Horseback Riding on the Beach
The newly paved Long Bay Highway leads up into the Long Bay Hills, home of Provo Ponies, which offers horseback rides on the beach for novices and seasoned riders alike. The Provo Ponies stables comprise a real menagerie, with friendly dogs roaming, roosters crowing, and 18 horses -- technically big ponies -- available to ride.
On our afternoon ride, we were assigned horses according to skill levels. I'm a less-experienced rider, so I was given a handsome but slightly lumbering animal. Let's just say this old gentleman's days as a Triple Crown threat are behind him. But even my gallant steed picked up the pace when we hit the beach; the horses love the gentle sand, the cool breezes, and the open spaces. As do the riders: It's a relaxing, soul-satisfying experience.
Camille Slattery, the energetic owner of Provo Ponies, came to the Turks and Caicos 19 years ago to teach scuba diving and never left. Her stable grew along with her love of horses; she opened to the public in 2002. Many of her horses are Grand Turk horses, which Camille calls "bomb-proof: so easy and so intelligent." A couple she even refers to as "babysitters" -- they literally take care of the people riding them. These horses can take the heat because they're born and bred here; still, the stable doesn't schedule any midday rides, for the benefit of both horse and rider. Provo Ponies offers two rides a day along the secluded, untrammeled Long Bay beach, in morning and late afternoon. Rides last an hour or 80 minutes, and helmets, fanny packs, and water are provided. They take beginners or experts -- and only allow cantering if the rider shows he or she is experienced. They also offer private swimming rides. What is it about riding a horse on a tropical beach? As Camille says, "It's everybody's fantasy." For more information, call tel. 649/241-6350 or 649/946-5252 or go to www.provoponies.com (Long Bay Hills, off Dolphin Lane; 1-hr. ride $75; 90-min. ride $90; hotel pickup/drop-off included; rides Mon-Sat 9:30am and 4:30pm; 11 riders maximum per trip; maximum 200-lb. weight limit; children 5 and under must have previous riding experience).