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Giddy up! Horseback Riding in The Bahamas is a unique experience

Beaches in The Bahamas take encounters with seemingly ordinary animals and transform them into extraordinary experiences. For example, take the swimming pigs. Generally, pigs are filthy and beastly animals. But, on their very own private beach in The Bahamas, they are adorable and playful celebrity hogs. The same goes for horses, which are usually only the subject of fascination for equestrians. But on a beach in The Bahamas, they are fun and endearing tour guides that make for a unique experience. Here’s where to go horseback riding in The Bahamas.

Horseback riding in The Bahamas is one activity that secures top rankings on boating islands like Grand Bahama, Nassau, and Harbour Island. Even travelers with no riding experience can participate in organized tours. As a guide once said, you might not know what you are doing, but the horses do.

Day in and day out, guides provide safe rides to all temporary equestrians.  In fact, some of the horses are so disciplined (i.e., stubborn), they won’t even listen to your commands if you try to steer them off their course. The most thrilling part of the experience, which is not available on all tours, is riding with the horse as they swim through the water. Check out these four experiences to entertain the whole family while boating in The Bahamas.

Happy Trails Stables, Nassau

The oldest and longest running equestrian tour in The Bahamas is Happy Trails Stables in Nassau. Located in a quiet residential community on the southern side of the island, the beautifully forested Happy Trails Stables offers a leisurely horseback riding tour along a beach trail for riders with no riding experience; however, experienced riders may find this ride a little too effortless.

The company had its start in the ’70s to provide a home for rescued racehorses of the now demolished Hobby Horse Hall race track. Some of its horses have also made cameo appearances in iconic films shot in The Bahamas, adding to its storied history; their 17hh Holsteiner, Monster Max, had a cameo in James Bond’s Casino Royale. The various trails run for up to two hours and cut through Coral Harbour and Adelaide, running alongside a natural lake and down to the beach.

BB’s Horseback Riding, Harbour Island

Pink Sands Beach is the main attraction that draws thousands of travelers to the shores of Harbour Island. The standard way to explore the beach is to sink your bare toes into the sand during a stroll. Or, saunter down the beach to the sea. But there is another barefoot way to travel the beach and to tour the island for that matter: swimsuit-clad and on horseback. Horseback riding on Harbour Island is a casual and fun way to introduce yourself to the island, and BB’s is the only way to experience it. They can accommodate groups of four, with children over seven years old on horseback. Younger children are walked on the horses. Adding the swim component to the tour is optional.

Pinetree Stables, Freeport, Grand Bahama

This is not your typical horseback riding tour for the mega tourism market. The operators of Pinetree Stables are professional horse trainers. They take their craft seriously and design the eco-experience for nature and animal lovers who love to learn and appreciate outdoor adventure. Riders on this tour need to be in shape. The stables are located on a private residence that doubles as a cat rescue center. Those with cat allergies should take proper precautions. The two-hour ride on former Canadian champion horses goes through five of the island’s six ecosystems, including coppice, pine forest, dunes, and the beach. Although the tour includes the beach, this horseback riding experience is not marketed as a beach ride. It is an interactive, engaging, and educational ecotour.

O’l Freetown Farm, Freeport, Grand Bahama

This tour is the anomaly in the group. The horseback riding experience is limited to a pony ride. However, the horses on the farm are showcase animals. The are other animals like the Abaco wild hog. It is still worth a mention since the Ol’ Freetown Farm has other virtues that make it a well-rounded family activity for a day off the water; combine the farm experience with a visit to the nearby Airplane Beach and Owl’s Hole.

This small working farm services the local community, so you are likely to meet island residents. Sample fresh seasonal fruits and other produce, including fresh coconut water, ripe bananas, freshly squeezed cane juice and other tropical delights. Located about 30 minutes outside of Port Lucaya, Ol’ Freetown will deliver a package of fresh fruits and vegetables to stock up your boat. Or, you can purchase them yourself at the Saturday Farmer’s Market at Garden of the Groves. The farm also sells eggs. A few of the goats are raised for meat.

By Noelle Nicolls, Southern Boating September 2018

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