While vacationing in Lanai one of the activities I chose to partake in was horseback riding. Although I stayed at the Four Seasons Resort at Manele Bay, the sister property, Four Seasons Lodge at Koele, offers a full featured equestrian center called The Stables at Koele.
The Stables (tel. 808/565-4424) offer various rides, including group rides which they describe as “a slow, gentle walk”, starting at $65 for a 1 1/2-hour trip. The good news is that it was “slow”. The bad news is that it was not “gentle”.
In all fairness, I did sign up with a group for the “easy” ride, so keep that in mind as I describe the experience.
When it came to horseback riding, I was the most experienced rider in the group. And I’ve only really ridden a few times at my cousin’s ranches. In fact only one other person had ever ridden a horse. So we really did have a fresh group of riders.
We started out from the stables on our 1.5 hour trek after only about 1 minute’s instruction and absolutely no practice riding. I guess it wasn’t a big deal, but I kind of thought that given the number of completely inexperienced riders they might have wanted to take a spin around the ranch before heading out into the hills.
Anyway, these horses were obviously so “trained” that instruction hardly seemed necessary. Indeed, my own horse – Dusty – was indignant when I tried to make him do anything other than follow the horse in front of him. Clearly we had not bonded.
Although the horses were very tame, the terrain was not. Almost the entire ride consisted of going up and down hills – most of which were very boring looking. And anyone with even a little experience knows this means a lot of shifting around in the saddle. When combined with walking this is a long, sore-inducing method of transport.
So the bottom line group consensus was this:
- The first 30 minutes of the ride was fairly amusing. Plenty of grinning, joking and pleasantries.
- The next 30 minutes of the ride was a bit more somber and quite, and involved slightly more aggressive terrain.
- The last half hour was like a guest that has overstayed his welcome. You keep watching the clock and praying for it to end.
In this case, the ride would have been enhanced by one of two methods:
- Give more instruction and practice at the beginning, and at some points in the ride speed up to at least a slightly faster ride.
- Shorten the entire event by 1/3. Don’t worry, people will still feel like they got their money’s worth.
A few last details… Long pants and shoes are required; safety helmets are provided. Bring a jacket: The weather is chilly and rain is frequent. Children must be at least 9 years old and 4 feet tall, and riders cannot weigh more than 250 pounds.
All in all, I could take or leave this activity. It’s not a big enough reason to contribute towards actually making a trip to Lanai, but if you have some time to kill and can’t think of anything better to do, it’s certainly an option.
Finally, here is a little video clip from the ride. This was a part basically in the middle where we were riding through a path cut through a fairly dense group of trees. It was extremely quite and remote and I would say my favorite part of the journey.
Incidentally, this was filmed with my Sanyo Xacti waterproof camcorder. Seems like it does a pretty good job even when not submerged.