On one of the first extensive trips SVV and I took together—through and around the bite-sized country of Denmark in 2006—we had an unfortunate experience with horseback riding. I should start by telling you that I’ve done a fair amount of riding in more recent years. Growing up, my time on a horse was pretty minimal (though I did go to riding camp a summer or two), but when I got to college, I worked in Arizona on a horse ranch during my summer breaks, riding anywhere from three to six hours a day. My point: I may not be an expert, but I do know how to handle a horse.
So when we arrived at a horse farm near Blockhus, Denmark, the lady saddled up our equine, Flicka and Flora, and sent us on our merry little ways. Alone. We followed the trail to the beach and promptly were bucked off—first me, and then SVV followed in what I thought to be a move of sympathy—the closer we tried to nudge the horses toward the sand. It was my first and only time getting thrown from the horse, and I could have killed that smug horse owner who didn’t tell us until after that the horses hate the beach and will always rebel when taken near it. Which was just awesome given that we paid money to go on a beach horseback ride.
Luckily, this time was not at all like that.
When we got to Turtle Bay, we had a bit of time to unpack and roam the grounds before walking out to the stables. We were booked on a sunset ride along the coastline where Turtle Bay is located. We arrived early, and our paniolo was nowhere to be found, so we explored the pastures and made friends with the locals.
This mare, in particular, loved her some SVV.
Our leader finally arrived with our saddled horses and had us step onto a platform to mount. Psst. I would have rather done it the real way, but it wasn’t allowed (for safety reasons, I imagine).
I was riding Feather, and SVV was on some horse whose name escapes me but who, for the sake of this post, I will reference as Pokey, as he was just that. Observe him far behind the pack, just moments after we left the barn:
Pokey was one hungry fella. As much as he tried to keep a firm hand, SVV just couldn’t keep Pokey out of the foliage. He sauntered along with an ever-present branch full of leaves dangling from his mouth.
We rode leisurely for awhile on the dirt path then detoured into the woods, passing some famous sites along the way.
Bonus points for those who can tell me what movie or TV show was filmed in this very spot and, furthermore, what scene(s).
I couldn’t even share the revelation with SVV as, once again, he was lagging way behind, out of earshot.
I will say this: If you’re vacationing at Turtle Bay and have been on a horse before, you might want to consider booking an advanced (or private) ride instead. I didn’t know there was an option, and I think with our experience on horses we would have been better suited for a group with a little bit of riding experience. (The others on our ride, a family of four from Albany, had never even been on a horse before! City folk.) Plus, in the beginner group, you’re only allowed to walk; no trotting, no cantering. But it was still a fun, relaxed experience nonetheless and a great first taste of the Oahu landscape.
As the sun began to sink down behind the trees—and SVV started swatting skeeters far behind the pack; they love him, the mozzies—we veered toward the beach and plodded back to the resort along the sand. Finally, five years later, I was getting my beach ride.
Pokey even decided to catch up to the group for the occasion.
Have you ever been on a beach horseback ride? What did you think?
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I rode hoses as a kid. Sometimes competitively, but that was in the midwest, so I’ve never been riding on a beach.
Also, LOST! And the scenes when smokey, and a polar bear, are after our beloved Losties and they have to hide inside those crazy trees. Right!?
Fellow LOST geeks! Love it. You’re spot on =) You’ll also be pleased to know we tracked down the address of Hurley’s house in Honolulu (after he wins the lottery) and did a “drive-by shooting” as I just HAD to have a picture!
I’m looking forward to the day you post THAT on the blog! 🙂
Next week…next week, my friend!
I grew up riding horses, and used to compete in show jumping before I went off to college, so if there’s an opportunity to ride on a trip, I’m in! I’ve ridden in Hawaii (Big Island), Honduras, Costa Rica, Argentina, South Africa and Iceland. If you’re comfortable on a horse, I always recommend either a private ride or one where they expressly say that they will separate you according to experience.
The best rides of my life have been in Iceland (gotta love those adorable Icelandic horses and their special gait, the tolt), Honduras (the owner of the coffee plantation let me ride his personal horse; he was so well trained – and fast!), and Argentina (again the horses were so well trained and responsive and the guides gave us free rein to go off on our own). Of course, sometimes a slow, easy ride is really nice too, especially when you have beautiful scenery.
One day I really want to ride as part of a cattle drive/round up or do a multi-day ride across a country like Scotland or Mongolia.
Katie, I’ve always wanted to hop on one of those cute, stout Icelandic ponies. They’re just the cutest! What I also don’t like about the slow beginner trail rides is that you always get the old, slow horses who will do nothing but follow the ringleader!
The Fjord Horse? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fjord_horse)
LOVE. I’ve ridden those in Norway. Really fun!
I rode an Icelandic pony in Spitsbergen, Norway. So cute! The riding is a little different because the ponies are barrel shaped and your legs hang differently but otherwise it’s the same. I was the only one on the ride aside from the guide so we had a good time cantering and what not.
I also grew up riding horses and rode competitively until college. I really miss it so now I use vacation as an excuse to splurge on rides. I have had great experiences with more advanced rides in New Zealand and Costa Rica, but if I’m going with an inexperienced friend I don’t mind keeping it to a walk. I went on the beach once near home on a lesson pony who hated the sand, and tried desperately to dislodge me, but I managed to stay on long enough to get off the beach.
I finally had a successful beach ride a couple years later on Hatteras Island in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The place my mom and I went allowed you to ride at the pace you wanted on the beach. Our horses came with the warning that they would run on the beach and couldn’t really be controlled. So we galloped, and it was amazing! I would love to do that again.
I always look longingly at those multi-day horse vacation sites… someday I want to ride across Ireland or somewhere else.
That’s a fun way to travel–going places with cool rides or trails! That’s how Scott and I approach our diving habit: Where can we travel to next that has amazing underwater landscape?!
Hmm… Pokey sounds like the horse I was stuck with during our ride to Paricutin. While the wooden saddles were painful, I rather enjoy riding on horses.
Love to hear about new places like this. We film riding horses all over the world for our Equitrekking TV show, including big island and maui, but not yet Oahu. Adding it to our list now. ; ) Here’s our most extreme horse rides, including Haleakala on Maui. http://eqkk.us/qi
Last June I traveled to Europe for the first time but first had a stop in London and then Wales. While I was in Wales I did the week long “Trans Wales Trail” ride. It was the hardest thing I’d ever done but a really great experience. (http://www.transwales.demon.co.uk/) At the end of the week we ended up at the beach and had an awesome gallop. It was SO FUN. You can see it here at six min 25 sec: http://www.youtube.com/briel79#p/u/5/RzdHdvJ4PGo We only got to ride down the beach and then back but I could have done it ten more times if they’d let us.
I recognize that area from LOST! Very cool. 🙂
That sounds so fun! I haven’t galloped in about a decade and every time I’m up on a horse (and made to walk, blah), I so crave a really good run!
I’m not a great rider due to an early deeply traumatic horse experience. A boyfriend who was an experienced rider took me bare back riding, me in back of him on the same horse. Little did I know that those dang horses are sooooo slippery. Trying to lock on with my 15 year old, unused to riding thighs, was not happening. So, with every gallop, I slid a little more to the right. Unfortunately for my friend, I had a death grip on his belt. I can still remember him screaming…..”let go!!!!” as we hit the ground together. Funny, he didn’t take me riding again.
That sounds like fun but am with you for a little more exciting ride. Leave Pokey behind. I owned horses long ago but was nowhere near a beach and haven’t done that, yet.
Keep me posted on your August AZ plans. I’ll be working at the North Rim.
Someday it would be great fun to go horseback riding with you and Katie Hammel – in Iceland, of course. Until then, perhaps we’ll go riding in Sonoma County this summer?
Love the video with SW’s new girlfriend.
I didn’t know you worked on a ranch during college! Lady, you are just full of adventures 🙂 My parents and I took a few trips to a ranch in Montana when I was a kid, and I loved, loved, loved it — mainly for the horseback riding opportunities. I looooved to ride through the mountains but have never had a chance to ride on a beach. I guarantee you if I go to Turtle Bay ever, I will do one of these rides.
Horses are beautiful… but scary! In high school some friends and I were riding (at dusk, bareback… stupid in hindsight) and I got thrown and then promptly trampled on when the horse bolted over my body. Got a broken rib and some nasty scars from that one. Oiy. I haven’t ridden a horse since, but there’s still a part of me that wants to try the “romantic horse-ride on the beach at sunset” thing. Maybe someday. 🙂
Um, that is TERRIFYING. If I were you, I wouldn’t even be able to look at a horse–let alone contemplate going a sunset beach ride!
Ah SVV I feel your pain, last time I went riding was during a week’s riding holiday in Devon, and I was assigned the Pokey of my group too I’m a pretty good rider but I could not seem to motivate her at all. In all of the photos, I’m either too far behind the rest of the group to be seen, or yanking my horse’s head out of the hedgerow to stop the damn thing eating!
Next time I’m definitely signing up for a private ride too!
Also, the scenery on your ride is absolutely beautiful, and so many contrasts! I’m glad you finally got your beach ride, they’re the best!
That’s the thing, isn’t it–no matter how good a rider you are if you get the Pokey trail horse, you haven’t a chance!
Got a beach horseback riding gift for Jack on his birthday once in Half Moon Bay. Our horses loved to run on the beach. We on the other hand, never having been on a horse before, was being bounced up and down and sideways and ended up hurting in the nether region for days. We couldn’t seem to make them stop.
Still it was fun while it lasted 🙂
Ah I’m so jealous! I’ve always wanted to run like the wind on the beach; unfortunately, so far I’ve only gotten to plod along!
(No matter how much I have ridden in my life–bicycle OR horse–my nether regions *always* hurt the next day…even when walking on the horse, though I think the bouncy rhythm of a trot is the worst!)
Those photos of SVV way in the back crack me up! At least it looks like he’s a good sport about it w/a smile on his face. If it were me, I’d probably be flippin’ the bird to the camera. Ha!
You are so right. He IS a good sport. I should give him more credit for that, as no doubt I’d be back there with you flipping birds and muttering(/yelling) four-letter words! SVV, on the other hand, is far more laid back and mild-mannered than I am! Thank God. One of us needs to be sane.
That last picture looks like a still from one of those “Look at your man” Old Spice commercials.
(You’re welcome, SVV.)
HA! I should check and see if he can do a British accent, too. (Something tells me no. We’re still working on his Southern drawl.)
Went on one along the coast of South Africa somewhere (my mind can’t remember exactly where!) – CRAZY beach ride! We were put on the horse and sent on our merry ways. The horses went up to at least 20 mph…they were insane. I thought I was going to die! 🙂
Which Albany was the family from — New York? Cause I am too!
As for riding, I’m planning to go riding on the Big Island, where there is appearantly a big cowboy culture (who would have thought?!) By the way, that last photo of SVV is great!