Before we'd left for the Bahamas, I'd convinced John to go horseback riding with me. It's been something on my bucket list since I was a little girl, and riding on the gorgeous beaches of Nassau is the best way to do it.
He agreed and I booked us the excursion. Surprisingly, this ended up being one of John's favorite parts of our trip. Definitely mine, too!
Anyway, we ended up getting a private ride. The other two riders who were supposed to come with us ended up turning back. We had the guide to ourselves, and since we were riding int he early morning, we had the beaches to ourselves, too. It was amazing!
I hopped on and rode around like a pro. The trainer asked if I had any riding experience. I said that I had not, and he clucked his tongue in approval. He said I should look into getting a horse "at home" to practice my posture on since I shouldn't let equestrian talent go to waste.
Maybe he says that to all the ladies. I don't know. I beamed with pride regardless, because I feel like I've imagined myself doing it for so long, it really WAS natural to me getting into that saddle!
The guide gave us a few brief instructions and we were on our way. I was last in line, so most of my photos look like this:
The trail to get to the beach was beautiful. We took this narrow, worn path through blooming foliage. There were berries and fruits you could pick right off the trees and bushes. Our guide would point things out while John's horse, Buggs, stopped to chomp on some grass.
As we made our way through the trail, we trotted across a miltary complex where Bahemian marines were training. We saw them running down the street with their gear on their backs. I was surprised to see that! I just barely snagged this photo as we made our way across the complex.
When we rounded the corner and began to see beach, I was almost sad to leave the trail through the forest because it was so nice. John voiced the same thing, but we were still excited to ride along the waves.
We passed by fishermen as they prepared their lobster cages for the day. They all waved and greeted us as we passed. Again, all of the people we came across in Nassau were incredibly gracious and welcoming - even the busy fishermen who took a moment to stop and wave to us as we trotted by.
All the while, our wonderful guide, Wayne, entertained us with stories of previous riders he took out. Since his was the only ranch in the Bahamas, they got a lot of traffic from celebrities who vacationed there. It was fun to hear some of the stories he shared!
Soon, though, we were at the beach. The weather was PERFECT and we had a clear view of a few tiny islands dotting the horizon. It was magnificent.
Wayne was nice enough to steal my camera and take a few shots for John and I which was great.
I took my chance, here, to scoot off for a bit and "test drive" Sunny, my horse, without the guide. While he was busy taking shots of John, I trotted Sunny away from the group. I then led her back and actually had her completely encircle John and Buggs. Wayne laughed and told John, "Yeah, you see? You're lady's got control over her horse. She's a real rider!"
Again, I beamed with pride! I felt comfortable and confident in the saddle. They obviously trained these horses really well, but I was still proud of myself for controlling her when I could feel her trying to go off her own way.
Finally, we had to go back. Again, I was in the back. I still had one more thing I wanted to do since it was unlikely I'd ever get the chance again. I wanted to run her. At least get a small gallop going.
So since I was in the back, I sort of pulled back the reigns to slow her down. I allowed a fairly good stretch of distance to pile up between John and myself. John was directly behind the guide, so Wayne didn't realize I was falling back that way. John was so focused on Wayne's story that he didn't notice, either. When I felt like I'd given myself a good distance, I gave Sunny a quick "Giddy-up" heel and boom - we took off galloping towards the boys.
It. Was. AWESOME.
My butt hurt like a sonofagun, but it was TOTALLY WORTH IT. :)
Wayne just looked back to make sure I was there, and I was. No one noticed a thing. Well, maybe John did, but he didn't rat me out. It was so much fun!
We finally rode our way back to the stables. We took the same trail back and hit the streets for the rest of the way.
It was such an unforgettable experience. I highly recommend this place for anyone planning a trip to Nassau. The stables are called "Happy Trails Stables" and is run by a wonderful woman named Sue. Wayne is her adopted son (REALLY!). They have such a sweet relationship. A man named Duke also works there and is phenomenal with the horses. They just know so much and really love their animals. It's great.
So to top off the trip, we tipped Wayne and asked him to take a photo with us. Here was our last impression of this wonderful, incredible experience:
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