Just went on a swim ride with Pampered Ponies and had the BEST time. My group of friends was 50/50... read more
Just went on a swim ride with Pampered Ponies and had the BEST time. My group of friends was 50/50... read more
We booked the beach ride not really knowing what to expect, but in the end we’re blown away with... read more
Nov. 18, 2008 Carnival Cruise
I found Pampered Ponies on the internet and had emailed several times with the owner. When arriving on Grand Cayman, we were picked up and driven by Tony to pick up other guests and then on to the stable. My friend and I are experienced equestrians, so we were given our horses without further instruction. Other riders were already mounted and we set off. Our group was about 12 in number, so we had one rider from the stable in the front, and Tony in the back-who rode back and forth constantly to check on our well-being, and to snap pictures if we asked. He also pointed out local points of interest and named the National Park we were riding in. When we were to canter, the lead rider from the stable went ahead for a distance, and Tony led his horse to stand in front of the remaining line of horses to ensure that none of the other horses joined the one in front, i.e. each person, when asked if they wanted to canter, could say yes or no, and then was given the space to individually do so with a P.P. employee up ahead to make sure the horses stopped where they were supposed to. It was a carefully orchestrated exercise, and all went well with everyone. Two guides on horseback were with us at all time. My horse was the last to canter. Even though I am quite used to horses and a fairly large person, my horse was fighting me to take off on the final canter to reach his home ! Tony saw the way my horse was 'cutting up' and rode over to stand in front of my horse, reached over and took one of my horses' reins in his hand (so that he wasn't going anywhere), and commanded the horse by name to stop the behavior. He did so, enough for me to collect him and canter the final stretch home. It was a wonderful experience for me, and I heard no complaints from the other riders. I believe that safety issues on this ride have been thoughtfully and carefully addressed. Additionally, we were given the discounted rate - even though I had forgotten our coupon ! John and Tony were our very courteous, knowledgeable, and attentive guides. The only suggestion I would have for this company is to have them insist that riders wear helmets - it was an option on my ride. I would absolutely go again !! Check out the photos !
My family was traveling on the Carnival Triumph. The only experience my daughter wanted on this trip was to ride on the beach. We chose Grand Cayman because it was the only port of call that didn’t have other excursions we wanted to do as a family. I was surprised to see that the ship didn’t offer a horseback riding experiences here, so I checked with my travel agent who checked with the Chamber of Commerce for recommendations. One of the recommendations was for an organization called “Pampered Ponies.” We chose them because they appeared to be the most professional in responding to us. They were also chosen as “Best of Grand Cayman” for horseback riding in 2007.
This was our experience:
When we arrived we were given an “orientation” that consisted of how to direct the horse (“right, left, stop”). There was no other information given. After we mounted the horses there was no effort made to adjust stirrups. Most of the stirrups were too long, which was probably okay if the only thing we were doing was walking.
As the trip progressed the line was led by a young women (who was on the trip, not an employee) of about 16. She was an experienced rider. The trail boss was not with us and I assume that he was at the end of the line. There were two other people on the ride (I’m not sure what their title was, I’ll call them wranglers). The wranglers were near the front of the line, but not leading it.
At some point, early in the ride, the young woman at the head of the line started trotting, cantering, and then galloping. Since the lead horse did it, the rest of the horses followed. At first, it seemed like great fun, as no one told us that this could become dangerous. The group slowed down and then started up again. This time it became a little more intense. I realized pretty quickly that I couldn’t control my horse. I have ridden before and understood what to do to pull up a horse, but nothing I did could stop my hose at this point. I looked at my daughter and saw that her horse was also in the “herd mentality” and was faster than the rest, so he pulled out of the line and surged ahead. At this point, she was also unable to control her horse. My daughter has had several years of lessons and understands horses, but even she was unable to control this horse.
My daughter’s horse veered off into a path that they probably normally took and the young lady who was in the lead of the rest of us stopped, unsure whether she should follow. Thankfully, my horse was now able to be controlled, because he was no longer racing and I could pull him up. Another rider on the trip stopped behind me and commented on how she, also, couldn’t get her horse to stop. At this point the trail boss rode up and started yelling at us about how dangerous our riding had been. We tried to explain that we had lost control of the horses, but he was unwilling to listen. He sent one of the wranglers after my daughter who, wisely, chose not to chase the horse, because he realized that it would only make her horse run faster. In a short period of time her horse bucked her off and ran away.
The wrangler picked her up and brought her back to the group, where she told me that, while scraped up, she was okay. At that point he, kindly, rode her down the beach to let her calm down and have a positive experience. Had that been the end of it I would have had these complaints:
1. There was no explanation of what was safe to do on this ride
2. There was no one leading the ride who could control the experience
3. My daughter could have been killed due to clear negligence on the part of Pampered Ponies (as stated in
1 and 2)
But, this wasn’t the end of it. When they caught my daughter’s horse they put her back on it. As she and the trail boss were returning to the group he spent the entire time berating her about how this was her fault. My daughter is 14. He is a tall grown man. His entire reason for believing that she caused her horse to behave like this was because he “knew this horse who would never behave like this unless asked to do so.” He wasn’t at our part of the line and had no ability to see what had happened. He was completely unwilling to listen to her or anyone else’s explanation about what happened. His behavior was so extreme that another guest on the trip tried to talk to him about it without any result. When he brought her back to the group he asked all of us to dismount, without any clear understanding of why we were doing it.
At this point my daughter was in tears and wanted to return. I, also, felt uncomfortable with the trail boss’s ranting and decided that it would be best for both of us to return. I approached him and told him that we wanted to return and he continued to rant about how unsafe we had all been. I restated that we wanted to go back and he still didn’t address me directly, he was just too emotional (angry, upset, I don’t know). to speak to me directly. At that point I just handed him the reigns and started walking back with my daughter. There was no attempt to help us.
When I returned , I was surprised to find no one in the office. We had been assured that it was safe to leave our purses and belongings because someone would be there. I called the owner on her cell phone and asked her to return so we could discuss the incident. She refused, saying that she was in town and it wouldn’t be convenient for her to return. I tried to explain what had happened but she also stated that our experience couldn’t have happened, unless we provoked it, because “she knew her horses.”
At this point I realized that it was pointless to argue and asked for transportation back to the port. She agreed to arrange it, but said we would have to pay for it. This felt like adding insult to injury so I asked her to pay for it. She refused and said that we could wait the hour until the arranged transportation could come. When it did arrive she had returned, but made no effort to talk to us. I know she was there because the other guests who returned from our ride and were in our van had spoken to her of the experience, but she made no attempt to speak to us and we never saw her.
My problems with this part of the experience are this:
While it is understandable that the trail boss might have had the impression that the galloping and wild riding was intentional (since he was no where near it at the beginning of the line and based his impression on the little he saw ), he was completely unwilling to listen to the facts of the experience.
The trail boss was completely unable to deal appropriately with the situation in a professional manner.
There is no excuse to berate a young girl in that manner, especially one who has just been through a terrifying and potentially dangerous situation.
There was never any concern about the well-being of my daughter. To the best of my knowledge, the trail boss and owner never inquired if she was hurt. She was, not badly, but she was hurt. There was no offer of any medical attention for her obvious cuts and scrapes that occurred after she was thrown.
The owner’s unwillingness to deal with the situation, as well as her lying to us about how well-protected our belongings were, was very disappointing.
I want you to be aware of this experience for several reasons:
I don’t want anyone else to be put in a potentially life-threatening experience due to the lack of professionalism shown by this organization.
I suppose there is a personal reason to make you aware of it. We aren’t people who cruise on a regular basis. This was a once in a lifetime experience for us. To have what should have been an amazing experience treated in such an unprofessional manner really negatively colored our experience in Grand Cayman.
I read about this horseback ride in an airline magazine and thought, "I have to do this." Not only do you ride beautiful horses on a secluded beach, you swim the horses in the ocean. The first part of the ride is gently walking the horses down the beach in a maritime park area. Natural beauty, no high rise hotels. At this time, you are riding on a western saddle. Halfway through the ride, the saddles come off and you take the horses in the ocean for a swim bareback. I first thought the horses would go only a few feet in the water. No, you take them way off the beach for a full swim. The horses are full body in the water with you hanging on to the mane. What a thrill. The guides are right there if you fall off, as I did, and they help you get back to shore. If you are a horse lover and want a great experience, this is a must.