We had an excellent experience at Green Acres Ranch on the Hummingbird Highway this weekend. This isn’t the closest horseback riding to be had from Placencia, but I think its worth the extra drive time. What a marvelous property! Beautiful facility with gorgeous horses and great guides. Here’s a review of our riding adventure in the shadow of the Sleeping Giant mountain.
First of all, you would be remiss to come to Belize and only see one region or limit your experiences to a particular destination. So, if you’re planning your Placencia vacation, I think it has to include a couple excursions OFF the peninsula. For great hiking you can’t go wrong with Cockscomb or Bocawina. For Maya culture and chocolate tours you gotta head south. For Scarlet Macaws, Butterfly Farms, or Bioluminescence, you don’t have to travel all that far. But there’s something uniquely special about the interior of the country. I get a thrill whenever I hit a certain spot on the Hummingbird Highway; somewhere just past Alta Vista when the landscape really changes and the forest’s scent makes an almost imperceptible shift. It’s a drive that never disappoints- so pretty! Green Acres Ranch is beyond St. Margaret’s Village and before Caves Branch. It is right across the road from Sleeping Giant Jungle Lodge.
When my friend told me we had the opportunity to take this horseback excursion to a waterfall near Sleeping Giant Lodge I immediately thought of this Dreaming Giant Waterfall Tour and expected it to be that Ranch but Green Acres is on the opposite side of the road. This entire area is just spectacular. Streams and creeks, old growth forest and rolling fields of citrus trees, a mix of erodible limestone and fertile soil make the topography so unique and interesting.
Turn in to the Ranch just after the curve, it is the next drive on your right after Yam Witts (if you hit the bridge you’ve gone too far). The property is beautiful. It was once primarily a citrus farm, then they got into the Braham Cattle game and now they’re offering horseback riding. They have beautiful new bathrooms and a great picnic area/ palapa with hammocks. The property extends across orchards and fields and in to jungle-y terrain around limestone karsts.
We were a mixed group of riders; we had a range of ages and abilities, some first timers and some pre-teen self-proclaimed equestrian kids that were chopping at the bit to get behind some reigns, and some ordinary mid-aged suburban folk that have maybe ridden in the past but don’t “do horses” on a regular basis. The Green Acres crew matched horses to riders and gave instructions to everyone that needed them and we were off! We took a trail to a waterfall and I really thought our crew was going to be more into swimming than riding, but everyone was doing so great on horseback we sorta didn’t want to upset the apple kart by stopping the ride. (You gotta read the room and adjust accordingly to a group like ours that rolls heavy with kids) A typical tour could stop for awhile at the waterfall or go down stream and include a swim with the horses. That sounds phenomenal and I definitely want to go back and try that. There’s a spot in the creek that is deep and wide so that you unsaddle your horse and doggy paddle along side them.
The horses here are big and clean and healthy and well trained. I’ve had riding experiences in the past that were underwhelming or downright uncomfortable. Nothing makes me feel like a loser fat a$$ American tourist than riding a tired and undersized horse that is clearly not enjoying its job of hauling me around. These horses are happy and healthy and plenty big and strong. We had the option of splitting the group at certain times to allow some riders to continue walking their horses and other riders to try galloping and running if they felt up to it.
I was one of the middle-aged suburban riders but I wanted to give galloping a go, and as I became more confident over the course of my ride I started to think that maybe I DO “do horses.” On the final stretch of galloping area I decided to open ‘er up and see what my horse (Golden Dash) could really do. It turns out he can run a whole hell of a lot faster than I ever would have imagined. Holy sh!t maybe I missed my calling in life as a race jockey because we were flippin fly over these fields! We came around a bend Tokyo Drift style and I swear my life flashed before my eyes but what fun! And I could just tell that Golden Dash enjoyed himself, he would have taken a few more sprints with me if I hadn’t been a hair’s breath away from wetting my pants. That’s the riding experience I want- a joyful experience for both the horse and me and that’s what you have at Green Acres Ranch.