MY DREAM CAME TRUE!
Reviews of bucket-list-worthy things to do all over the world

Horseback riding on a beach!

It had been on my bucket list for years. I wanted to go horseback riding on a beach. The way I imagined it, two horses would gallop along a deserted beach. I would be riding one horse and the other would carry a handsome man. It was very romantic. I knew the experience wouldn’t be anything like that when I booked a “Horseback Riding by Land and Sea” excursion during a Caribbean cruise with my mom and little brother, but I booked it anyway.

When our cruise ship, Holland America’s ms Westerdam, arrived at Half Moon Cay, and I caught my first glimpse of the island, I was excited. The light sand and crystal clear, baby blue, Caribbean water looked like the perfect backdrop for our horseback ride.

We rode a tender to the island, checked in for our excursion, and boarded an open air tram that took us to the ranch. Soon, we were standing outside a corral admiring the horses that would take us on our adventure. The horses looked healthy and well taken care of. That was very important to me.

I climbed up onto the saddle of a horse. The guides led the horses onto a soft, sandy trail that lead to a lookout. The walk was nice and gave me a chance to get comfortable on a horse before the main event.

We emerged on the beach. The stretch of beach was nearly deserted, just like in my dreams, but, rather than gallop, we ambled, caravan style, along the sand. In retrospect, considering that this was only my third time on horseback, even though we were wearing helmets, galloping down the beach might not have been such a good idea.

We returned to the ranch and dismounted. It was now time for the second part of our excursion. We were going to ride the horses into the water, then the guides would lead the horses into a run. This part wasn’t technically on my bucket list, but I thought it sounded like fun.

The guides removed our horses’ saddles and placed waterproof cushions on the horses’ backs. I mounted my horse and took hold of the ropes. With the saddle gone, I noticed that there was nowhere to put my feet. The guide told me to grip the sides of the horse with my legs. I wondered aloud whether people fall off into the water when the horses run. “Sometimes,” he told me.

I was having second thoughts about the whole thing when the guide led the horses into the water. The beautiful blue water washed over my calves. Then, at the guide’s command, the horses started to run. The water raced over my thighs. I could feel the current trying to free me from my horse. I gently pressed my legs against the horse’s sides and hoped for the best. When we finally stopped, I was still on my horse!

The guide turned us around and cued the horses to run again. The water rushed over my legs as my horse raced along. This time, I relaxed and enjoyed the exciting ride. Aside from the fact that we were in the water rather than next to it, this was very much how I had dreamt my horseback ride on a beach would be. Suddenly, my little brother galloped up next to me. Even though it was his first horseback ride ever, he was racing through the water expertly and having a blast.

When the ride was over, the horses walked back to the beach. My brother and I talked from horseback about how much fun we’d had. Sometimes, I thought, dreams don’t turn out exactly how you dreamt them, but they can still be magical!

I did this in 2009 at Half Moon Cay (on Little San Salvador Island), Bahamas.

Dr. Jen (California, USA)