Fill an important part of our horse’s lives. Volunteer some time to these wonderful animals. Share your love for them here in their forever home.

Volunteer Position 1

The first volunteer position is for an experienced horse person trail guide-assistant riding instructor. You will need a decent understanding of natural horsemanship seven games at least around level three in all savvys, to help teach natural horsemanship games to my beginners, Therefore you need to be patient and diplomatic. Our client’s experience is very important to us. you will be in charge of the horse’s daily feeding. This is a six-month minimum commitment. Please send experience bio and photos of you with horses. You will also be expected to help or fill in for the second volunteer position. You can also bring a friend that would like to learn natural horsemanship to fill the second volunteer position.

Volunteer Position 2

For this position, I am looking for volunteers for the daily care of the horses. you will be cleaning the barn and poop scooping, cleaning the horse’s turnout area, and will also be in charge of turning out and bringing in the horses twice daily. our older retired horses will enjoy your attention with daily grooming and hand grazing.
There is a two-week commitment for this position.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Work Exchange

What language is spoken on the farm?

I (Brenda) speak English and my husband Abelʼs first language is Spanish. Life on the farm is primarily conducted in English, and all lessons are taught in English.

There is very little English spoken in the neighborhood we live in, should you feel social and adventurous.

Are there opportunities to socialize with locals?

The entire area we are in is Spanish-speaking. You will need to be active in pursuing this socialization, however. Keep in mind that we live in a rural area, where are aren’t many shops or restaurants.

Will I have access to a refrigerator or kitchen?

We do not provide your food so please make yourself at home. You will have access to the porch kitchen all day. You can keep your parishables in the porch fridge.

How many hours/day will I be expected to work? And how many days/week?

Each morning, expect to spend around two hours distributing the feed and water and cleaning stalls and paddock. In the evening you will clean the stalls and feed the horses, which takes around 30 to 40 mins.

The horses do need care every day, so you are typically expected to pitch in 7 days a week, but days off can be arranged beforehand.

Will I have any downtime? What if I want to go explore somewhere else for a day?

You will have down time most days of the week. Interns usually enjoy hanging out on the veranda, visiting with the animals, going on hikes in the surrounding mountains, or going into town.

What is transportation like? Can somebody pick me up at the airport?

Fuller details on traveling to/from Establo San Rafael are listed on the “Getting Here” page, but the short answer is:

Yes, we have an Uber guy we trust I can send you his # or we can arrange your airport pickup with him for a reasonable fee.

As for getting around locally, in addition to Uber and taxis this region of Costa Rica has a good public transportation system. You can catch a bus from the farm to the local town of Puriscal for 300 colones (about 50 cents US). (We have bus the schedule posted in the kitchen.)

Do you practice a specific type of natural horsemanship?

I use a lot of the Parelli curriculum but I began my journey with horses when I was 15 with Monty Robertʼs philosophy. I have been influenced by many others throut the years including David Litchman, Nita Jo Rush, and others.

What should I pack to bring with me?
  • A raincoat would be good if itʼs rainy season.
  • Rubber boots, such as Wellingtons (you can also buy these in Puriscal)
  • Long pants that are not too tight for riding
  • A light long sleeve shirt for the sun
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug repellent
  • Hat-cap for the sun
  • A light sweater, it can get chilly at night
  • Flashlight and spare batteries
  • A good sports bra for riding (for females)
  • A book to read, sketchbook and art supplies, or other materials to enjoy during down time

I also suggest picking up a pre-paid SIM card with Movistar or Kolbi on your way to the farm so that you can have phone and internet data on your personal smartphone. Pre-paid SIM cards are available at the airport, as well as at numerous shops and kiosks in just about any town. (Note that credit must be purchased with cash.)

Is there WiFi on the farm?

There is a WiFi router in the main house. You may want to pick up a pre-paid SIM card with Movistar or Kolbi on your way to the farm so that you can have phone and internet data on your personal smartphone. Pre-paid SIM cards are available at the airport, at numerous shops in just about any town. (Note that phone/data credit must be purchased with cash.)

What's included with the volunteering?

Your volunteering covers your room electric and water, but not your food.

When you go to town you will want to buy your food and personal items.

You will also be responsible for the expense of your travel to/from the farm.

Where can I do my laundry?

You are welcome to use the washing machine and clothesline. (We don’t have a drier.)

Will I have my own room?

Yes. All interns get their own private room, with shared bathroom.

How many other volunteers will be there? Is it more of a social scene or mellow?

There are usually one to two volunteers.  This means it’s usually more quiet, or tranquillo here – definitely not a party scene!

Can I buy a lesson or trail ride?

Yes, see our Lessons or Trail ride page.

“Establo San Rafael was more than I had hoped for. I traveled from Canada to Costa Rica alone and really didnʼt know what to expect. I spent three weeks on the farm and can honestly say that by the end of the third week I was wishing I had more time. The horses are beautiful, well cared for, and full of personality. There is a horse for everybody, whether youʼre a beginner or have been riding your whole life. If you want to improve your dressage I would definitely recommend E.S.R; Brenda is an amazing coach. The trails were beautiful. Everyone about the area is beautiful and even if you arenʼt into horseback riding there is a waterfall/swimming hole nearby that I visited a few times. Overall, my time in Puriscal was amazing and I would definitely recommend this farm to anyone.” ~ Justine, Canada

“My time at the farm has been the best time of my life. I have never felt happier. Friendly animals (horses), beautiful nature and of course amazing people. Brenda and her family all have such big hearts, and such love for each other and the animals. I came as a work-study. The work was sometimes hard, but always rewarding (think banana pancakes for breakfast!). I learned so much. I constantly dream of returning. Be sure to check the timetable for the bus when coming up, everything runs on Costa Rica time. The best way to learn natural horsemanship.” ~ Nina, Germany

Truly an earthquake to my life – place, time, and people that found permanent residence in my heart. My first month in Costa Rica I spent working as an intern at Estabolo San Rafael. Brenda introduced me to a special natural horsemanship language that has not only opened a way for me to communicate with the horses but has also taught me a great deal about being a good leader and a genuine friend. Perhaps horses have things to teach us sometimes? People Iʼve met here have energized me in many ways they probably didnʼt even realize – I am so grateful for the guidance and the companionship I have found here. ~ Zhanetta

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