering whether they look healthy and well fed or not.
Of course horses are rarely used to ride up and down the beach in real life.
One of the best rides I’ve ever taken in Costa Rica was from a small ranch on the road near Tierras Morenas through the pastures and forest on the lower slopes of Volcán Tenorio to reach the foot of the crater hiking trail. There are several excellent long rides (some with over-nights) through horse and cattle country in the north west and central regions. Two of the best places to look are at Leaves and Lizards north of La Fortuna and Arenal Volcano and through Janet at Monteverde Tours.