Riding Horses in Monteverde
Marvin is Monteverde's resident cowboy. He says he's been riding horses since he was still in his mom's belly. When he's not giving tours, he's training his prize horse Gladiator. I got to spend the day with Marvin, riding through dusty back streets of Monteverde and watching Gladiator perform tricks back at Marvin's ranch.
The sun hung just past early afternoon, as we arrived at the stables. After a brief look around, I met my horse; a sturdy Spanish quarter horse named Whiskey. I grabbed hold of the reins, looked him in the eyes and stroked his cheek – an important step before jumping on a new horse, Marvin said.
We rode from the stables toward Santa Elena. We walked behind the soccer field and through the community known as El Cementerio (named after the nearby local cemetery). The horses trotted along the dirt road and galloped up the hills past sugar cane fields and small country houses lined with wild flowers. The sun began its western roll toward the late afternoon as we passed though the small farming town of Cañitas. On the far side of town, we stopped for a coffee break and eased the stiffness in our legs. Afterwards, we looped through town and rode to Marvin's home.
Around the back of his house, Marvin had the ranch where he keeps his prized 11-year-old horse. He rounded him up and walked him into a small ring. Marvin's performance began with showing off Gladiator's discipline: the horse ran in circles around Marvin while Marvin stood in the center holding onto the reins with a single finger. Next he demonstrated the horse's math skills, Gladiator scratched the dirt with his hoof and counted to five. Both the obedience and intelligence were incredible – if only I could get my dog to listen this well. At one point Marvin had the horse lie down, then lied on top of the horse and pretended to fall asleep.
After the show, we jumped back on our horses and rode back into town as the sun heaved its last few rays over the horizon, burning red like a stoker shoveling coal in the fire's dying embers.