The Evolution of Horse Riding in Nosara
Given the slew of Hollywood movies portraying the supposed evolution of America’s Wild West as a tale of heroic cowboys galloping around on their trusty steeds, it’s easy to assume that horses are as native to America, as, well, the native Americans who got shot by the guys riding them. Well guess what – Hollywood actually got it wrong, particularly about the horses.
The evolutionary history of horses in America is vague at best, so let’s just stick with what we know. Fossils unearthed from the hills and plains of Wyoming, Idaho and a few other places indicate at one time, horses were indeed native to continental America. For millions of years they roamed the Americas with a physical makeup nearly identical to that of their African and European counterparts. Then one day, they simply vanished into thin air.
The continental American fossil record indicates that somewhere between 8-12,000 years ago, horses, along with several other species of megafauna that had flourished for hundreds of millions of years simply became extinct. The causal factors behind this extinction remain subject to debate. However, the leading culprits are thought to be either sudden climate change, or massive over-hunting of native fauna by the newly arrived brainiac monkeys, AKA humans, that had recently crossed from continental Eurasia via the Bering Strait land bridge linking the two land masses. Most historians theorize it was likely a combination of both factors. Nevertheless, the net result was the same for both horses and many other creatures.
Fast forward to fifteenth century. The Bering Land strait had by now long been submerged under the ocean. However, by now, the same brainiac monkeys had got together and come up with ocean going vehicles sturdy enough to traverse bodies of water that had been previously impossible due to their size. The first of these individuals was Christopher Columbus, who brought a treasure trove of objects and cultural narratives never before seen by the native people. Along with smallpox, rape, mass enslavement, land and mineral theft, and a policy of domination from which native peoples would never recover he also brought a team of 16 Iberian horses selected for their strength and endurance. This group of animals would become the forebears of the vast majority of horses alive in North, South, and Central America today.
Under Spanish rule, the landscape of the Nicoya peninsula changed rapidly. Although evidence suggests that Chorotega natives used limited farming practices, such methods of food production grew exponentially under Spanish rule. Huge swathes of the Nicoya peninsula jungle, including much of the terrain in around the Nosara area were razed to make way for wheat production, sugarcane plantations, and cattle grazing. The cattle trade flourished, which laid the foundation for the cowboy culture of Nicoya that still remains so prevalent today.
It was this cattle trade that paved the foundation for the horse riding customs that are today so deeply ingrained into the Costa Rican culture. In addition to having both the finest horses, and the finest horsemen and women in Costa Rica, the areas around Nosara also have some of the most spectacular terrain anywhere. Consequently, ask any residents, or long time visitors to Nosara the best way to explore the mountain trails, beaches, rain forests, and other landscapes in the area and the reply may well be “perched atop of a horse.”
For beginners or veterans alike there are several different horse riding outfits to choose from in the Nosara area. Fortunately, these providers are staffed and managed by some of the best in the business, all of whom share a deep love for their profession and their animals.
The type of tours available vary. Among the most popular are the jungle trails adjacent to the Rio Nosara, which then pass through the wildlife reserve and come out at the ocean. Other tours include Playa Pelada through to Playa Guiones.
Interested in horse riding? Check out some companies that offer this amazing tour!