Before coming to us, Sun Rae was used to living in a stall in a barn, and working in an arena or a round pen.
She competed, and did barrels and poles. Then she came to us and was suddenly expected to mingle with other horses and walk down trails in the woods. It scared her.
She didn’t make friends easily, like the other horses did. Willow, our Belgian mare, terrified her initially, and she would want to keep her eye on Willow at all times. She would become agitated if Willow was out on a trail ride. When she couldn’t see Willow, Sun Rae would weave back and forth in her stall and call out until Willow came back.
We normally try to pair a new horse with a buddy, so they adjust more quickly to their new home, but Sun Rae wouldn’t buddy up to anyone. She hated the trail. We were at a loss what to do with her, so we put her up for sale, thinking that maybe if we rehomed her, someone would give her her old job back, and she’d be happy.
But slowly, over the course of more than a year, things are beginning to change. She’s warming up to one or two of our other horses…..Starbuck seems to be accepting her as a friend. Willow no longer terrifies her. She does not break into a nervous sweat on the trails any more. She’s much calmer under saddle, now that she understands that she does not have to run full blast when someone gets on her…..
These are some pictures taken today of Brittany working with her. It’s a gloomy, rainy day, but her pretty palomino coloring pops against the clouds….
Our horses roam around free on our property much of the time, but during business hours, when we could have customers coming for trail rides, they stay in tents! We’re pretty proud of our modular housing for horses. It fits the Florida climate perfectly.
The horses’ pens are made of horse fencing panels. They are expensive, but sturdy and moveable. Most importantly, though, they’re not stuffy like a traditional wood barn would be. There is good airflow and ventilation….no danger of mold or fungus like with a regular wood barn. We picked an extra sandy spot for our horse pens…the horses stand in clean sand, not straw, stall mats or on concrete. The pens are open so they get a nice breeze and can also see their friends! The tarps that we use on the tents are silver colored and reflect the heat. With the breeze flowing through the panels and the tarps reflecting ability, it is actually nice and cool in the horses’ pens, even in the Florida summer heat. Most of the pens are 10×24. Some of our pens are back to back, but other horses have a pen all to themselves. Horses are extremely social animals, so we pay close attention to who hangs out with whom in their free time. Friends get put close to each other, so that they can enjoy each other’s company even when they are in their pens. When you see horses in back to back pens, it’s because they’re good buddies and like hanging out with each other. Normally, the geldings (boys) will want a stall buddy while the mares (ladies) want a pen to themselves!
Phantom, Dillenger, Jazz and Blaze like to share…..
Our mares, Diamond and Eden need their personal space…..
Apache has a pen by himself because he’s half Clydesdale and he’s BIG!
Round pens, arenas and quarantine areas are also quickly and easily constructed as needed. Whenever we get creative and want to reconfigure our setup, it can be done in a day. And last but not least….when there’s a hurricane or a tropical storm headed our way, we take down the tarps, so there will be no flying debris. In these situations, the horses have a natural instinct to wait out the storm in our woods… the safest possible situation during difficult times.
Dillenger, our Missouri Foxtrotter, really took to off-site trail riding. He loaded easily and was relaxed and happy to be in a new environment. He even went saddle free. Bringing him along was a lot of fun.
Here he is with Mark, taking a break….
On the way back, Mark just rode him with a halter and a lead rope. It gave him a chance to snack here and there….
Resurrection Fern, or Pleopeltis polypodioides, is one of the pretty sights you might see on a trail ride now at Sun City Stables. You only get to see it when it has rained and there is moisture in the air. It is an epiphyte, which means it lives on top of other plants (think trees!) and gets its nutrients from the air and the bark of its host plant.
The resurrection fern gets its name because it can survive long periods of drought by curling up its fronds and appearing desiccated, grey-brown and dead. However, when just a little water is present, the fern will uncurl and reopen, appearing to “resurrect” and restoring itself to a vivid green color within about 24 hours.It has been estimated that these plants could last 100 years without water and still revive after a single exposure.
I love the fern…it makes our trails look like a fairy tale forest…
Typical Central Florida Foliage with Resurrection Fern……at Sun City Stables…..
Riding bareback is great. It’s nice not to have to bother with a saddle and just hop on a horse….. What’s better than riding bareback? Riding double bareback…. ….on a goofy Tennessee Walkerwith REALLY dirty feet and a soda in your hand…. ….like Montana and Mark…. (and, yes, Delight, our Walker, is goofy…ask anyone who knows him…but that’s a story for another day….).
Many tourists who visit Florida either plan to head to the beaches, go sight seeing, or choose to enjoy the nature and wildlife. A preferred activity for those who choose to enjoy the nature and wildlife is horseback riding. In Florida, there are a variety of trails designed for horseback riding. Stables such as Sun City Stables give you an opportunity to rent a horse and ride on these trails either with a guide or without. The special thing about stables such as Sun City Stables is that they do not force you to be accompanied on a ride with a guide. Sun City Stables is also known to allow customers to ride by themselves without a guide, or to hire a guide, whichever they choose.
Trail riding in Florida is a wonderful experience for those who have never gone horseback riding. Florida viewed from the back of a horse is just a little different from a nature walk or a bike ride…..
The experience is well worth your while
. Paso Finos Clyde, Frieda and Valentino…doing their thing…