Experience the Outdoors on Horseback in Anna Maria Island

On your next vacation to Florida, consider a stay on Anna Maria Island! This barrier island located off the Gulf Coast is an incredible place to relax and unwind away from the hustle and bustle of city life. You won’t find high rises and chain restaurants; instead, you’ll mingle with the locals and walk down the street to the best local shops and eateries.

When you’re planning out your itinerary, you’re likely to be interested in the exciting outdoor activities on Anna Maria Island.

You might be thinking about parasailing, kayaking, or paddle boarding, but what if we told you that one of the best activities on AMI was horseback riding? It’s an incredibly unique and fun way to explore the island, and you can do it just minutes from your Anna Maria Island rental!

What to Expect

Horseback riding in Anna Maria Island is an experience unlike any other, so go into it with an open mind. Even if you’ve never been on horseback before, this is an activity that you can enjoy. Any company you may choose to book an adventure with will have experienced staff members standing by to show you the ropes and help you feel comfortable and safe.

When most people picture horseback riding, they think about a fast-paced experience with the horse running as fast as they can. On Anna Maria Island, quite the opposite is true. These horses are specifically trained to provide a relaxing experience as they walk through the shoreline. You can simply get comfortable with your horse and enjoy the breathtaking nature all around you.

For any excursion you may go on, you’ll want to wear clothing that you don’t mind getting wet. Comfortable footwear is vital as well; flip flops and sandals are not generally recommended. Individual companies have their own guidelines as to whether guests can bring cell phones on their journey, so check with your company of choice before you embark.

Where to Go

There are three major companies that offer Anna Maria Island horseback riding: C Ponies, The Real BeachHorses, and Gulf Coast Ponies. 

C Ponies

C Ponies was founded by Carmen Herrmann Hanson, a former horse trainer and riding instructor who was forced to retire after a non-horse related accident in 2012. Hanson was no stranger to horseback swimming even before opening C Ponies; she often used the activity to keep her horses cool and in shape during the hot summer months. Today, the majority of C Ponies’ horses are rescued (95%!) and have been rehabilitated from horrible conditions, and they live much happier and healthier lives thanks to Carmen.

C Ponies offers up six different excursions, but their most popular ride by far is the Platinum Excursion. This 1.5-hour journey is perfect for all riders ages 10 and over. After a quick lesson, you and your horse will swim out into the waters while your experienced guide teaches you all about the native marine life and the horses your group is riding. This experience starts at $140 per person.

Other trips available through C Ponies include the Alafia River State Park Trail Ride, Deer Prairie Creek Preserve Trail Ride, Little Manatee River State Park, Sunset Platinum Excursion, and St. Petersburg Beach Excursion. Rides range in length from 1-2 hours and in price from $125-$150 per person. You can schedule rides any day of the week, as early as 9:30 a.m. or as late as 6 p.m.

The Real BeachHorses

The Real BeachHorses is a full-scale adventure tour company headquartered in nearby Lakewood Ranch. The company was originally called Great World Nature Tours and started guiding informal trail rides in 2006 and 2007. They acquired 10 horses, a 24’ stock trailer, and an F-150 truck and quickly became known throughout the area. In 2008, they got even more popular with the addition of beach rides in Palma Sola Bay in Bradenton. 

up close of horse face

The most popular horseback riding excursion offered through The Real BeachHorses is called The Chill Ride. This relaxing experience lasts 1.5 hours and is ideal for guests ages 10 and older. Almost all of the horses here are rescues, and you’re sure to fall in love as soon as you meet your companion. You’ll be provided with a life jacket and helmet, and your horse will be equipped with a custom-made waterproof bridle. Your guide will get you comfortable and show you around the waters, and you might even get lucky enough to have dolphins swimming right alongside you! 

The Real BeachHorses also offers excursions called The Thrill Ride and The Trail Ride (which takes you through Deer Prairie Creek Preserve). The company also offers non-horseback excursions like kayaking, boat tours, food tours, airplane rides, and more. Horseback adventures last 1-2 hours and can cost anywhere from $98 to $140 per person. Tours are available daily from approximately 7 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.

Gulf Coast Ponies

Gulf Coast Ponies is a family-run operation that has been passionate about horses since the 1960s. The family has shown horses for decades and has long been dedicated to rehabilitating horses that come from unhealthy and unsafe conditions. They established Gulf Coast Ponies as a way to entertain and educate the public as well as assist with rehabilitating their rescue horses.

The most popular tour at Gulf Coast Ponies is the Bradenton Beach Excursion. This experience lasts about one hour and is available to riders of all ages. You’ll be paired up with a horse and will be given a basic lesson, perfect for those who have never ridden a horse before. Then, your equestrian guide will help you wade out into the waters of the Bay and point out marine life that may surround you. This excursion also includes pictures and videos to help you capture the memory for a lifetime! 

In addition to their Bradenton Beach Excursion, Gulf Coast Ponies also offer on-road and off-road trail rides for those who want to ride on horseback but don’t want to be in the water. Adventures can last from 1-2 hours and cost anywhere from $85-$100 per rider. This cost does include pictures taken throughout your journey.

Where to Stay

Anna Maria Island horseback riding is a one-of-a-kind experience that you and your family surely don’t want to miss out on. Along with fishing, kayaking, and hiking, it’s one of the best outdoor experiences you can have on the island! At the end of the day, you’ll want a comfortable place to freshen up and relive the memories with the ones you love most.

Our Anna Maria Island vacation rentals offer luxurious yet affordable accommodations for groups of all sizes. We are the newest beachfront motel on AMI offering upscale lodging with unmatched Gulf views and stylish interiors in every unit.

Plan Your Next Stay

If you’re not sure which accommodation is right for you, our friendly and knowledgeable staff are always here to help. No matter what you plan to do while you’re in town, we can help make your vacation the experience of a lifetime! Contact us today to learn more about all of our rental options!