Pounding hooves and heart beats

It was lunchtime at El Coco Loco when Bodhi arrived. He had come up to the restaurant to let Jamie know that he was here to drop off the horses. We were going to ride along the beach later that day and he was providing the livestock. Holly wasn’t there; she had taken some of the more experienced girls out to an advanced surf spot. I was the only one at the table so I introduced myself. Bodhi sat down and we lunched together.

Bodhi was from California but had been in Nicaragua for five years chasing adventure and love. He happened into the horse business and was now providing all the horses for Holly’s retreats. He inquired about my riding background and guaranteed me that I would enjoy today, claiming his horses were mild-tempered, responsive, and above all, fast. When we finished lunch, he asked if I wanted to go down and check out the horses. I agreed and followed him down to the meadow where they were tied.

I spent some time admiring his horses. He said that they were the most well fed in Nica, and he might have been right, but they looked skinny to me. He had two local village guides with him. They both looked like teenagers and smiled politely at me. He asked me if I wanted to go for a ride before the other girls got back. I said sure; I had nothing else to do and figured two riding sessions was always better than one.

Bodhi offered to let me ride his horse, a small bay named Mocacco. I felt like giant on his delicate frame but I liked his gentle demeanor. The seventeen year old guide, Umberto, was to accompany me to the beach. He hopped on his albino and off we went.

It was high tide and there was very little beach to ride on. While Mocacco wasn’t afraid of the water, he certainly wasn’t a fan. He kept trying to high step his hooves out of the water. Umberto’s horse also didn’t like the water and kept pushing up next to mine to try to get away from the waves. At this point we decided to cut across through the road and through the estuary.

Umberto didn’t speak English so it provided me an opportunity to practice my Spanish-speaking skills. He complimented me on my riding abilities and asked me where I was from. I tried to answer, but I could only communicate on a decent level about the horses. I think if nothing else I provided good entertainment. And it felt amazing to be back on a horse again.

We passed by many a local villager. I was surprised at how friendly and welcoming they all were. We would exchange salutations and they would wish me a good ride and a good day.

After we rode for a while, I asked to head back. Clouds were starting to form and I could hear some rumbles of thunder in the distance. We galloped back down the beach, racing each other. I couldn’t help but giggle at the surrealism. What an amazing experience.

As we approached the trail to El Coco Loco, Umberto slowed down and pointed to the road. Holly and the other girls were driving back. They waved at us as they turned in.

We walked the horses back to the rest of the herd. I thanked Umberto and gave Mocacco a pat. He was a sweet horse.

Holly would later take the group out with Umberto guiding us. She wanted us to go sooner than later because the storm was still building, and we expected a downpour at any moment.

Holly would provide a mini lesson for the girls who weren’t familiar with horses on how to direct them and the proper way to sit. We would walk together up to the beach and make sure that everyone was situated. Then, the moment we hit the sand, Holly let out a “Yeehaw!” and took off with Helina at her side. Mocacco immediately broke into a gallop after them, clearly not wishing to be outrun by the other horses.

The tide was lower, but waves were breaking a few feet from us as we galloped past. I had to catch my breath, checking myself that yes, I was riding on a beach of Nicaragua as the sun was setting on the horizon. There was so much happiness swelling within me, I had to laugh to release some of my excitement. I kept telling myself to remember this feeling, leaving Holly to document the moment for me.

We would ride past the house that Holly had chosen during her House Hunters International episode. We would once again ride through the estuary with waves breaking against our horses bellies. Helina would turn and laugh at me, saying, “Isn’t this what you always wanted? To swim with your horse?” I laughed with her. She was right; since my trip to Cancun I’d missed swimming with horses. This wasn’t exactly what I’d had in mind, but I didn’t care. The moment was perfect.

At one point on our ride we would pass a field with a mare and foal. The foal would leave his mother and join our procession. We adored our little buckskin stray.

On our way back to El Coco Loco, we would stop at a local store and enjoy some cold cervezas. We toasted each other and debated the local methods of how to determine the sex of chickens. Our foal friend would say goodbye at this point and head down the road calling for his mom.

We rode back down the beach, the sun just starting to disappear behind the water. My saddle was starting to get uncomfortable at this point, reminding me of sitting on a plank of wood, but I didn’t care. My hair was whipping in my face and I couldn’t hear my thoughts over the pounding of my heart and the hooves of Mocacco.

As we rode back to El Coco Loco the waves sung their lullaby against the shore. I wondered if there would ever be a better moment than this.

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