I have always wanted to go horseback riding, but never seemed to find an opportunity. Interning at RIDE TV this semester fueled that desire even more. On a recent study abroad trip to Panama, I decided to be spontaneous and finally saddled up for my first ride. Three of my travel companions and I were taken on a guided horseback tour along Las Lajas Beach at sunrise. I decided I couldn’t not share this incredible experience with RIDE Nation.
Top 10 Things I Learned From My First Horseback Ride
Getting up before the sun is worth it (sometimes). I was skeptical of the early morning, but went along with it because it would be my only opportunity to ride during the trip. Now, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way! The sunrise was beautiful and made it the perfect temperature next to the ocean waves.
Horses can be camera shy. Horses are such gorgeous animals, so my first instinct was to take a picture of the horse I was about to spend the next hour with, Condesa. She did not like this idea, and hid behind trees or put her head to the ground. We had many failed attempts at taking a group picture as well, because every time one horse would decide to walk in front of the others or move around.
Horses are great listeners. It wasn’t long before my horse and I started bonding. The group might have thought I was crazy as I had conversations with Condesa, but I know she was listening.
Be prepared for a sore butt the next day. I thought my time spent on a bike in spin classes would help me with this one, but those bumpy rides sneak up on you.
Horses have a mind of their own. Humans might think they’re the dominant species, but if my horse wanted to do something, she would. This included picking up the pace, walking (or not) with the group, or bending over. *Note: this is most likely due in part to my lack of riding experience.
Don’t be a lazy rider. The horses we rode were very well trained, which meant they were extra sensitive to their riders’ movements. It took me awhile to realize that as I looked off to the ocean to my right, I was also guiding my horse to walk right and into the waves.
Horses are social butterflies. Condesa was smart and generally liked to be with the group. She always made sure to catch up to the others if we fell behind. All of our horses fed off of each other. If one horse started to gallop, the others joined in the fun.
Hang on! The scariest moment of the ride happened when I grabbed my phone to take a picture, and my horse decided it was time to rejoin the group. She took off faster than I was prepared for and it took me a second to grab onto the saddle so I didn’t fall off. Once again, this was a rookie mistake, but definitely got my heart rate up for a minute.
Riding a horse gives you the opportunity to take awesome #BetweenTheEars photos to share with RIDE TV. Shameless plug for our marketing department, but these pictures are so cool! (See mine below).
Horseback riding is extremely calming and enjoyable. In all seriousness, my horseback ride was one of my favorite parts of my week abroad. I got to admire and explore the landscape on the back of a beautiful animal that I learned to trust and communicate with. I felt so connected to what I was doing and was able to sit back and enjoy the present moment. I’m already looking forward to my next chance to go for a ride.