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“overrated but unique”
Review of Spirit of the West

Spirit of the West
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Owner description: One of the most unique ways to experience Grand Cayman! Trek along the edge of the Caribbean Sea atop one of our magnificent beauties! Enjoy a lazy walk as the surf rolls in and out at the feet of your horse. For the more adventurous, feel the wind in your hair as you canter along the white sand beach. Try something completely out of the ordinary with the swim ride - hold on tight as your horse is steered into the cool and refreshing waters of the Caribbean for a wonderful swim.The true romantics can see the softer side of Cayman with the moonlit ride during the full moon. Guided only by the natural instincts of your horse, enjoy the peaceful nirvana of paradise where the modern world is far and away!Whatever your choice, Spirit of the West delivers premium service with true Caymanian hospitality. Each ride is an experience of a lifetime and every rider feels like they have done something they will never forget!
Useful Information: Activities for young children, Activities for older children
Reviewed March 28, 2013

family of four did combination ocean swim and beach ride this march

pros-

-they provide free transportation for your tour


-beautiful setting in national park

-well trained horses

-unique chance to go into the ocean on horseback

-great chance for stunning photos



cons

-guide did not interact with our party.she barely spoke to us.

-not even water was provided -we were lucky we brought our own -it is hot and sunny on the beach

-no free pictures -they have a photographer that will shoot some pictures for you at 40 dollars more for the cd of pictures--at 750 dollars for our private ride for four I would have thought this would be included or at least a bottle of water

-the ride into the ocean is great but is very brief- at no point are you actually swimming but your horse is neck high in the ocean and you are waist deep in the ocean while on horseback which is pretty cool.

tips

-we brought a waterproof camera and took some great shots of our tour
-bring your own water
-wear sunscreen

-if you are willing to spend the money this is a unique horseride.

we wished the water ride was longer and that our guide was a little more friendly

would still recommend tour if you are ok with the price

2  Thank desslock
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SOTW, Owner at Spirit of the West, responded to this reviewResponded March 29, 2013

We are sorry this family did not feel the experience was as awesome as most. The great thing about a review site like TripAdvisor is that the ratings come from a diverse and unrelated source of people from all over the world. To say our rides are overrated would be to suggest that the majority of our reviewers (5 star) didn't rate us properly. We find that difficult to accept given the # of reviews that we have of that calibre.

We genuinely appreciate the reviewers honest assessment, weighing pros and cons - the pros speak for themselves, so no need to expound on them. We do, however, need to clarify some points on the cons (of course!) so that anyone reading this is completely informed of how we do business. Another plus of a review website like this - we get to explain misgivings or misunderstandings right here under the review!

Con #1 - Very little interaction from the guide. This was a private tour. We treat these a little differently from a standard group ride. People who choose this tour go with it for a few reasons: the quietude, peacefulness and privacy of having no one else on the tour. Or they choose it so that they can unleash their experienced riding skills or because they have no riding skills. On a private tour we step back a little and let the riders enjoy their privacy. We don't ask riders WHY they chose the private tour but give them the respect of being a little more...private. Additionally, our guides gauge the attitude and personalities of the riders within the first little while to see how involved they are in conversation. After a few questions, you can determine from the responses if they want to keep talking or just enjoy the ride in quiet. It's not a perfect science, but the alternative (a chatty, nosy, invasive guide) would get us much worse reviews. Sometimes the riders don't stop talking - easy for us to see what they want. Sometimes they answer in one word response...do we keep pushing or let go? We do our best to figure you out - apologies if we get it wrong on occasion.

Con #2 - Water. I think this reviewer may have mentioned this on the tour as it was brought up in our staff meeting this week. If so, thanks for the feedback! We are now stocking water on every ride. It wasn't an oversight on our part. Long ago we used to bring drinks and found that most riders brought their own. So we stopped. It's not a problem to add it back in.

Con #3 - Pictures. This one upset us. From all previous reviews you will see that we are DILIGENT about taking photos (with the riders' permission). With your camera. For free. That has been a MUST on our rides. Our guides are instructed on how to do it and where to do it. No exceptions. Recently a freelance photographer started taking photos on the beach at a cost. We have insisted that he explain that he is not affiliated with us and detail what he does. We have also insisted that the guides advise the riders that it is THEIR choice to pay him. We still take photos with your cameras. If this was not made absolutely clear, we apologize and will speak with the photographer immediately. We appreciate that riders are paying hard earned dollars to ride with us and we do everything we can to give them good value for their money. Anything less than that is not ok.

Con #4 - Swimming. The swim portion is about 15-20 minutes. That is made clear on our website and within our confirmation and info packs. Depending on the wave action, we have to adjust where the horses go in the water and how deep we can take them. If it's too rough, the swim tour is downgraded to a beach-only ride. It's a bummer, but safety of horse and rider is never a question. Sometimes the water is smooth and perfect, sometimes not. That determines how we do the swim. At no time are the riders themselves actually swimming. That is also explained in our collateral. You are always on the horse's back (unless you slip off) and it is the horse who swims. We go out to 6-7' of water in some areas, between shallower banks. The horses cannot swim with a rider in deep sea for 20 minutes. They'll drown. We'll make sure our guides explain this in more detail before a ride.

Tips - Appreciation to the reviewer for adding their tips - of which we agree. These are things we recommend in our info pack upon confirmation of the reservation. We always suggest riders go to our website for more information before making a reservation and email us with any questions.

To be informed is to be prepared.

Chelsea Rivers
Owner
Spirit of the West

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a ReviewReviews (549)
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"private ride"
in 52 reviews
"sea swim"
in 18 reviews
"horseback riding"
in 38 reviews
"caribbean sea"
in 20 reviews
"group ride"
in 11 reviews
"grand cayman"
in 90 reviews
"wonderful guide"
in 9 reviews
"swim ride"
in 23 reviews
"experienced riders"
in 19 reviews
"beautiful horses"
in 13 reviews
"amazing ride"
in 7 reviews
"unique experience"
in 21 reviews
"dream come true"
in 16 reviews
"starting point"
in 6 reviews
"took pictures"
in 15 reviews
"well taken care"
in 15 reviews
"bucket list"
in 14 reviews
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332 - 336 of 549 reviews

Reviewed March 24, 2013

I booked a private beach ride for myself and my boyfriend on our recent visit to Cayman. I booked online and received a speedy confirmation with a list of what to wear, good directions, and my confirmation. Our guide, Ashley, met us on time and was very polite and fun. I really appreciated her honesty about places to visit on the Island, and she seemed interested in hearing about our trip thus far. At the 1/2 point she stopped to take pictures of my boyfriend and I, which turned out great. The views were amazing. We did a tour on a beach that is unspoiled. This tour exceeded our expectations.

Thank Rebekah679
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 22, 2013

The private tour was awesome! We were able to ride at own pace and then go bare back in the ocean as well. Very cool.

1  Thank BobA917
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 21, 2013

My husband and I booked a group ride and swim excursion while in port on our cruise in Feb 2013. What an amazing experience! It was definitely one of the top highlights of our trip. We were picked up promptly at our scheduled time and joined 4 other people for the ride. When you book the excursion, the information packet tells you to bring long pants. It was extremely hot that day so we didn’t listen and packed pants in my beach bag just in case. Glad we didn’t wear them because they were not necessary at all! I rode in a bathing suit and cover-up just fine. Wear what you will be comfortable in because it will be warm and there is little shade so be sure to wear sunscreen. Our guides were very friendly and did a good job arranging us and pairing us with horses based on our skill level. This was my husband’s first time on a horse and he has no issues. We were taken to a preserved area of the island for the ride and WOW was it beautiful. Grand Cayman is so commercial that is was nice to be surrounded by nature. There was not one building in site. Our guides asked us when we had to be back on board and timed the ride accordingly. We were lucky to be able to ride a little further than I think is standard. When it was time for the swim we dismounted so that the guides could unsaddle the horses so that we could ride them bareback into the water. This was a first for me and a little scary as it was difficult to balance at first but the guides provided great instruction and made sure we felt secure. Riding the horses into the water (all the way up to their necks) was one of the coolest moments I have ever experienced. As we rode back to shore our guides encouraged us to urge the horses to go faster if we wanted to which was a lot of fun. The horses were then re-saddled and we rode back to the start. Our guide also stopped and took individual pictures of us all with our own cameras which was nice. We cut it pretty close with being back to the ship on time but their driver was great and made sure we didn’t miss the boat. We had such a wonderful time and would definitely recommend Spirit of the West. If I could do it over again I would actually spend a little more and upgrade to the private ride. Although it in no way felt crowded with only 6 people, I think we would have been more able to go at our own pace if it were just the two of us. Regardless of the option you choose you will have a great time!

3  Thank ceraz23
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed March 11, 2013

I would do the ocean swim again in a heartbeat.

This was a phenomenal experience to ride in the beautiful blue waters with equines. ( I would only say that this trip would have been a dream come true if I had been with my own horse, but she could not travel with me to Grand Cayman.) I absolutely recommend the ocean swim option.

We rode out in western saddles to the swim site, and I wore shorts and a t-shirt: with swim suit underneath. I had a fanny pack with waterproof camera, but the other riders with me took full beach bags (simply jung off saddle horn) and iphones. The guide obliged us with taking photos of us on the horses on the beach and in the water, so you will want to have your own camera of some sort.

I did the group ride ($125 per person, US dollars) with Telicia as our guide. She was a kind, considerate horsewoman: she will to chat or not as dictated by the riders in the group. The ride out to the swim site was in saddles, at a walk, but under the tree the saddles came off and we went out into the sea bareback! AWESOME. We got to trot in the water and even swim in some spots. The horses were happy, calm and very sure footed. The ride back was fun because we were able to canter. Some of the members of my group were novices, so they weren't very horse savvy (one rider didn't know how to pull her horse up to a slower pace) but the horses did not ever misbehave or take advantage of their lack of knowledge even at the canter. These horses are very kind, very sweet and they seem to be very content. No need to fear for their well-being at all.

My party was late picking me up (we rented a car and I got dropped off at the ride site) and Paul was very considerate with me when they didn't return for me on time: he even brought me something to eat and drink while I waited to be picked up. He was incredibly kind and courteous, and that is how he treats his horses. His interest in their training and mental well-being is obvious.

I will say that anyone from beginners to savvy horse people will truly enjoy this experience in the gorgeous waters of the Barkers Beach National Park. If only I could do this every day on my vacation here in the Grand Cayman. I highly recommend!

6  Thank Magiagirl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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