I've gone riding with Dart Stables twice and I went for the Ride of the Rings both times. The first time I sat on Murphy and my boyfriend was on Borris. Our group had about 10-12 people in total and my boyfriend was the only guy. His horse was right in front of me and Borris tried to bite my horse TWICE. Yes, his head actually turned around and I had a good look at his teeth trying to snap Murphy.
What was upsetting was that the tour guides didn't show any concern and didn't bother to do anything about it. There was a nice and friendly female tour guide (don't remember their names) and she was at the front of the group; the other tour guide was a nasty girl who didn't seem to care that I screamed really loudly when Borris tried to bite my horse and my horse had to jump out of the way and out of the line formation. Another girl in our group even told me that she was trying to stay far away from my boyfriend's horse. I seriously don't understand why they would put Borris in front of Murphy if he obviously doesn't like him. We made this booking as a couple and it sucked to be on constantly high alert if Borris was going to turn around and bite Murphy. The tour guides didn't try to rectify the situation or give any advice, they just pretended like nothing was going on.
I felt so sorry for my poor boyfriend, that was his first time riding and they gave him a horse that just wouldn't obey. Even after my boyfriend pulled hard at the reins and followed the proper instructions, that horse would just not listen to him. The horse would randomly walk off (even after he pulled the reins), eat grass whenever he wanted (even after my boyfriend gave a slight kick), etc.
We stopped at a scenic point to take photos and after the tour guide took a photo of my boyfriend and I with my camera, my boyfriend asked her to take a photo with his camera and he dropped his camera cover on the ground by accident. The nasty tour guide got all annoyed and started complaining that she would have to get off her horse again and why didn't we give her our cameras at the same time? Wow, nice attitude. Oh, and the nicer tour guide was in our photo because the moment she walked off, Borris would walk off as well and would not stand still for the photo.
The second time I came was with my parents and my mother is a first timer and was rather nervous at riding. The tour guide put her in front as there were only 4 of us this time and her horse was pretty tame. Guess what, I got Murphy as my horse again (no complaints there, he was a nice horse) and my dad got Borris. I got so annoyed and told the tour guide my previous experience. They said that they could go get another horse but we would have to wait for approx 30mins since The Ride of the Rings was a little out of the way and they would have to go back to the main stable. My dad didn't want to waste time and went ahead with Borris. The good thing was that my dad has ridden before and when Borris tried to turn around to bite Murphy, my dad pulled the reins back REALLY hard and that helped. So if a girl sat on Borris and didn't have enough strength to pull the reins really hard, will Borris behave like a psycho again?
Complaints aside, the views were amazing and I loved the scenery. I went during winter and spring and I definitely prefer the winter look. Snow capped mountains, frozen lakes and seeing the grass covered in ice was breathtaking. I'm a big fan of LOTR so I loved this trek during winter. Take note that it was below freezing during winter and even with thick thermal socks, my toes were freezing in their boots. It is rather pricey but the views are one of a kind.
That said, the attitude of some of the staff seriously need to be improved and I think safety can be improved in terms of the type of horses selected to go on certain treks. My boyfriend is still scarred by his experience with Borris whereas I had a good time with Murphy. It really depends on what kind of horse you get.
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