Life Through the Ears of a Horse
Silver, Pie, Scout, Black Beauty, and Secretariat are names that stir the imagination of young and old, alike. Whether a child is curled up and jumping rails while astride a magnificent steed, or an adult is crouched at the edge of their seat while cheering Big Red on to victory in the Triple Crown, horses have inspired many to dawn a Stetson, slip on a pair of boots, grab the reins, and ride like the wind.
My love for horses, and horseback riding, began as a child. My mother would plan trips to a local ranch and there among the stalls, filled with hay and buckets of oats, the marvelous wonders of horses and horseback riding were on full display for the enjoyment of a fascinated six year old. Throughout my teen years I had many opportunities to care for horses, photograph horses, draw horses and enthusiastically ride horses. Cinching a saddle, slipping boots into stirrups, sitting tall in the saddle, enjoying a simple saunter, or engaging a full gallop are all a part of trail riding. Since the month of May begins the race for the Triple Crown, I thought a return to one of my favorite activities would inspire others to take a breath and enjoy life through the ears of a horse.
The Florida Agricultural Museum provides guided horseback trail riding. Fortunately, a good friend of mine is one of the trail guides. What better way to spend the morning than atop a horse trotting down a sandy trail while spending time with a friend! As my appointment time drew near, my excitement and anticipation level began to build so that by the morning of my ride I could not wait to get back in the saddle.
The beautiful spring morning set the stage for a trail ride that was long overdue. A cool crispness in the air only added to the anticipation level I had been experiencing for more than a week. As I arrived, I found my friend busily bandaging one of the horses. Watching her tenderness with this horse took me back to my own time when caring for horses was an integral part of my youth. Much to my surprise and delight, a group of school children were visiting the Florida Agricultural Museum this morning. Their guide brought them to the corral so they could see the horses. I watched them as they climbed over one another to scale the rail fencing just to see, touch, and talk to the horses. I could see the same embers of imagination being fueled with each and every gentle caress. They asked questions. They listened intently and with each step the horse took, they followed up and down the fence line just to have one last chance to pet this magnificent animal.
The horse barn at the museum is home to an array of awesome equestrian mounts. One of the residents, Supressa, is a Florida Cracker horse, the State horse for Florida. A Cracker Horse is a direct descendent of those noble steeds that crossed the Atlantic Ocean and landed here with Ponce de Leon. While experience is not required in order to enjoy a trail ride, the age requirement is 8 and above. Equestrian helmets are provided and just in case you are a bit apprehensive about getting into the saddle, not to worry, step stools make mounting a cinch! Once aboard the adventure begins.
My friend and I left the barn area and set out for an hour along the trail. Two other riders joined us for part of the journey; they would later leave us for a longer trek. Our horses, Uno and Ranger, seemed quite happy to have the chance to leave their stalls, stretch their legs, and enjoy a simple stroll along the many riding trails. A unique feature found while riding is the land bridge that spans the width of Interstate 95. It is one of only two in the nation and it’s a great place to stop, watch all the traffic, wonder where folks are headed in such a hurry and have a bit of fun. We halted our horses and motioned for truck drivers to blow their horns. Several sounding horns rose above the noise of 95’s traffic and brought smiles to our faces. The rest of the ride would bring similar moments of shared grins and laughter.
The hour flew by and soon we were back at the barn. Our horses had earned a well-deserved cool drink of water and fresh oats. I walked around the corral area and reflected for just a moment. While the path may look like a simple dusty trail, for many it is a passageway to serenity and a way to connect to a more simple time. You get to set the pace. Some will simply wish to walk the trails and take in the scenic beauty surrounding the Florida Agricultural Museum and Pellicer Creek. A stroll by a peaceful lake, a visit to an outside sanctuary, a stop by a restored homestead, and a promenade across one of only two land bridges in the country, are just a few of the sites you will enjoy. For those wishing to experience exhilaration, the wind racing across your face and through your hair, kick it up a notch and get to galloping! From the moment you engage your steed, the heart races, the body becomes one with the horse’s movements, and life through the ears of a horse becomes a rush you will always remember.
For Planning Purposes:
Destination: Florida Agricultural Museum
Location: 7900 Old Kings Road, Palm Coast, Florida
Just East of the intersection of Hwy. U.S. 1 and Old Kings Road
Trail Rides: $50.00 per hour, per person, with a minimum of two people
Release Forms: Guided Horseback Riding Forms
& Contact: Contact Information
Website: Florida Agricultural Museum