It was hot and sticky, and my hands were covered in mango juice,
so when our guide asked if we wanted to go for a swim with the
horses at the end of our ride through the Jamaican jungle, my
answer was definitely yes.
The guides quickly made adjustments to our saddles for the watery
ride, and then we were trotting into the ocean. At first my horse
seemed a little apprehensive about diving all the way in, and I
watched with jealousy as other riders sank with their horses into
the warm water. Then it was my turn. After some coaxing, my horse
bounded into the deep, and we were swimming gracefully along the
At the Rhodes Hall Plantation in Negril, Jamaica, this excursion
is one of several horseback riding options that clients can take
advantage of during their visit.
My group consisted of a couple on their honeymoon, another couple
on vacation, a group of three friends and myself, plus our two
well-trained guides. Our journey started at the stable, where we
were given brief riding instructions and helmets. We learned the
“rules of the road” and how to steer our horses. I’ve ridden all my
life, so I didn’t have too many questions, but another guest had
never been on a horse and the guides gave her a quick riding lesson
and stayed nearby, in case she had any problems or questions. By
the end of the ride, she looked like an experienced equestrian.
There are two different guided rides offered at Rhodes Hall.
The Mountain Ride, started out on a trail through the jungle. The
guides pointed out various flora and fauna along the way. We saw
several different kinds of herbal plants, beautiful flowers and a
bamboo grove. Since I am a complete wimp when it comes to bugs, my
focus strayed from the plant life as I kept my eye out for
mosquitoes, flies and giant spiders. However, I worried needlessly;
bug repellent kept the mosquitoes and flies at bay, and I didn’t
see any man-eating spiders, although there were a few big ones!
Leaving the jungle, we passed a swamp, which is one of the largest
crocodile reserves in Western Jamaica. From the trail, we veered
over to the swampy muck to catch a glimpse of one of the 70
resident crocs and spotted a couple of snouts peering at us from
the under the brush.
The ride carried on alongside mango trees and our guides stopped
to pick fruit for the riders. Riding with a whole, sliced-open
mango in my hands became a sticky situation, but the fruit was so
good, I couldn’t put it down.
We slowly made our way down toward the beach, nearing the end of
our journey. After a quick swim with the horses, and a dunk in the
ocean to rinse off, we said good-bye to our four-legged
In the heat of the summer, the Beach Ride is the best bet. Guests
go for a leisurely ride along two miles of beach, traversing the
shoreline, mangrove and crocodile reserve. Guides point out
different herbal plants, flowers and birds along the way. The ride
continues along the shoreline, as the horses wade into the water
and swim along the Rhodes Mineral Spring Beach.
After either ride, clients can relax at the Rhodes Hall Plantation
while they wait for the complimentary shuttle. A small snack bar
serves drinks and snacks (cash only). Guests can also wander the
grounds. The plantation has been in continuous operation since the
1700s, when it was primarily producing rum. Old cauldrons dot the
property and various artifacts and implements have been preserved
for display. The property eventually evolved into a sugar
In addition to escorted rides, Rhodes Hall offers beginner and
intermediate riding lessons, as well as special packages. A
professional photographer can also take photos and video of the
Rhodes Hall Plantation Horseback Riding
What to bring: Clients should wear comfortable long pants that
they don’t mind getting dirty and wet. Also tell clients to bring
along a bottle of water and lots of sunscreen. The best bet is to
have a small backpack to hold your things during the ride or big