Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Swim Horseback in the Caribbean - Travel Tuesday Jamaica


Today for Travel Tuesday, I am taking you on one of my most recent adventures.
A few days ago I had the awesome opportunity to visit Ocho Rios, Jamaica.  While I was there I signed up with one of the travel guide companies for a horseback adventure.

First we took a beautiful horseback ride through the backcountry of Jamaica.  I wish I had more pictures to show of this, but they did not allow me to bring my camera on the horseback ride.  (They wanted me to purchase the pictures they took.  Which I would have if they had been good, and a decent price.  However, maybe I am just cheap, so I didn't.)


However, the above picture was taken at the stable gates of where we started.  So this kind of gives you a good idea about the beautiful area.  I will say, the trails were around this area, but also near the Caribbean Sea as well, which is where we finished.
It was a beautiful fun ride, and I believe my first horseback ride since I think once or twice before when I was a child.
The horses for these are trained, and they pretty much know what to do.  Mine tried to run away and started trotting a few times, but either I was able to stop them, and once the guide rode up to pull the reigns to slow my horse "Alex" down.

For this first part, my horse did great, but at the end we had to cut through a corner of the water and my horse didn't like walking through all the sand and being up to his belly in water.  So I had to give him a few kicks to get him going to get through the water.  After that, up a short hill and my ride with Alex was over.



After we finished our backcountry ride, we took a short break, and then suited up in our swimsuits and wore a waist life jacket.  Because the next portion was my favorite.  We went BAREBACK swimming with the horses in the Caribbean Sea.  We switched horses for this.   This time, my horse didn't enjoy following as much as he enjoyed wanting to cut in front of other horses.



Basically when you do one of these, they get everyone onto the horses and lined up on the beach before you take off running in the water.
Yes, you read that right.  We take off running into the water.  It is a blast, and I will not lie, it is hard to hold on.  You are bareback, you don't have your feet secured, they are just hanging on the side.  Like you see in the above picture.  You basically hold onto the horses mane and keep your balance.  Your feet sort of bend like into a kneel when you are flying through the water as it gets deeper.


I show the above picture to show, yes you do run into the water on that horse.  Yes, it's true the water isn't crazy deep, but it isn't exactly the same depth at every step.
One minute you are only a foot or so deep, and then before you know it the horse dives down into deeper pockets, and you are floating in your waist jacket while the horse is swimming beneath you to catch his ground again.
All the while, you are (or I was) holding onto that mane, just hoping I wouldn't be the one to fall off:)  Luckily, I kept my balance and didn't fall.


Most of the time, like you see in this picture.  The lead rider is running through the water, circling jumping the different depth pockets.  Pulling the lead horse along, so that all the others are running to follow.
Basically, I think the horses love it.  But they do snort and grunt and growl a lot while they are running/swimming through the deeper sections, keeping their heads above water.
We were sort of in a bay of sorts, where we could run and play about 200 meters or more out from the short.  But just beyond that you see the reef, where the water is breaking.  Right on the other side of that is where the water drops 100's of feet or even 1000's, so obviously you don't go all the way to the reef.



My horse growled a lot, and I swear he kept trying to bite the horse in front's tail.  Then when the horse in front would slow, my horse kept wanting to go and cut in front or go out of line.  I didn't mind it, it's a lot of fun.
I have to say, I would LOVE to do this again, it was so much fun!


I also want to mention, I am NOT in any of these pictures.  You can't exactly take your own pictures while out swimming with the horses.  There is a guy that comes out and takes the shots.  But I took these of the group that went after me.  I don't exactly know any people in these pictures, but it was the best I could do to document my own experience:)  I figured, same horses, same water, same guides its the next best thing to the pictures of myself.

I didn't actually purchase the photo's of myself.  I know your thinking I probably should have, and maybe its my loss.  But I didn't, they wanted a lot of money and oh well.
If I had thought ahead, my friend and I should have gone with different groups, and then we could have each taken each other's riding photographs.
So if you ever go to do this, I highly recommend if you are in a group, separating this so you can do this and get your own pictures and save a little money.  (Of course you won't want the tour guides to know, as they really are all about their tips and making those extra dollars:)

This is so much fun, and you don't have to have any horse skills at all.  I believe there is a weight and age limit for a rider, but other than that anyone can do it.  I loved spending the morning riding on these beautiful horses on both land and sea!!  If you ever get the chance to do this, I highly recommend it.  It took about 2 hours to do it all, from start to finish.

I mentioned above we were in Ocho Rios, Jamaica.  But we did take about a 20 minute ride to get to this location from Ocho Rios, and I wish I could remember the exact name of the area we did this in, but I didn't pay close enough attention:(  


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