Horse surfing: It’s a little crazy, it’s a lot of fun and, as far as anyone can tell, Bradenton is the only place on the planet to try it.
I galloped into this adventure in Palma Sola Bay (less than hour from Tampa), courtesy of Timothy Mattox’s Great World Nature Tours. My husband and I met Timothy by the Bay, where we were paired with appropriate mounts. We started with a ride along the sands, along with four or five other fun-seekers. Helpers led the horses of less-experienced riders, but I got to enjoy a canter on the back of my trusty, grey steed, dubbed "Batman."
Next, we waded into the water. The water lapped at Batman’s knees but rapidly deepened. When it reached his withers he started swimming – a first-time experience for me, though I have ridden hundreds of horses. I cannot begin to express how utterly strange it is to have a mullet leap out of the water inches from your horse’s nose or to have a Jet-Ski cruise by. I was laughing out loud along with most of the other riders.
Then it was time for the main event. Batman snorted as I crouched on my knees and wobbled. A moment later I was standing atop him like a circus rider, bare toes dug into his slippery, wet coat, waiting for him to wiggle and plunge me into the drink. I was horse-surfing!
Well, for a second, anyhow.
Want to try it, too?
Visit www.beachhorses.com. The only way to book a ride is online.
Insider’s Tip: This adventure books up quickly, so reserve a spot as soon as possible.
More details: If you’re nervous, have never ridden, are getting long in the tooth or have young children, don’t worry. Great World Nature Tours can probably accommodate you. If you have fewer than 50 hours of formal riding instruction, your horse will be on a lead line the entire time. Enjoy a leisurely ride on the beach and add wading, swimming or surfing according to your wishes; rides are geared towards you.
You must weigh less than 240 lbs. Anyone under the age of 16 must wear a helmet (provided). If you have more than 50 hours of formal riding instruction you can trot and canter.