Today we’re horse back riding through the jungle—another exciting instalment in my family’s jungle adventures on the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica.
Follow all our adventures here: Jungle Adventure!
We are a little spoiled when it comes to horseback riding in Costa Rica. Rosita lives on a small farm about 5 km from our jungle home. We arrange through a phone call to Sierpe to join her on a trail ride.
She brings all six horses to our home early Monday morning. Rosita speaks no English, not even Hello. I do my best with my limited Spanish, making sweeping gestures with my arms on occasion and declaring, “Bella Vista!” and then,”Buena Vista!”
Horseback riding in the jungle is something I am unprepared for. I wear jean shorts and shoes (thinking my rubber boots will be too heavy on horseback). Rosita shows up in jeans and rubber boots. It takes me about 30 seconds to figure out why Rosita’s jeans and boots trump my ensemble, one word: JUNGLE!
Costa Rica has some of the most deadly and aggressive snakes in the world (the fer de lance viper is aggressive and hides in fallen leaves on trails). I figured I’d finally get a break from watching every single step I take in the jungle because now that is my horse’s job. But I forgot about tree snakes—the eyelash viper likes to hang like a vine form trees…
Brown Kneeing It In The Jungle
My dear horse is named Disa (pronounced Deeza). We bond almost instantly. She is a mother, I am a mother. She likes to lead, I like to lead. Disa pushes her way to the front of the line of horses along the narrow jungle trail. This means two things for me:
#1 Forget about avoiding tree snakes. Disa pushes me into the jungle leaves and trees (snakes be damned!) as she charges past all the horses to the front of the line. My bare legs are open for snake bites.
#2 Brown Knees. Disa seems to forget that I have legs and that when she passes another horse closely on the jungle trail, I have no way of getting rid of my legs! My knee has no place to go but is forcefully pushed into the bottom of the horse Disa is determined to pass. My knee doesn’t just graze the horse’s tail (despite my best attempts); it is forced under the tail, literally into the horses bum. I have brown knees—truth. I am brown-kneeing it through the jungle…who knew this circumstance even existed? I share my brown knee shame with my daughter Tabs. She is riding Disa’s daughter and Disa’s daughter is as determined to lead as her mother.
The jungle trail is wet from recent rain (we are visiting at the start of rainy season). The orange, terracotta soil is slippery. The horses have amazing, delicate balance as they slip and step their way down steep, narrow and mud trails.
I pray the horses have expert balance for if they trip and fall, the trail is so steep, I think we will all be goners. The trick is to hold onto the front and back of the saddle (at the same time) down the steep and slippery slopes.
We ride to a jungle stream and then back to Rosita’s farm for short stop. Tabs jumps off her horse and calls her, “My angel.” Rosita understands the word angel, laughs and then smiles. I guess no one has referred to her horses as angels before.
I actually know how monkey’s eat mangos as I find discarded 1/2 eaten mangos all around the trails of our jungle home (see above picture).
I notice Rosita also washes her hands in the rain barrel so I am not convinced the water is the best place to wash fruit. However, when in the jungle…I eat my mango like a monkey.
Rosita offers us frozen homemade milk treats in brilliant primary shades. Mist and Pippi take one.
By the end of the ride I have surrendered to the jungle. If a snake is going to bite me, that’s just the way it’s going to be. I accept that I have no control over how many times my bare legs are thrust into jungle trees.
I love riding Disa. Despite the heat, she never gives up hauling my butt up steep and slippery jungle trails. I pat her neck a lot and offer words of encouragement. We understand each other.
We ride for three hours and then part ways with Rosita. I attempt to speak Spanish to her for the last few minutes. What I say and what she understands is a bit of a mystery to me but she does call me loco at some point. Perhaps she understands me after all .
Good bye sweet Disa; I will truly miss you.