I haven't been horseback riding in over ten years, and who knows how many years before that. I didn't even really have the urge to go horseback riding on this vacation. In 1999, I did a 4 hour afternoon tour on horseback in Costa Rica and could barely walk afterward. Even in my early 20s, 4 hours on a horse was too long when you never ride horses. Fast forward to April 2022.
We saw horses swimming with riders between Anna Maria Island and Bradenton, Florida. I don't just mean walking on the water's edge; I mean IN THE WATER. I knew that horses swim, but I did not know this was even an option.
I looked up beach horse tours and found a few companies. My Mom, daughter, and I quickly signed up. We arrived early for our appointment and got checked in. You get to feed your horse as a quick introduction. Then you're on and in the water. (There was a safety discussion before getting on the horse).
I didn't know what to expect. I like horses, and I love the ocean. My horse had a crush on the male guide horse. Most of the time, I didn't have to really work to get her to follow the guide or follow their "process." She knew what to do and when to do it. I loved when the horse swam. They like the water and enjoy swimming. My horse liked sticking her tongue in the water periodically. Other horses wanted to blow bubbles in the water. It was funny and unexpected.
It was unusual to ride a horse while they swam. You are in the water up to your chest and can't use the reigns. You have to hold on to their hair for balance which sounds rough. We learned that they aren't sensitive, and it doesn't hurt them.
The horses on our tour were all rescues. The fees and merchandise contribute to their daily/weekly exercise, care, and future rescues. The horses were either rescued from neglect/abuse or just before slaughter. It is deplorable.
On our last turn back to the shoreline, my horse wanted to turn in another direction. That was the only point at which I thought I would fall off. The rest of the time, it was pretty easy to stay on. CPonies have an age requirement that children need to be ten or older. I would suggest they be a strong 10. You have to use your thighs to hold onto the horse while they swim, and it requires a bit of balance. Sign up early online as spaces fill up quickly. They only take online reservations. (https://cponies.com/)
The tour was thoroughly enjoyable. We were thrilled that we had that experience. Next time I ride a horse, I'll probably prefer to swim.
*Note: I do not have a paid sponsorship or business relationship with CPonies. I am simply sharing my experience.