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Horse Parade in Santa Maria de Dota

Horse Parade in Santa Maria de DotaLooking for something to do this coming weekend? There will be a Tope, typical horse parade in Santa Maria de Dota at 12:00md this Saturday (Feb 5th, 2011).

If the usual happens it will start an hour or two late. But there are going to be plenty of people watching the horse parade in Santa Maria de Dota and other activities before it starts.

I’ve even seen signs in town offering horses for rent for 50,000 colones if you want to participate. I do think you have to bring your own whiskey flask though).

If you are planning to relocate to Costa Rica and you like living in a rural area where you can buy Costa Rica real estate and live that laid back lifestyle you are probably looking for, you should have a hard look at buying a home in Los Santos.

Though not nearly as big as the horse parades in San Jose or Palmares, Santa Maria to me is just the right size to get a good view of the event.  I’ve been to the Palmares horse parade but I prefer the horse parade in Santa Maria de Dota. I couldn’t even get a view of the main event. I try to stay away from San Jose when there are large events going on.


Los Santos (the area Santa Maria is part of) is a place of great farming and agricultural tradition. It is one of the best places to retire. Horses have an important place in the history of the area. The reason is that most families that have colonized the area either had farms or raised horses.

Ox Carts

Horse owners, farmworkers, and farm owners come to Santa Maria de Dota from all over the area. They bring their best animals to the horse parade.  Instead of racing, the horses are trained to take special steps, almost dancing for the spectators that line the streets.  You may also see the typical hand-painted ox-carts.  The girls are all made up, wearing flashy cowgirl outfits, and the men are right behind.  The event is all about how good you look while riding your horse. And to impress the crowd with how many fancy steps your horse can maneuver.

Horse Parade in Santa Maria de Dota

A Safe Place

If you do come to Santa Maria, a few other things that you might want to do while you are up in the area. I recommend you go and see the new Pirris Dam. They just started filling it last Tuesday and it should take about three months to completely fill.  There is also the Quetzal National Park, the newest park in Costa Rica.  Since Los Santos is in the higher mountains of Costa Rica, you might find it a refreshing change of weather, climate, and people.  Los Santos is known as the safest place in Costa Rica.


Would you like to visit the horse parade in Santa Maria de Dota? To get here take the Interamerican highway between Cartago and San Isidro del General, turn off en El Empalme toward Santa Maria.  It’s between a 2 and 3-hour drive from San Jose.  Take your time and enjoy the views.

The Los Santos Valley enjoys a near-perfect comfort temperature range hovering within a few degrees above and below 70ºF (20ºC) with no need for air conditioning. Lovely cool nights and crisp, clean air is taken for granted.

The majority of the people here live from agriculture. Small farms dot the mountainsides growing all sorts of crops from lettuce, potatoes, broccoli, mustard, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and much more.

The Author

By Tony Warren, your friend in the Los Santos area. Los Santos is on the Pacific side of the Talamanca Mountain Range. Dota rises up to over 9000 feet, giving it a wide range of micro-climates. An occasional frost in the upper mountain ranges during the cooler months is not uncommon. Yet in the lower ranges, you will find that tropical fruits such as pineapple flourish.

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