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  • Writer's pictureNancy McAleer

The Best Horseback Riding Experience ~ Anna Maria Island

Updated: Jan 3, 2022

Insider's Guide to Horseback Riding ~ Anna Maria Island

As an Anna Maria Island Insider, I have the envious job of scoping out and reporting back the very best experiences that Anna Maria Island has to offer. I am delighted to share this horseback riding experience with you. I'm one of those people that drag her family to ride every time we go on vacation. I've ridden on the Italian coast, through Jamaican waters, in the bush in Australia.... you name it. Of all these equine trail rides I have to admit riding with C Ponies Beach Horses is my favourite. It's an 'equestrian aquatic adventure'!

What is C Ponies Beach horseback riding all about?

Horseback riding with C Ponies is a combination of riding and swimming all at once. Owner Carmen Herrmann Hanson, has carefully selected and trained her horses to ensure that all riders experience a safe and enjoyable ride. Carmen is an experienced horsewoman, proudly the fourth generation of horse trainers in her family. Her love of sharing a unique coastal riding experience with others led her to open C Ponies Beach Horses.

This horseback ride is like no other you've experienced. Mounting up is easy on the steps provided. Sitting high in the saddle gives you a majestic and unique perspective like no other. You can see so much marine life by riding high in the saddle. The large horses are sturdy and gentle giving the rider a sense of security as they amble down the beach and through the water.

Horseback riding on the beach with Pelicans ~ Anna Maria Island

Why are the horses called Drum horses?

The breed of horse chosen by Carmen is called Gypsy Vanner or Drum horses. This rare and unique breed is called a Drum Horse because historically, it has been used in Britain during certain state ceremonies, parades, and processions. They are called Drum horses because they were used to carry a rider and two large kettledrums during these exhibitions. The preferred type of horse to perform this task must be large, and strong with an even temperament. The combined weight of the drums and rider could exceed 300 pounds. Due to a parade and ceremony atmosphere, a horse was required to have an easy, calm and gentle disposition. These Drum horses are from the bloodlines of the Clydesdale, Shire, Friesian and Gypsy Cob breeds. Carmen is careful to train and offer only horses that are safe, gentle, love the water and love swimming. Each of Carmen's Drum Ponies is registered with the IDHA, International Drum Horse Association.

Horseback Riding ~ Anna Maria Island, Florida

Is Horseback riding easy?

Yes. Get to know your Drum horse by taking an easy ride along the beach with your guide. Then together, head out to into Palma Sola Bay where you and your horse will enjoy some gentle walking in the water. Keep your eyes open for manatees, dolphins, stingray, fish and other aquatic animals. End your ride swimming with your beautiful and majestic horse! They will actually paddle and swim in the water while you ride, making you feel like you are flying. Grab onto their mane and hang on for an amazing experience!

Do I need to be an experienced rider?

No previous riding experience is necessary. This fantastic ride is a great family experience but children must be 8 years and older. All riders are provided with a saddle for an extra sense of security and comfort.

Swimming on a Horse ~ Anna Maria Island

Can we horseback ride all year round?

Yes! You can enjoy horseback riding near Anna Maria Island, Florida all year round. The only time that the ride in the water will not be available is if the water is too cold for the horses and guests. However, an incredible ride along the beach shoreline is a great alternative. Explore Florida sea and wildlife on horseback, a totally unique experience.

Is there an age or weight requirement?

Children must be 8 years and and up to ride

Riders must have a maximum weight of 285 lbs. (129 kgs)

Are the horses treated well?

Carmen explains that the C Ponies health and welfare are her top priority.

"We make sure our horses are in perfect health and fitness. The horses only work a limited time and are rotated so each horse has several days off each week. These horses are never abused or made to work, they actually love their jobs. Carmen tells me that the horses actually love to swim, just like us. Occasionally we come across a horse that may not like to swim, and if that happens it is removed from the tours and is retrained in another discipline. For the safety of our horses’ health, water temperatures must be at least 70° to swim with the horses."

Why Carmen chose to start C Ponies.

"After training horses and working in the equine industry its always about performing, showing, training. At times you forget about the sheer pleasure a horse brings. This job is a dream come true. I have the most beautiful horses in the most beautiful setting. When riders see our horses, well that's the first joy. When they finish the ride. That's the best part. I love making dreams come true."

Man Flyboarding on Vacation

What do I bring?

  • Riders are asked to arrive 15 minutes prior to their scheduled time

  • Bathing suit, or something comfortable to swim in

  • Water shoes

  • Towels

  • Hat

  • Sunscreen

  • Drinking Water

  • Dry Clothes for after the ride

  • Waterproof Camera

  • Long-Sleeve shirt recommended all year round due to the sun's strong rays

How much does it cost?

  • Rides are 60 minutes long and start at $150.

  • Tipping your horse handler is encouraged. They work hard keeping the rider comfortable and catering to the horses’ needs.

Horsesurfing on Anna Maria Island, Florida

What happens if the weather doesn't cooperate?

If inclement weather occurs we will reschedule your booked session to make sure you don't miss out on your experience. If the weather continues and rebooking is not possible a full refund will be offered.

How do I book a ride?

You can book a horseback riding experience easily online. We have live availability so you can reserve your spot to suit your schedule. It's a popular sport so we advise visitors to book well in advance. We take all major credit cards on our secure booking platform and provide an itinerary to guests.

Insider Tip Icon - pink seahorse

Insider Tip!

Horseback rides are limited, so book your ride as far in advance as you can. Weekdays are better as there are fewer people on the beach!

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Horse Surfing on Anna Maria Island, Florida

Our thanks to Carmen for her expertise and sharing her knowledge with us. We think this would make the perfect gift in addition to a memorable vacation experience. It's on our bucket list to do again and we can't wait to share it with our guests at Anna Maria Island Home Rental.

Sirenia Beach House Vacation Rental


In the spirit of full disclosure, this page contains affiliated links, which means that I may get a commission if you decide to purchase anything from the above-listed companies. Please note that I only recommend products & systems that I have experienced and love, so I know you’ll be in good hands. All prices listed are lower than or comparable to regular rates. Services, tours and travel experience prices are never marked up! Companies are chosen with strict criteria including but notwithstanding; licensed within the state of Florida, excellent customer service, respect for coastal and marine life, excellence in safety. If a company is unable to respect our strict criteria they will be removed from our website.

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