Riding a Pony on the Beach in St. Maarten: A poorly named blog about riding a pony on the beach in St. Maarten

Riding a pony on the beach

 - A St. Maarten Trail and Beach Horseback Riding Tour review -

And if I had a boat
I'd go out on the ocean
And if I had a pony
I'd ride him on my boat
And we could all together
Go out on the ocean
Me upon my pony on my boat
- Lyle Lovett

That's a real song. I heard it in a movie once and the lyrics resonated with me. I often tell people that's the only thing we don't have on this ship ...along with dolphins in the swimming pool - both of which happen to be two of the demands I make during this one skit we do when we are voted out of Dancing with the Stars and take the losers lounge host hostage. The point is: I like ponies and I always wanted one... -at least until I found out that unicorns are real. (There are nine references to them in the Bible - nine!) When I worked on ships before there was one excursion that I always tried to get on, but was always fully booked: horseback riding in the ocean. What a perfect combination of ponies and the beach! This year for my birthday I finally got to do that - Along with Evan who was also celebrating his birthday. We also bought each other stuffed toy beanie baby ponies.  

 It was so exciting to be able to do something I had dreamed about for so long. I wasn't naive enough to think I would get a pink pony or a blue one, but I did have a number of other romantic notions about what it would be like to do this. For instance, in my dream there would be a light wind blowing my hair back, and it would change direction with me to always blow in my face, while I rode in slow motion the whole time. The helmet was never part of my fantasy. I think when they gave me one that's when I realised the reality of the situation: Not only would I not be picture perfect windswept, but there was probably some danger involved. The last time I rode a pony was when I was a child and we went to the local plant nursery with the kids from across the street, but this time we didn't have some guy holding the reigns and leading the pony around the nature trail we were doing. We had to hold the reigns ourselves and make the pony go in certain directions, and not stop for lunch (that was tricky), and not rear up and throw us off damaging our organs and maiming us for life both physically and emotionally.  

 Fortunately, horses are animals and not technology. Animals like me and cooperate with me. Technology hates me (like my currently broken laptop - I'm writing this blog on a borrowed computer) and does some really annoying impractical things if you push the wrong buttons ...or even when I push the right ones. (Note to self: Don't ever ride a robotic horse ....or a mechanical bull). My pony's name was "Viva" and she was very nice for a brown one. I don't know if I did everything right, but my spleen and my spine are still very much intact which is good because I really like both those things. 

We did a nature trail first, following a narrow dusty pathway along a hillside with beautiful views of the ocean. Going up and down the sometimes steep rocky pathways was a little daunting. If the horse lost it’s footing or decided it didn’t like you the results could be bad. I started to relax a bit as we went down to the beach in the sea. That was really lovely. Any and all work-related stress dissipated into the ocean breeze and calmness washed over me as the warm water lapped against my legs. - Right up until the part when the horse in front of me defaecated in the water. I was too scared to lift my feet up out of the stirrups so I let the poop brush past me. Beautiful.  A while later, the horse in front of her urinated in the water (yes, you could see it, even in the ocean). And poor Evan, behind me at the very back really got the raw end of the deal as my horse was a bit flatulent (for the full duration of the ride).

Anyway, next time you watch a movie or a soap opera and Ridge and Brook get married on the beach again and one of them arrives in slow motion on a white horse, all windswept in a pretty dress and not ugly, but practical, shorts like the ones I wore, think of me and remember: That’s probably not a fresh ocean breeze blowing through her helmet-free hair. 

Yeah, I think I'm going to ride a dolphin next. I'm sure they never poo in the sea. 

My"seriously you couldn't hold it?" face

A more experienced rider


In other news:
Riding an invisible pony on a ship

Speaking of pony riding, the week of my birthday I started an air-pony riding (a.k.a Gangnam style) flashmob. It was pretty awesome. My dear friends Dan and Jules recently got married and in the lead up to their wedding, the bride asked me if I could help her with some dance moves for her reception and include a Gangnam Style instructional video into the video message I was planning to send. So I did just that and thought it would be fun to intercut it with other shots of some Gangnam. So when we passed US Public Health Inspection and management decided to throw the crew their own Glow party, I took my camera in case the opportunity for some Gangnam presented itself.  It's always a good time for some Gangnam!

A couple minutes into the party I asked the DJ to play it. He agreed but I got the feeling it was either to shut me up or because he didn’t understand English. At some point, Evan grabbed a mic and started MCing the party so I asked him and he got the DJ to play it and threw in a "Follow Sharon" into the mic after the song started. If I was impressed by my ability to bring back the Macarena, my Gangnam flashmob took things to a whole new level. A whole bunch of random crew members that I don't know and a lot of my friends joined in with me even though I got the choreography from my last ship and I don't know how many (if any) of them knew it. 

Of the 60-something nationalities that can be found on board, to my knowledge, there are only two Koreans. I expected them to greet my cheesy reference to the most overexposed aspect of Korean pop culture with the same amount of disdain as I would have to …um …Die Antwoord? ….Locnville? …Mr Bones? …Yeah, there really isn’t a South African equivalent, - but that was not the case.  Now, all both of the Koreans on board like me. The girl one even wanted her photo taken with me. True story.

I went to another butterfly farm

People often ask me: “Sharon, if you are afraid of butterflies why would you go to a butterfly farm?” The answer is simple: Same reason you go watch scary movies. Except in my case, the threat is real! 

I went with Kayleigh and while she was holding two strangely placid butterflies we learnt some interesting things. We had noticed this one butterfly walking funny and when we asked the guy that worked there what they ate, he said that their mouths weren’t strong enough to eat a ripe banana so they ate a rotten banana which was fermenting. I don’t know if this is true of other butterflies and other foods, but basically, the butterflies were drunk! No wonder they’re so erratic and terrifyingly unpredictable! It all makes sense now. 

Then he asked me this chilling question (If it doesn’t make your skin crawl I don’t know what will):
“Would you like to hold a chrysalis?

Um… no, I’d literally rather go swimming in horse poo, but thanks. 

That's right Rodrigo, you keep a safe distance from that freaky thing

Relaxing in the beautiful butterfly-filled surrounding

Well, definitely one of the lightest drunks to pass out on Kayleigh's arm

14.5 Cruises down, 16.5 to go
Ponies ridden since last blog = 1

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