Ride A Horse on Your Hawaii Vacation

Group of visitors on horseback with a tour guide

If you like to ride horseback and think you will have few, if any, opportunities to indulge while you’re in Hawaii on vacation, you are mistaken. Those of us who live in the islands like to ride, too. (In our vernacular, we like to “ride horse.”)

Our kids start riding early and take lessons from highly-qualified instructors. The Hawaii Horse Show Association offers hunter, jumper and western competitions throughout the year on Oahu, and other organizations stage events on the neighbor islands. In fact, each of the islands has its “horse country,” with ranches, farms and stables.

You may be here while a rodeo is being held on your island, and they’re great fun with all the events the major circuits feature. The largest rodeo of the year takes place on the 4th of July. With more than 350 cowboys from all over the world, the rodeo livens up Oskie Rice Rodeo Arena, at Kaanaolo Ranch near Makawao on Maui. This Hawaiian style rodeo, with rough stock and roping events, has everything down to the clowns. Before and after the rodeo, you can indulge in the live entertainment and country western dancing.

Wherever you’re staying, you’ll have a lot of choices if you’d like to spend some time on horseback — quick trail rides, rides on the beaches, romantic waterfall picnics, moonlight rides and even intensive cattle drives. Horseback riding in Hawaii offers a huge variety of experiences. Prices start at about $60 for an hour and a half per person, and there is a number of horseback adventures – such as a ride to the Haleakala crater on Maui – with prices that range between $120 and $200 per person. Several hotels and resorts offer horseback riding as a standard amenity like golf, tennis or a spa. Experienced professionals will make sure your venture into the world of Hawaiian equestrianism is an unforgettable one!

We can work horseback riding into your vacation plans for you. Just pick an agent from the Hawaii Aloha Web site home page (Hawaii-aloha.com), or call 1-800-843-8771.

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Shortly after I moved my family to Hawaii from the East Coast in the early 1970s, we were befriended by my lawyer and his wife, who had a family ranch in Waimanalo — “horse country” on Oahu. Beverly, the wife, insisted that she give horseback-riding lessons to our nine-year-old daughter Karen. Easy enough. The horses were on hand, lessons were free and Karen seemed to love both the ranch and riding. She conscientiously tended to her tack, cleaned stalls and groomed as many horses as she could, visiting the ranch virtually every day.

After about a year, Beverly told us that Karen’s riding skills were extraordinary, and that she should take private, professional lessons. Okay, we went along with that. With the lessons, Karen was becoming more and more proficient on horseback and we began to enter her in equestrian show events. Up until then she had been “share boarding” – paying part of the cost of boarding a ranch horse that was ridden by as many as three or four others. She started earning ribbons at shows, and before long most of the ribbons were blue. It was time to buy her a horse of her own. She and her beloved Renegade reached statewide championship status, now earning trophies and medals and plates regularly. Karen continued to ride competitively until boys became as interesting to her as riding horse, and that’s when Renegade was sold.

When it was time for her to leave for college, she had accumulated a lawn bag full of ribbons and shelves full of various kinds of trophies. A rough count came out at 300 or so. I started to do some retroactive arithmetic. Each ribbon represented at least a $15 entry fee in its class. Especially at the outset, she entered several classes in which she did not place. The trophies represented high-end shows and the entry fees were considerably higher. Then, of course, there were the costs relating to the share boarding and later her own stall, feed and tack, saddle, boots, riding livery, lessons, veterinarian services … and the champion Renegade’s purchase price.

Actually, I don’t like to think about it.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Thats funny my parents did the same thing with my sister and I . in the mid 70s but I am so grateful even though having our horse was a big cost . I remember Renagade . Our horse was Ms. Foxy Socks .

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