John and I are editors of a pet resource listing on Chiriqui.life, an online community for residents of Panama’s Chiriqui Province. (Here’s how all that came about, if you’re interested). In that role, we recently had a chance to interview Jessica Schrock of the Boquete Equestrian Center – just up the road from our home in Alto Boquete. Here’s the full article as published on Chiriqui.life.
RIDE IT LIKE YOU STOLE IT!
A Conversation with Jessica Schrock of the Boquete Equestrian Center
We’ve driven by the BEC hundreds of times, and we even use it as a landmark for people coming to our house from Boquete. “Turn right on the first paved street by the Equestrian Center.” But it’s only been recently – as we’ve researched horse-related products and services for Chiriqui Life – that we’ve gotten to find out what the BEC is all about. And a very impressive facility it is, with both covered and open riding arenas, a main house and casita, and plenty of enclosed pastures on a large, historically significant piece of property in Alto Boquete.
After receiving an awesome list of recommended equestrian services from BEC owner Jessica Schrock, we had a chance to tour the center and ask her some questions about the center.
CL: SO HOW DID YOU COME TO ESTABLISH THE BOQUETE EQUESTRIAN CENTER?
JESSICA: I grew up in Langley, Canada, right across the border from the U.S. I’m the fourth generation of horse people in my family. My mother likes to say I could ride before I was born, since she rode in competition while pregnant with me!
By the time I got to my 20s, I was renting a house in Langley with stables converted from a cattle-milking facility. But I got tired of freezing to death in Canada while trying to train for shows in the winter, and the cold just wasn’t conducive to a serious show schedule. So I packed up and came to Jaco, Costa Rica when I was 22, in 1999. I brought with me two huge
Percheron mares and a four-month-old colt.
I really took to the Costa Rican lifestyle, which was more laid-back and grounded. But then things started to get too touristy,
together with all the problems that brings, like more crime and drugs. I wanted a more wholesome environment, so I decided to check out Boquete after my parents bought a small casita in Chiriqui. I moved here and bought the BEC property in 2004, and my parents moved down full-time soon afterwards.
We chose this property based on temperature! We were driving up the hill towards Boquete, and anything just below us felt too warm, but anything further north would have been too chilly. We got to 80 degrees and we said, yes, this is it!
CL. THE PROPERTY HAS A VERY HORSEY HISTORY. CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT
JESSICA: Several generations back, this property was known as Las Trancas – the original Las Trancas because of the rock walls that enclosed a herd of wild horses. When someone needed a horse, they’d come here, pick one out and rope it, take it home, and break it out.
When we first bought the property and built our stables, people would stop and say “Oye – you’re keeping tradition alive! Horses are returning to Las Trancas!” So there’s a strong memory among the older families here of that very old tradition. That’s how we came to name the property “Pista Rancho Las Trancas.” The original railroad that came up the hill to Boquete also rolled right through this property, and we still find old pieces of rail and spikes.
Q. WHAT KINDS OF ACTIVITIES AND SERVICES DO YOU OFFER?
JESSICA: This is a passion, not a business. A big focus for us is rescues; in fact, all of our horses here are rescues. We make them available to our students who are training here, and we’re proud of our rescues that we’ve trained to a high level of proficiency and even winning at NBHA (National Barrel Horse Association) events.
Doodlebug is our oldest horse here – he was a rescue and he’s 30 now! He’s taught hundreds of children to ride. And we still have a descendent of my original Percherons that I brought down to Costa Rica — Taylor’s Royal Exchange du Paris. She’s 8 now.
We brought some of our techniques from our Langley stables here to Boquete. For instance, we’re using an upstairs gravity feeding system. We just walk along like airline stewardesses and fill the horses’ troughs with manna from heaven! It’s great because it prevents the bad habits horses get when they see the feed cart coming, like pawing or kicking.
When we first started the BEC, we were more focused on jumping and English riding. But over the years we’ve evolved to Western rodeo and barrel racing. That’s much more in character with the rural horse culture here in Chiriqui.
There’s nothing we won’t show or teach someone. We give clinics and lessons, and we’re all about hands-on learning and teaching the correct form. We do barrel racing events once a month, and everyone’s welcome to come in and see what we do.
Q. HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO GROW YOUR FACILITY?
Jessica: Horse boarding is not our focus, but we do offer boarding on a limited basis. Expanding our boarding capabilities is something we have on the back burner, but it will happen someday.
We have a limited number of students, but we have capacity to take on more. We’re also looking at adding lights for our outdoor arena, so we can hold nighttime events.
The Boquete Equestrian Centre welcomes anyone who’d like to learn more about the facility and participate in the equestrian events there. For more information, visit their web page at www.ridebec.com, or check out their Facebook page.