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St. Lucia There & Back Part 5: Going by Horse
By the fifth day of my St. Lucia adventure I was ready to do something different and try new things. I'd been debating between taking a bike tour and seeing a small portion of the island on horseback. It had been centuries since I'd been on a horse so without even tossing a coin I opted for the two hour horseback riding excursion offered by Trim's Riding Stables just up the road from my hotel. When I phoned the night before to find out tour times and cost I was informed of a group heading out around 10 AM and it would be better to join them since the 8:30 AM slot was kind of light in terms of participants. The two hour trot around the Atlantic side of the island in an area known as Cas en Bas would only cost $50 and since that was a pretty decent deal I kindly requested that they pencil me in for 10 AM.
At a quarter to ten o'clock the day of the event I was picked up by a blue and white van with the words 'Bon Ami' in the front and Trim's Riding Stables in the back. Already tucked into the van were two couples and two vacationing friends who were all just as ready as I was see to see which horse we would be paired with for our adventure. But before we reached the stables our driver shouted out a few key things to remember before hoping onto the saddle. Bags would have to be left behind so that we did not injure or bother the horse. We would have to sign waivers before taking off, get fitted for helmets and distinguish who was an experienced rider and who wasn't. When we reached the stables all of this didn't take too much time, but there was still a few small pointers to go over. Instructions were as follows: heels should be pointed down and toes up, hold the rein close and down not up, but let it give a little, and to turn the horse pull the rein downward in the direction you want it to go. With all this to keep in mind it was finally time to be paired with our new pals for the trip.
My horse was named "Spunky" and he was a beauty.
Spunky was the leader of the pack. He had to be the one in front of all the horses which was kind of cool and frightening at the same time. I didn't know whether it meant Spunky couldn't handle other horses swooshing their tails in his face or what, but I just told myself I would give him "Good Spunky" praise every step of the way just in case Spunky liked that sort of thing.
I'll be honest - I was a little shaky heading off down the trail. It had seriously been some years between now and the time I had last been on a horse, but things were going well so far. I felt myself slipping into the nature surroundings and not focusing on the horse as much. I figured he knew the trails better than I did and so I should let him do his thing. One of the staff member's was right behind me and the rest of the riders were tailing behind him. We went down small winding dirt paths through a woodsy peaceful area until we made it to the opening on the beach. The beach was bare with the exception of a couple of tourists who had discovered it was much quieter than some of the nearby beaches. We took our horses to the top of a hill where everyone got their photo taken with a nice landscape in the background - mainly water, but some hillside as well. At this point it was time to take a break.
For some of the horses that meant getting tied to a tree to hang loose in the shade while three lucky horses got to take the riders out into the water to bathe or swim. Spunky was one of the ones who got tied to a tree.
Cas en Bas beach area isn't as nice as the Rodney Bay area for one main reason. When you take horses out on the beach or anywhere for that matter they seem to let go of their bodily fluids whenever and wherever they wish. They take no exceptions to dumping on the beach so be careful if you're walking around the place or you may be picking up more than a seashell or two. Still it was a pretty decent beach.
Swimming time with the horses means taking off the saddle and heading into the Atlantic Ocean bareback. It also means showing a little skin (should you choose to) by wearing your trunks and bathing suits like you would without a horse. Naturally, I was just a tiny bit concerned about being half-nakie on a horse. I prayed there would be no critters waiting to nibble on my body while having a hee-haw time in the water. For the ride into the ocean I was tossed up onto Zeus. He too, was a beautiful animal.
Off into the water we went to meet up with the rest of the riders and horses already splashing around. My heart was thumping all around. I gave Zeus some "Good Zeus" praise and a "pretty please, don't throw me off into this water." Sadly, I'm not a strong swimmer. We kept making our way until we finally reached the others.
Jason, one of the Trim's guides leading this tour was out with his horse, Bob. When I got close enough he took the reins of my horse and told me that if I started to slip I should just grab the mane real tight to hold on. It hurt me to grab the mane. I thought it would hurt Zeus, but when I found myself starting to slip sure enough I started holding tight to the mane. Jason made Bob go faster so that Zeus would go faster and we were running through the ocean. By this point I'm laughing so much my stomach is starting to hurt, but I was having a good time. The water felt so cool and nice and though I knew bouncing around on a horse would later leave me with a sore bum I didn't want the experience to end and at the same time I did. I'd say we spent at least ten minutes out there bathing if not more.
Once we were all dried off and well rested from the time in the water we jumped back onto our original horses and headed back up to the stables. I almost made it there without getting thrown off of Spunky, but something scared the horse and off I went flying into the air. It must have been a pretty scary sight for everyone watching and my right shoe flew off in the process, but seeing how much more concerned I was about my camera I think it broke the impact of my fall. Before doing anything else when I stood up, I clicked the power button to make sure my Rebel was still alive and thankfully it was. Then I looked at everyone to give them a smile to assure them I was okay. The ride was basically over by this point.
Back at the stables I thanked everyone for such an awesome experience and nabbed a quick photo with Trim's staff member, Jason. Then it was off and way back into the island by vehicle.
Trim's Riding Stables is located in Cas en Bas, Gros Islet, St. Lucia. They can be reached by phone at 758.450.8273.
Filed under: St. Lucia