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Riding the Sands of Amelia Island

Listed under One Day Horse Rides in Florida, United States.

  • Photo of Riding the Sands of Amelia Island
  • Photo of Riding the Sands of Amelia Island
Photo of Riding the Sands of Amelia Island
Photo by Hal Peat
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Lying just off the coast of northeast Florida, Amelia Island retains much of its natural landscape although it is a longtime favored destination for travelers who like to escape from more congested holiday destinations. While the island is less than half an hour's ride from Jacksonville airport, it is a world apart from the large and busy attractions of Florida's eastern coast. Nowadays it has its share of upscale spa resorts, smaller bed and breakfasts and golf courses, but by and large what you encounter on a ride here is the still sequestered landscape of natural parkland and the openness of the beaches.

Riding on the beaches here will make it instantly clear to you why Amelia Island is considered a "barrier island". The Atlantic waves break here in strength along its eastern shoreline that makes it unadvisable for the type of long meandering into the sea that often takes place on horseback "swims" along the calmer currents of the Caribbean. On the other hand, just riding along the long and unimpeded stretches of fine sand beach that Amelia Island has with the waves surging nearby provides its own memorable type of coastal ride.

The expert residents for rides here are Kelly Seahorse Ranch, which takes all levels of equestrians out for one-hour guided rides that are mainly routed along the sands. Their private trail goes from their ranch through the maritime hammock that is also part of Amelia Island State Park. The Park is home to an interesting range of airborne residents -- including terns, gulls, pelicans, blue herons, snowy egrets and other shorebirds -- at least some of which you are likely to spot enroute Also along the way is a beautiful expanse of natural sand dunes fronting the beach. The Park is at the southernmost tip of the island and when you reach the turnaround point of your ride, you can see across the Nassau Sound to the neighboring state park islands of Big Talbot and Little Talbot.

The horses here are American quarter horse, very familiar with their terrain. Helmets are not required but are available from the ranch if you want to borrow one. Wearing closed shoes with some heel on them is ideal, and bring your own sunscreen or insect repellent as needed.

Written by  Hal Peat.

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