For Jennifer Miko, no experience compares to the peace she finds every time she rides her horses on the beach alongside the ocean.
She hears the lapping waves, smells the sea salt, and feels the ocean breeze and the rhythm of the horse as it steps through the sand. She’ll see dolphins, sharks and even the occasional whale dart through the ocean, and shorebirds scurry along the beach among the coquina rocks.
“It never gets old to me. Every time I go over the dune onto the beach and see the ocean, I just smile and think of what a phenomenal experience it is,” Miko said. “I’m blessed to be able to do it. It’s breathtaking and beautiful and therapeutic.”
Miko is the owner of Equestrian Adventures of Florida, one of the only beach horseback riding touring companies in the state. She leads groups of five (ages 10 and up) from Mala Compra Park down to the beach for a peaceful, hourlong ride on her horses along the ocean at low tide. The relaxing adventure is perfect for riders of every skill level.
Miko, 52, didn’t start riding until her mid-30s, when her friend introduced her to horseback riding. She was hooked, and began Equestrian Adventures in 2011 to introduce others to her passion.
The relaxation that horseback riding provided guided Miko through some of her life’s greatest challenges over the last decade, including a layoff and a bout with breast cancer. She owns and takes care of 19 horses, including her first steed, Lucky, a now 20-year-old equine that still occasionally goes out for rides.
Beach horseback riding has a long history in Flagler County; the U.S. military patrolled these shores on horseback during World War II on the lookout for German U-Boats. Other counties rolled back horseback riding access after the war, but Flagler County kept the tradition going. Miko prides herself on cleaning up after her horses on every tour and keeping the beach beautiful.
Customers come back time and again for another ride, Miko said. She routinely receives calls and letters from visitors far and wide, telling her what a lasting impression horseback riding along the ocean made on them.
"It's absolutely breathtaking and beautiful and it's relaxing and therapeutic,” Miko said. “That takes away everything else in life that could be bothering you and weighing on you."
Equestrian Adventures offers tours every day of the week. Visit their website to learn how to reserve a tour.
Looking to continue your adventures on horseback? The Florida Agricultural Museum offers guided trail rides through forests and around a nearby lake. And if you’re bringing your own horse to the area, consider Princess Place Preserve, which offers both trails and equestrian campsites.
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