“Okay Casey. You’ve got this. Show her who is in charge. Don’t let her eat the grass. You can do it. Pull a little more to the right. Hold her there.”
These were the encouraging words of Alberto Junior. By his calm and patient tone, you would never have known I was busy going around and around in circles, struggling to maintain my authority over the beautiful brown steed, Canela.
With Alberto’s coaching, I tightened my grasp, stroked her neck, and sang encouraging words. Canela’s only response was a stubborn neigh and large chomp of grass. Guess we discovered who was really in charge here.
Before I had a chance to get frustrated over my lack of horse-whisperer skills, Alberto had climbed down from his own mount, suggesting we try a switch. Miraculously, this did the trick; apparently I’m more of a stallion kind of girl. I softly murmured to my new horse that this was new to me, asking him to be kind. Whether he understood or not, my plea seemed to help. At the very least I was no longer walking in circles.
Feeling a bit more settled and less likely to be thrown to the ground, it was time to get riding. A striking view of Arenal Volcano commanded the foreground. Somewhere at the end of the countryside that stretched out before us was La Fortuna Waterfall, the destination of our ride.
This was our first grown-up horseback riding experience. No ponies. No rope to lead the way. No overcrowded tour group. It was just me, Dan, Alberto, and our horses—and it was amazing. As birds flitted across the sky and strawberry poison dart frogs’ croaks filled the air, we couldn’t help but have one of those ‘oh-my-gosh-this-is-my-life’ sort of moments.
It was soon time to take our riding up a notch. We set through the woods, up and down muddy embankments and across a gushing stream. Hearing our horses click-clacking across the slippery stones below, I couldn’t help but marvel at how these stunning animals keep their balance. Alberto must have read my thoughts—or my body language—and quickly reassured me that horses are more than capable of crossing a small river. While I thoroughly believed him, I wondered at it all the same.
All too soon it was time to give the horses a break and finish our journey on foot. 480 steps separated us from the La Fortuna Waterfall. Going down would be easy—it was the return climb we knew to dread. But with the sound of rushing water beckoning us down, thinking about the return journey would just have to wait.
La Fortuna Waterfall is a truly spectacular site. Cascading into a vibrant blue pool, the waterfall not only provides a fantastic photo op, but also a welcoming spot to swim. The freezing temperatures coupled with the cool chill of rainy season meant we only stayed in a moment, but swimming at the base of such a powerful waterfall was certainly not an opportunity we could easily pass up.
Surviving the climb back up the 480 steps, we were reunited with our horses. Increasingly confident in our riding ability, we picked up our trotting pace. Alberto even assisted us in galloping, though I admittedly began shrieking the moment my horse took off. I think it’s better for everyone if I stick to trotting for now.
All too soon we were back at the stables. Despite my rocky start, I was truly sad to say goodbye to my horse. I even gave grumpy ol’ Canela a bit of a rub before saying my final farewell.
Horseback riding turned out to be just one of the many ‘firsts’ we experienced in La Fortuna, but it easily remained one of our favorites.
Alberto’s Horses is a family-run operation—an increasingly hard thing to come by in cities that have been saturated with less than satisfactory tour operators. Not only has the business been in the family for generations, Alberto has purposefully chosen to keep it that way, turning down bigger business partners that have no consideration for the customer. Alberto’s passion for horses is obvious in every aspect of the company; it’s in their care for their animals, their attention to detail, and their commitment to providing their clients with small, personal horseback riding experiences. Alberto’s Horses is a business that we are proud to support.
A half-day of horseback riding, including entrance to the waterfall, costs $65.
We were guests of Alberto’s Horses as part of our #yourRica blog trip. All thoughts and opinions remain our own. We hand-select the companies we work with to ensure we only bring you top-quality businesses and services.