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Sunshine Riding Trails offers thousands of acres of scenery

Updated: Jun. 17, 2021 at 8:30 PM CDT
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CHIPLEY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) -

Getting ready to saddle up and hit the dusty trail can be a little nerve-wracking for people who have never been around horses.

“Eighty percent of the people we have come ride are people who have never ridden before,” said Cecilia Wakeley who works at Sunshine Riding Trails in Chipley.

But Wakeley said you should give it a try anyway.

“Part of our job is to make sure that they’re comfortable when they’re on the horse and before they get on the horse,” said Wakeley. “Some people don’t want to ride and we try to encourage them...you might as well give it a try if you don’t like it you can always get off.”

Wakeley said you won’t regret it.

“Kathy [Rich, the owner] taught me to ride when I was 4 and I’m 18 and I’m doing what I dreamed about,” said Wakeley. “I’m a trail guide now and I love my job and I love getting people their confidence in riding horses and just making people’s day.”

Wakeley’s pretty sure getting on the back on one of their 25 horses would make your day.

“So we have different trails that we do. We have one-hour rides, two-hour rides, and three-hour rides and we also do camping trips,” said Wakeley.

The trips aren’t short on scenery either. Sunshine Riding Trails butts up to water management property which they have permission to use.

“Forty-two thousand acres,” said Wakeley. “That’s a lot of acreage so technically we can ride anywhere.”

Kathy Rich is the owner of Sunshine Riding Trails and told us rain or shine they will ride, with a few exceptions.

“Yea we go in the rain. We do not go in thunder and lightning,” said Rich. “We have gotten caught in thunderstorms but that’s another story.”

We’re told asking a woman how much she weighs is rude. But in this case, it’s necessary for both men and women.

“When people book we ask them their weight and their height,” said Wakeley. “Their weight and their height determines which horse we put them on. We can’t ride over 280 pounds. Some of our horses are shorter, some of them are taller, some of them can carry more weight.”

In case you’re concerned about whether you could actually put your foot in a stirrup and jump up on a horse all by yourself you can rest easy. They have what they call a get-on docking station everyone uses no matter their experience.

But experience doesn’t really matter. Wakeley said anyone can learn to ride.

“We take kids on rides and I’m talking about small children,” said Wakeley. “We take children four and up.”

Rich told us their horses are members of their family. They have individual personalities and are very motivated by treats.

“Kathy’s pretty good with her horses,” said Wakeley. “I’m sure her horses are more well behaved than I am.”

Your ride can be as relaxing or exhilarating as you’d like it to be. They have some horses who like to get up and go and others who aren’t in any particular hurry.

They offer rides all year round, but in the warmer months, they go either early morning or evening to beat the heat.

To get in touch with Sunshine Riding trails you can call 850-773-1900 or go to SunshineTrails@aol.com or check out their Facebook page.

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