Silver Falls Ranch is a truly wonderful place to take your family for an enjoyable nature experience. The combination of the great staff, the beautiful surroundings, and the fun ride make it unforgettable.
Before you start, your guides go over basic riding instructions. Very useful, and simple enough for even first timers to grasp. (I've ridden horses for probably less than 20 total hours in my entire life, so I definitely benefited from the rookie training.) Afterwards, you're assigned a horse, they help you get mounted, and off you go!
We chose the Waterfalls ride, which takes you to a private waterfall/waterhole. The path is actually a wide dirt trail, basically a dirt road, that takes you all over the property.. (I mention this because a few people thought the trail would involve bravely hacking through tall grass and mountains through Kauai backcountry. Not the case.) Lots of beautiful scenery and nature.
Eventually you are led to the Falls, which is a rocky river outcropping that isn't big but is still postcard material. Guests dismount and are invited to go for a swim. (The cool thing about this: when you first check in, you can leave your backpacks and swimgear in a bin by the office, and by the time you arrive at the Falls, that bin has been transported there and your stuff is waiting for you. That way you don't have to carry it while on the horse.) You get changed in the little huts, go for a swim, and come back to a small picnic lunch waiting for you. Very refreshing! After lunch, you mount up again and take the short route back to the stables to end your journey.
Our guide, Kai, was super awesome, informative, and entertaining. She took very good care of our entire group (which was admirable, as everyone else except for myself had never been on a horse!) I loved my horse, a big gentle giant named Henanu that was super easy to ride. All of the other horses in our group seemed super mellow too.
I read some of the reviews below of people having bad experiences on their horses (being thrown off, etc), and nothing they described seemed to match what I saw. Here is something I witnessed, which might be similar logic for some of those bad reviews:
At one point on the trail, we go up a bumpy incline. The horse has to adjust and might take a crooked route to keep good balance. Directly in front of me, a fairly heavy woman decided this was a good time to let go of her reigns, turn around and take a picture of our group while on the incline. As she swung around to take the picture, her momentum forced her horse to side-step to keep its balance on the incline, it caught the woman by surprise and she almost slid off. She then told the guide later "The horse tried to buck me!" She failed to mention that she wasn't holding on, was turning all the way around in the saddle, the horse didn't actually buck, and she slid off, was not thrown off. Basically, inexperienced riders doing stupid things and then blaming the horse.
I will forewarn guests with a lot of riding experience- if you go with a beginner group like mine, you will be riding SLOW. I have only limited riding experience, and it was slow even for me. It was also clear my horse preferred to walk a little faster, we were going even slower than his preferred slow-walking speed. Our guide told me some of the horses don't prefer to walk as slow as we went.
Personally, I only have one complaint: the helmets. They STINK. They smell like 1000 tourists were sweating in them while hiking through a jungle. Which is exactly what they are. They provide Lysol, but that doesn't help, and you can smell them as you ride. Maybe some disposable liners of some sort are in order?
Overall though, the experience was absolutely wonderful. I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to ride horses while in Kauai. It's family friendly, it's safe, and just a wonderful experience!
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