Rancho Notorious is a nice ranch. It was fun and western looking with Roosters crowing and baby chicks skittering about.
Stephen picked my group up from the Westin. 5 of us total from the 40's down to age 12. We opted for a 2 hour ride because I wanted to be able to gallop.
Horses were chosen for us mostly based on experience. Shannon was our tour guide leader, but Stephen came along too. We ended up with 7 in our group. (plus the 2 guides)
The day was somewhat cloudy, so the heat wasn't too bad, and we took the early 9 am guided tour.
I realize that the horses are of a different breed in Aruba, but what with the rocky terrain and small frame of the horse, I felt like my horse was struggling to stay up right. It was unnerving. (I am not a large woman). So we walk and walk and walk, and it's all desert and cactus. Which is fine, as this is the terrain, but kinda boring and very Arizona like.
Thank goodness for Shannon as she was very personable and easy to talk with. But I'm not sure if the people in the back could even remotely hear her. Hopefully Stephen was talking with them.
Loved when we came upon all of the "wishing rocks" because my friends had not seen any yet, and it's a cool and unique part of Aruba. Also the turquoise waters crashing along the cliffs was amazing.
I finally asked about galloping the horses and Shannon seemed very reluctant to allow it, but the entire group was wanting to do it, and it was TO gallop that I chose that tour.
So Stephen takes 4 of the 7 of us to gallop the horses in the sand, "so it's easier on the horses joints" and we take off. Now, I am not talking a trot here people, (which is what my 22 year old daughter expected) it was a full out canter. Which I personally LOVE and had about 5 full minutes of bliss until my friends 16 year old daughters horse lost it's saddle! We are full out running and that saddle just slips down the side of the horse dropping said daughter in the sand. Thankfully she was unhurt and laughed it off, but her horse was freaking out and spooking the other horses. My daughters horse then starts rearing up as she holds on for dear life. She did a great job controlling her horse, and granted I was laughing, but she had been scared.
The "broken" saddle was dumped in a bush, the horses were rested in a shaded area. The people of the group dismounted to give the horses a break and our guide Shannon left. We thought she went to get a new saddle, but no. I think she had another tour to take out.
It's blazing hot and although I did bring a water bottle, it's now dry. We really could have used more water, or had it provided for a two hour trip like that.
Stephen ended up riding the horse with the missing saddle back to the ranch bareback, and the 16 year old took his stallion. Which she handled very well, I might add.
I liked the ranch and Shannon and Stephen, but I thought the "broken" saddle or "slipped" saddle incident wasn't handled very well. No one was hurt, we laughed a little, but it could have turned out very differently and I felt some concern or apology was in order.
Would I recommend Rancho Notorious? Yes, but maybe not a 2 hour ride, and maybe it's best not to gallop at this place.
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