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Beware - horseback riding incident

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Montreal, Canada
posts: 3
Beware - horseback riding incident

Hi all,

I booked a horseback riding trip in Montezuma at Montezuma Eco Tours. We asked if it was possible to book a tour at 3pm. At first the guy (Alex, the manager) seemed reluctant but finally he accomodated us. There were 3 of us and none of us had good experience in horseback riding, but it didnt seem to matter.

I'm left with the impression that safety was the least important concern when the manager accepted to book the trip.

-We weren't taught any horseback riding basics. They just told us that to go left or right you pull the cord left or right and to stop you pull both. No security guidelines

-We didnt have helmets

-We went through very tortuous, steep, rocky and muddy trails. I would say expert trails. The horses seemed to be afraid and so was I.

-The tide was up so we had to go through the waves at some points, which seemed to frighten the horses a bit more.

I had a bad feeling from the beginning. And at the end of Playa Grande we had to cross a pile of debris that were washed by the sea... wooden logs, rubbish etc. Very deep and hard to cross. The horses didnt want to go there at first and turned around. Then the guide tied all the horses one on front of the other and lead the way through the debris. At this point, my horse panicked and stood up. I fell on the side and the horse fell on my right thigh. I was lucky it was not broken, but I have an hematoma in the muscle so I can forget surfing, hiking or snorkeling for the rest of my trip. After, the two other horses panicked and one girl fell on her bum and hurt herself too.

I didnt want to climb back on the horse so we had to walk back 4km. and since we left late it was dark when we came back. They could not send a quad to get us or anything.

So not a good experience at all. And we could not get more than a third of our money back. No sorry or anything.

So a piece of advice, before booking tourist trips ask about the conditions and go to more than one place.

Costa Rica
posts: 19,535
reviews: 23
11. Re: Beware - horseback riding incident

I agree with you Simon L. I'm not sure just how you would check out a tour company for where they take their horses. Of course, check out the company as roadadvisor advised but I don't know how you would check out the route.

Maybe the best idea for someone considering a horseback ride is to check here on Trip Advisor and then ask around the local area to see who has the best reputation.

San Jose, Costa Rica
posts: 3,527
12. Re: Beware - horseback riding incident

Well I can say that Chavez tours in Arenal provides helmets, Ecoterra in Arenal, discovery horses in Jaco do, I have also taken tours in Manuel Antonio and they provided helmets. I have to agree that they will not keep you 100% safe but they might be very helpful to try to avoid injuries

La Fortuna de San...
posts: 1,996
reviews: 103
13. Re: Beware - horseback riding incident

All of the horse tours done in La Fortuna use helmets....just an FYI.

Seattle, Washington
posts: 2,505
reviews: 13
14. Re: Beware - horseback riding incident

Finca Valmy in Manuel Antonio uses helmets and they provide a short lesson on how to direct the horses.

Montezuma, Costa...
posts: 538
reviews: 8
15. Re: Beware - horseback riding incident

My husband and I run a horse tour company. I won't mention our name so as not to go against self-promotion guidelines.

I know the trail you are talking about. It is steep & rocky in parts, but with proper instruction you can traverse it in safety, we take complete beginners all the time, including children

If the horses know the trail well, are well treated and suffer no stress it helps a lot.

Accidents can always happen, but guides should take all precautions to avoid them.

For instance

Tying horses one behind the other with riders on is a big no-no

Our guide (my husband) dismounts, removes dangerous debris and if necessary dismounts the riders for that part.

Animals can be unpredictable (kinda like people : ) but having a good guide and proper instruction helps a lot with safety & comfort of both the horse & the rider.

The tide absolutely dictates tour times. It was irresonsible of the tour company & the guide to go at that time, and not to give you proper instruction.

You don't need riding experience to do this tour. However your fears seem to be justified, and you don't need to be an expert rider to know when an animal is nervous.

Just as an FYI - we do have helmets for children, but helmets for adults are mainly used when racing & jumping which is not normaly done on trail rides.

I'm very sorry for your bad experience. I hope it doesn't deter you from trying again, but with people who care about their clients and animals safety.

Keep on riding. Cheers, Yellabrick

Costa Rica
posts: 19,535
reviews: 23
16. Re: Beware - horseback riding incident

So glad to see your thoughtful post on this, yellabrick! I think your information should be put in a "Top Questions" so everybody who consults Trip Advisor can read it before taking that horseback ride.

posts: 9
reviews: 4
17. Re: Beware - horseback riding incident

I am confused......trip advisor- as I would interpret it, gives advice to others who will be taking a trip...

I read thru this post and find folks defending the situation as it occurred and blame the animal, the landscape, a snake, etc.....

The operator IS the owner of the blame. The tour company that set up the activity IS to blame. The lack of contingency plans IS the tour company's fault.

Roadadvisor once wisely said "a mad customer is better than a dead customer". Tourist expect and are owed safety and honesty built into the price. I am not sure anyone would expect horses to be "tied" together to encourage them to continue. This portion of the adventure would have been a game ender for me! Doesn't seem wise, safe or appropriate.

Thank you Simon for the information that will most definitely help others! Look around town, there are better options and I know they will be apparent when you look a little closer.

Uvita, Costa Rica
Destination Expert
for Uvita, Ojochal
posts: 2,012
reviews: 26
18. Re: Beware - horseback riding incident

Thanks Yellabrickcr, its good to have some feedback from an expert! Its great info for visitors and people who recoment horse tours.

San Jose, Costa Rica
Destination Expert
for Costa Rica
posts: 39,277
19. Re: Beware - horseback riding incident

Thank you SIMON...and of course thank you Yellabricker...so nice and interesting your explanation and point of view!

roadadvisor

Edited: 2:23 pm, September 15, 2011
Halifax, Canada
posts: 185
reviews: 32
20. Re: Beware - horseback riding incident

We used Finca Valmy when we were in the Manual Antonio area. We were provided with a short safety lesson and given helmets to wear. The guides were very knowledgeable and friendly. Nice tour through the rainforest followed by a tasty lunch at the owners home. This was a fantastic experience from start to finish.