Tag Archives: Costa Rica

Amusing Monday: Swimming horses and other water creatures

Horses that are accustomed to swimming with riders seem to truly enjoy the cool water on a hot day, according to Katie Dillon, a travel writer who experienced the thrill of swimming horses on Grand Cayman Island in the Caribbean.

Katie’s video, which features her daughter, is the first on this page. A Southern California resident, Katie describes the actions of the horses, which are owned by a company called Pampered Ponies.

“They walked rather slowly into the water until they couldn’t touch the bottom, she wrote in a blog post. “I couldn’t distinguish when the actual swimming started as it felt more or less the same as a slow walk.

“At some point, I looked down to see their legs moving in more of a circular motion. The guide confirmed that, yes, they’re swimming and stuck my GoPro underwater to capture it.

“What cracked me up is that all of the horses grinned from ear to ear,” she added. “They started to hum, too. Hilarious.”

After I watched the video, I did some reading to find out if this kind of swimming is OK for horses. I learned that this activity is much more common than I thought.

“There are few things that equal the exhilaration of taking a horse swimming on a hot summer day. They like it, too!” writes Dr. Rebecca Gimenez, a veterinarian who has dedicated her life to abused and neglected animals.

“The power that you experience as they surge forward, paddling strongly through the water is fun, but it can be dangerous, she writes in a safety guide to the activity.

Some of the perils of riding a horse in water is spelled out by Rebecca in Part 1 of a two-part series called “Don’t Drown Your Horse.” Part 2 involves suggestions and safety tips. The series was published in the online magazine “The Horse.”

The second video, posted by Alison Zook, shows horses swimming with riders in the waters of Costa Rica.

I was able to locate numerous other amusing videos showing animals that swim, although most do not have riders. Here are my favorites so far:

Amusing Monday: A friendship of the reptilian kind

We’ve talked about unusual friendships, but you haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen the videos showing Gilberto “Chito” Sheeden, a Costa Rican man, wrestling with and even cuddling with Pocho, a 15-foot crocodile.

A story in the London Daily Mail (with some great still photos) quoted Chito in 2009, when he was 52:

“This is a very dangerous routine, but Pocho is my friend and we have a good relationship. He will look me in the eye, and he does not attack me. It is too dangerous for anyone else to come in the water. It is only ever the two of us.”

The pictures of Chito and Pocho tell you more than anyone can describe, but the question remains how such a friendship could ever develop.

As Chito tells it, he found the crocodile close to death about 20 years ago on the shore of a river, where he had been shot in the eye by a farmer who said the crocodile had been feasting on his cattle.

Chito brought the crocodile home, fed him and nursed him back to health, even sleeping at his side. Later, he began to play with him, cautiously at first and then more vigorously over time.

Chito and Pocho became somewhat famous around the world, although I never saw these videos until recently, when Chuck Hower of South Kitsap sent me some still photos showing the pair. Since then, I’ve learned from the Tico Times that the crocodile died in October of natural causes. His age was estimated to be about 50.

Despite reports of the friendship, a story published by “Inside Costa Rica” says crocodiles cannot be tamed, because their brains are too primitive to react other than instinctively — which often means attack.

So why didn’t Pocho attack Chito? Experts at Costa Rica’s inBio Parque, say the bullet that blinded the animal could have affected his brain, eliminating his aggressive tendencies. If Chito had not taken care of Pocho until his final days, the animal surely would have died, because he was unable to fend for himself, the experts said.

I found two other good videos about the friendship on YouTube, one by bTV, the other by Aicirta. I believe the three videos I picked out are among the best, but I was unable to review all of the dozens of videos on YouTube that feature the pair.