By Kelly Jadon
Florida is the birthplace of the American cowboy. Horses in the Americas came first to Florida, introduced by the Spanish in the 1500s. From this stock came Cracker horses which herded longhorn cattle, another first in the United States.
This is the heritage of Martin County: The Land of the Cowboy
Martin County, Florida is scenic and beautiful—but the best views are found on its hidden horse trails. Many of these historic trails have been preserved on state park lands:
Savannas Preserve State Park (8.5 miles) through the Savannas marsh system. There is a designated equestrian area for trailers. Call ahead for equestrian gate combinations. Call 772-398-2779 or the Park Office at 772-340-7530.
Allapattah Flats (5.5 miles) through slash pine flatwoods leading to an open marsh with wading birds. Also features additional equestrian trails and a 150-acre riding area.
DuPuis Reserve has an equestrian center at Gate 3 with horse barns, paddocks, campsites, restrooms with showers, a dump station and a trailhead marking the beginning of 40 miles of equestrian trails. This land is two-thirds pinelands and one-third cypress swamp/freshwater marsh and is home to alligators, river otters, feral hogs, coyotes, deer and even bald eagles.
(Horse riders are required to have proof of negative Coggins on their person or in their saddlebag when on State of Florida lands. Children under the age of 16 are required to wear a helmet when riding on State lands.) http://laws.flrules.org/files/Ch_2009-105.pdf
Palm City Farms is the western branch of historical Martin County between the Florida Turnpike and I-95—its 70 miles of trails predate the 1920s land boom and are excellent for horseback riding.
Sunny Time Stables in Palm City offers individualized lessons for ages 4 to 83. In the summer they run a camp for kids. Sunny Time Stables also offers affordable trail rides.
email@example.com or 772-621-0067
Greenridge Stables, owned by Kathy McLaughlin, is a unique ride experience, offering fox hunts, hunter-jumper and trail rides. Every morning Kathy trailers her horses to a state park to take out riders. At Allapattah Flats, riders will enter a canopied area known as “Costa Rica,” and on the low lands they can view coffee bean plants and ancient pecan trees. These rides may last up to two hours. Kathy also has boarding for up to 50 horses and 40 acres of turnout. She offers English and Western lessons in dressage and hunting.
Marasco Ranch hosts lessons, adult trail rides and summer camps. They also provide parties, field trips, a family day, a mommy and me event and have a petting zoo!
Jmar61@comcast.net 772-708-1879 or 772-708-1861
For parents with special needs children, contact Full Circle Therapeutic Riding. Executive Director, Linda McLendon, focuses on “liberation rather than limitation; she welcomes children with traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, stroke, cerebral palsy, mental retardation, emotional disturbances, impaired vision or hearing, learning disabilities, Down syndrome and spina bifida.” Linda McLendon has received the Jefferson Award for her work with therapy horses.
Dressage and Lippizan-style training is available at the legendary Sons of the Wind Farm in Palm City.
Former Marine water survival instructor Mark Updike specializes in behavior modification of horses when they are acting out and the owner is afraid. He acts as a bridge between the horse and rider. An illusionist, his tricks are performed at clinics which teach riders how to respond in a difficult situation. Nationally recognized, Mark has complete obstacle training with a course set up at all times.
firstname.lastname@example.org or 772-940-1714
Olympian Tina Konyot operates a Florida farm for dressage in Palm City during the winter. She trains young horses through the Grand Prix and the rider “in all aspects of training, riding and competing.”
McNally Show Horses offers certified training, extensive turnout for boarding horses and ample trail access. Michelle McNally is also a licensed judge.
email@example.com or 772-285-4875
Martin Downs Equestrian Center
MartinDownsEC@gmail.com or 772-486-1038
Special Olympics of Martin County begins Equestrian Training in the fall to prepare for shows in February, with Martin County Area Games to be held at Captain Quarters Equestrian Center in Palm City. Last year 16 athletes participated; seven went to the State competition and placed. The program is open to children and adults with special needs.
Director Betty Marshall, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Payson Park is a licensed and accredited 400-acre training center for thoroughbred race horses in Indiantown. Owned by Virginia Payson, the facility’s slogan is “happy horses win,” and their track is one of the best in the nation. In season, families may come out and eat breakfast on site.
Since 1947 the Indiantown Rodeo has welcomed thousands of fans from dozens of states. Today the rodeo continues at Timer Powers Park under the sponsorship of the Martin County Sheriff’s Office each October. You’ll enjoy the excitement of steer wrestling, bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, roping events, barrel racing and bull riding.
Would you like to adopt a horse? Florida TRAC (Thoroughbred Retirement and Adoptive Care Program is the only thoroughbred rescue in the State of Florida. Over 400 horses have entered the program and almost half of these retired racers have been placed in adoptive homes. Many continue as show horses, in the arena or as therapeutic horses.
email@example.com or 772-485-3799
At The Equine Rescue and Adoption Foundation (ERAF) in Palm City abandoned, abused, neglected and slaughter-bound horses are cared for here after rescue by county officials. They also take in horses prior to hurricanes for temporary relocation. Since 2000, more than 120 horses have been placed in new homes.
Martin County Horse Council is a local advocacy group which links the horse community together. For all horse-related needs, please do not hesitate to contact Kathy Brown, Founder at firstname.lastname@example.org or 772-260-4790