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Fun Miami Day Trips: Horseback riding at Bar-B-Ranch in Davie

September 07, 2007 By Doug in Miami: Travel News  | 35 Comments

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“There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.”

Winston Churchill was on to something when he penned those lines so long ago.  There’s nothing as soothing to the soul as the relaxingly rhythmic plodding of a horseback ride in the country.  Most visitors to the Miami/Fort Lauderdale area—and residents alike—busy themselves so much with sunning, swimming, sailing and clubbing, they never dream that the best of the west is only a hoofbeat away—in Davie.

With its weekly rodeos, cowpoke personality, and sprawling palm nurseries, offbeat Davie makes a quirky contrast to the urban sophistication of the surrounding area, a fading reminder of a simpler South Florida of not so long ago.  And, when in Davie, there’s no better way to experience its leisurely pleasures than riding high in the saddle at the Bar-B-Ranch (3500 Peaceful Ridge Rd., (954) 424-1060).

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The Bar-B-Ranch, family owned and operated for over 30 years, is the largest and most experienced business of its kind in South Florida.  With an inventory of approximately 35 horses, it occupies a 25 acre spread along the Davie Trail system, adjacent to Flamingo Gardens Park.  In addition to their hour and hour and a half trail rides, they also offer a summer day camp, riding lessons, horse rentals, and an equine therapy program called “Healing Hooves”, run by licensed psychologist Terri Jennings, which provides valuable help to mentally and physically-challenged children and adults. 

One piece of advice, though: Enjoy it while you can! The rural landscape is rapidly changing, as mini-malls and subdivisions invade the landscape.  Ranches like the Bar-B are becoming the last of a dying breed. 

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“Over-development is our greatest threat,” says Jason Hurley, who, with his brother Sam, took the reins from their mother Susan several years ago.  “I remember when Flamingo Road was so small, two dump trucks couldn’t pass each other, and now it’s a six-lane highway!” 

Fortunately, however, the Hurley brothers can thank their lucky horseshoes for one thing: their location. Just a short ride away is Robbins Lodge Park, a 160-acre wilderness preserve packed with green fields, meandering trails, and one of the last remaining tropical hardwood forests in South Florida.  No matter how far the new construction takes over the neighboring pastureland, Robbins Lodge will forever be off limits.

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Another threat that once loomed over the horse-riding world was the rising expense of liability insurance.  Man vs. beast, after all, can be the impetus for many a costly lawsuit.  However, in 1993, the state of Florida passed the Equine Activity Statute, which limits the liability of horse owners in case of injury or death caused by their animals.  This law kept many such businesses from extinction.  Certain city municipalities, such as North Miami, require insurance coverage; Davie, however, does not.  Therefore, before you try out any of your Lone Ranger moves, just remember that you do so at your own risk!

RESERVING YOUR HORSEBACK RIDE

To arrange your trail ride, simply phone the ranch a day or so ahead and tell them you’d like to set up an appointment.  No appointments are needed on weekends.  They offer various morning and afternoon excursions.  No credit card numbers or deposits are necessary; in fact, no credit cards are accepted.  Simply give them your name and number and the preferred time of your ride.  We opted for the hour and a half morning session, priced at $45 per person.  Helmets, optional for riders over 18 years of age, are available for rental at an additional $5 each.

Helpful hint: the early bird gets the worm! They tend to fill up during the afternoons and weekends.  Summers are also busy because of the day camp.  But when we reserved our spot for 9:30 the following (Friday) morning, we were the only ones on the schedule, which naturally made for a much more fun and personalized experience.  Morning rides are also cooler, and allow you to escape the daily afternoon downpours so common in South Florida during the hotter months.

DIRECTIONS TO THE BAR-B-RANCH IN DAVIE

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The journey from Miami Beach takes about 45 minutes.  We allowed ourselves an hour, just to be safe.  Fortunately, the traffic on the I-95 was all heading southbound, which made getting there a breeze.  From the 95 North, we merged north unto the Florida Turnpike ($1 toll) for a few more miles, and then took the Griffin Road exit, heading west (you can also take the Griffin Road exit from the 95, but the Turnpike route is shorter).  After a few miles on Griffin Road, you turn right on Flamingo Rd for a short while, until you see the Flamingo Gardens entrance on your right.  Immediately afterwards, take a right on 36th Court, following it to the end, where you make a left unto Peaceful Ridge Rd, a glorified cow-path.  The ranch is the first driveway on your right.
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SADDLING UP YOUR HORSE

After we arrived, we were asked about our level of riding expertise.  I’d ridden extensively as a child, so I listed myself as an intermediate level rider.  My friend Dave was a greenhorn, so he listed himself as a beginner.  We signed the form and were then matched up with our horses.  I got Red River; he was nicely mannered with a little spunk.  Dave was paired with Dakota, a gentle mare who enjoyed having Zen moments along the trail as she stopped to eat the daisies.

Jason Hurley instructed us briefly on the basics of horse operation.  At the Bar-B, they teach a process called Natural Horsemanship, which has been described as “the art of working, training and riding with horses is a manner which works with the horse’s behavior, instincts and personality in an easy and kind manner.”

GOING ON A HORSEBACK RIDE - HI-YO, SILVER! AWAY!

Once Jason had finished his brief lesson, we mounted our steeds and headed out with our guide, Cathy.  Along the way, she told us that she’d first fallen in love with horses as a child.  Growing up in Davie, she began riding at the Bar-B-Ranch as a teen, before becoming an employee about six years ago.  She wouldn’t trade her life in Davie for anything.

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“Davie is a perfect place,” she told us, as we followed behind her on the horse path, along a canal.  Just behind it loomed a dense palm forest, while, to our right, we could see the outer perimeter of Flamingo Gardens.  Jesus lizards, so named because of their predilection for running on water, scurried across our sandy path.

“It’s a country town, but still big enough that there’s always something going on.”

A few twists and turns later, our path soon deposited us into a lush tropical forest, which provided a much-needed respite from the summer South Florida sun. 

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Palm trees, ferns, meandering, ivy-covered oaks, and wild tropical foliage sprung up all around us as we wound our way deeper and deeper into its interior.  Cathy stayed ahead, dutifully clearing the spiderwebs blocking our route.  She explained that these were the greatest annoyances of the early morning ride. 

As we ventured past the colorful tropical plants, listening to the jungle warble of the local birds, it felt like we were in a South American rainforest.  The preconceptions I had of South Florida as a purely swampy, shadeless landscape began to vanish.  The terrain here was high and sandy, our pathway surrounded by sturdy trees that don’t fare so well in marshier conditions. 

Later, we crossed a footbridge and the forest path grew wider.  Below it, a canal stretched back a seeming eternity, catching the glow of the sun.  The water was clear enough that you could see fish swimming around beneath the surface. 

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Coconuts floated in its stillness, resembling small turtles.

“Are there gators in there?” I asked.

Cathy replied that they were rare in this area: the locals make such a fuss about them, whenever they do appear, they’re removed just a few hours later.

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Moments later, crossing under a blooming Poinciana tree, we emerged into a large pasture, bordered by a picturesque white fence.  Here, Cathy asked us if we were comfortable going a little faster.  We both agreed and, after gently pressing our legs into our horses, they began to trot.  Already, this was shaping up to be more exciting than our previous horseback riding experience at a ranch outside Gainesville, where we never made it into third gear.  Trotting can be a bouncy experience.  Cathy told us leaning back helped absorb the bounce, whereas leaning forward is horse talk for going faster.

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We crossed the field, continuing along the path where we encountered a cow pasture.  Longhorn cattle and their offspring gazed curiously our way as a lone donkey began to bray a morning salutation.  We soon passed a newly constructed barn, part of a neighboring farm.  Palm trees rose up in the distance, giving the scene a dissonant feel. 

“That looks weird, seeing palm trees growing next to a barn,” I remarked.  Since Cathy had been a lifelong West Broward County resident, I don’t believe she appreciated my sense of incongruity.  Nonetheless, having grown up on a Louisiana farm, seeming light years away, I was used to pines and deciduous trees; this experience was like Bonanza meets Gilligan’s Island!

Occasionally fellow riders would pass us by.  A woman in a cowboy hat, whom we’d seen earlier at the ranch, was giving lessons to a riding student, another woman, who, clad in a helmet, was nervously clinging to her saddle.

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In the distance, suburban housing was springing up like wild mushrooms where grassy pastures had been just a year before.  I visualized sitting down with my grandkids one day and saying, “I remember when this was all farmland!”

Eventually we emerged into another field—or was it the same one? And this time, Cathy asked us if we’d like to try a canter.  The canter, though faster than the trot, was a smoother, more relaxing experience. 

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All too soon, the ranch came into view once more, and while time here seemed to pass at a slower pace, I was surprised by how quickly it had gone by!

We made our good-byes to Dakota and Red River, who contentedly returned to the stable, where they rejoined their horsey friends.  Thanking our hosts for the wonderful experience, we prepared to make our own return to glittery rush of so-called civilization. 

Dave had a glimmer in his eye.  “Next time I’m riding Red River,” he said.

As the ranch grew smaller in my rearview mirror, I knew this would have to become a habit.

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Related Categories: Miami: Travel News,

Douglas Eames is a freelance writer, homespun philosopher and budget bon vivant who divides his time between Southern California and South Beach.

See more articles by Doug.

See more articles by Doug

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35 Comments on

"Fun Miami Day Trips: Horseback riding at Bar-B-Ranch in Davie"

jorge says:

thanks for the info. found on google search engine.

Posted on 09/18/2007 at 8:09 AM

giancarlo says:

hi my name is Giancarlo, and i love to ride horses, im looking for rent a horse for like an hours just to take a ride over there, i dont need lessons.
i wanna know how much is per hour.
well it will be great if you answer me my mail is   .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Posted on 09/21/2007 at 3:12 PM

Doug says:

Hi giancarlo! The $45 fee I mention above is for riding, and I believe it’s their most basic rate.  For more details, visit their website in the link above or call them. Thanks for stopping by.

Posted on 09/21/2007 at 7:19 PM

keisha says:

hey there,thank you for this information. i have been looking for somewhere me and my daughter can have a mental mini get away. we live in pembroke pines, fl. we hope to chekc yall out this weekend. thank you in advance for your services. God Bless

Posted on 10/04/2007 at 11:18 AM

Doug says:

Hi Keisha, you’re welcome! Let me know how you and your daughter enjoyed yourselves, and let them know that you found out about it here!

Posted on 10/04/2007 at 11:41 AM

Wally says:

Hi i just wanted to know if i can take my own horse and if yes how much in order to ride in your park

Posted on 10/22/2007 at 8:14 PM

Doug says:

Hi Wally,

I just wrote the article and don’t have any connection with the ranch, so you would have to direct your questions to them at the phone number I gave you. Have fun!

Posted on 10/22/2007 at 9:16 PM

Alejandro Quan says:

Alex Quan: We are 2 adults and 2 kids, one is (5) and (3 years, can we ride all together? Please let me know.

Posted on 11/22/2007 at 6:41 PM

Doug says:

Alejandro, again, we have no connection with the ranch.  I just wrote an article about a ride I took there with a friend of mine.  You’ll have to call them at the phone number above if you want information or to book a ride.

Posted on 11/22/2007 at 6:57 PM

alexis says:

we love bar-b ranch we have been there many times its fun and we learn alot about horses and we were wondering if you could rent horses outside of the ranch like by a huge field by our house please let me no if you can answer if not dont worry and I love you rickey, dakota, and gunner,and every other horse there

Posted on 04/03/2008 at 10:47 AM

meghan says:

i love the bar-b-ranch best pony is of coarse going to be shanbow long live shanbow

Posted on 05/18/2008 at 8:41 AM

Christina says:

ha ha i knew this place looked familiar.

man i havnt been there in a while, im Christina not sure if you remember me but i was the one who kept on fropping everything on the trails XD

Posted on 05/25/2008 at 1:11 PM

Talia says:

hey do you do horseback riding on the beach by any chance ?

Posted on 06/01/2008 at 9:36 PM

Doug says:

You mean does the company I wrote about do horseback riding on the beach? I have no connection with them.  They’re located in Davie, which isn’t near the beach, so I doubt that they would schedule rides there.  But you could try their number and ask them to be sure!

Posted on 06/02/2008 at 8:00 AM

nancy says:

it’s funny how you’ve had to tell people like a half a dozen times that you are just the author of the article and not associated with the ranch.wink

hey by the way.. can I make a reservation with you??? lol

Posted on 06/27/2008 at 7:25 PM

Doug says:

Yeah…I think they should hire me as their booking agent!

Posted on 06/27/2008 at 10:01 PM

nancy says:

do people actually read anymore?  Anyway.. thanks very much for the article - I’ve been trying to find a place to take my nephews who will be here on vacation on Monday.. they’ve never been on a horse.. and this looks like the perfect memorable setting for them.wink  thanks very much for sharing the experience.wink

Posted on 06/28/2008 at 3:18 AM

Doug says:

Yes, this would be a great experience for kids, though I’ve had a hard time getting these people to call me back when I’ve left messages.  Hopefully, you’ll have better luck.

Posted on 06/28/2008 at 9:44 AM

Ada says:

My daughter will turn 9 and has been wanting to go horseback riding. Is this a good place to visit?

Posted on 07/04/2008 at 11:50 AM

Doug says:

Hi Ada, I would say so, yes.

Posted on 07/04/2008 at 12:23 PM

Herb GArcia says:

Hello everyone.  My name is Vanessa Garcia.  I work at American Horse Trails, and would like to share are bussiness with everyone.  We are a family who runs a Horseback Riding Service.  We provide private trails, and private lessons.  If you are in the the florida area and would like to go horseback riding please feel free to contact us at http://www.americanhorsetrails.us or 954 680-8888.  Tahnk you for your time and interest.  Hope to here from you all soon.

          Vanessa

Posted on 07/27/2008 at 10:20 AM

sharon says:

i love this ranch. and my favorite horse is roany he is so handsome.

Posted on 04/19/2009 at 1:31 PM

natalie says:

From homestead how long would it take to get to davie.

Posted on 09/28/2009 at 12:00 PM

Doug says:

Hi Natalie, taking the Turnpike, you’re looking at a distance of about 56 miles.  Assuming traffic is normal, that would take about an hour.

Posted on 09/28/2009 at 12:28 PM

alexis says:

hey!! i rode at bar-b ranch before and i love the trails!! the horses just like to bite eachother and i really dont like that… do you think you coujld try to get the ones that like each other?

Posted on 01/21/2010 at 9:52 PM

doris says:

hi this will be our first visit to miami fl my parents were wanting to go horseback riding do you pick up from the hotels inmiami beach?

Posted on 09/03/2010 at 12:20 PM

Luis says:

Hi every bodies, only I want to know if there is a special price for a 8 family members. Thanks

Posted on 03/18/2011 at 10:51 AM

Vincent says:

My wife brought my daughter and 4 friends for a birthday outing today; my daughter is turning 10.  My wife called about 3 weeks ago to see if a reservation was required.  We were advised to just show up at 8:30.  We showed up at 8:37 and was told that since we were late that we could not joint the day camp.  We were never told that in order to join the camp we needed to be there on time or we would be excluded.  The owner just turned us away without any type of compromise.  Heartless management.

Posted on 10/22/2011 at 2:11 PM

Doug says:

Vincent, thanks for your feedback.  It’s funny, they aren’t the friendliest group of people.  I had to call them back a couple of times when I was putting this story together and they didn’t return phone calls and were very curt on the phone.  With all this free publicity, you’d think they’d be more pleasant.

Posted on 10/22/2011 at 3:02 PM

rose says:

its not a $45 fee its a $50 fee.

Posted on 11/19/2011 at 8:41 AM

rose says:

you left out the best horse there rascal i love rascal.

Posted on 11/19/2011 at 8:44 AM

Chris Keating says:

Hey guys!  Are you open Christmas day by chance?  If so, are there any specials?

Thanks!!

Posted on 12/21/2012 at 11:16 PM

Gus says:

Hi Chris,

I called BB Ranch and they won’t be open on Christmas day. However, they will be open the day after.

Happy Holidays,

Gus

Posted on 12/22/2012 at 1:19 PM

Christeen Thornton says:

Good morning I have been looking for a place for my daughter to ride a horse she has rode before like at a kiddie farm but wants to do like a trail ride can you let my know a little more about this she will be 12 yrs old on April 8 we would like to come that afternoon if possible thank you

Posted on 04/01/2013 at 8:56 AM

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