Every year we say it and it’s worth repeating again – our hacking horses are simply phenomenal.
Day in, day out, for the past six months, our wonderful horses and ponies have worked like Trojans to give more than 1,000 visitors to the Ranch a day to remember. Yes, you read that right – that’s more than 1,000 hacks. Despite mega-temperatures – and the (very) occasional bad-mannered tourist – every one of our horses have worked with heart and patience, and we are forever in their debt.
Despite the spotlight being on our sports horses in recent months, every horse here is precious to us and we have a brilliant team of honest, hard-working hacking horses that are the envy of the island thanks to them being just as capable of taking care of nervous first-timers as they are at giving experienced riders more boisterous fun.
As ever, Samson, Naggis, Shana, Angelos, Zorro, Spot, Bobby, Mystique, Dillon and Gina all did their magnificent best to give each rider a day to remember, and this year they were ably assisted by new boy Dancer. Occasionally our resident divas – Lilly, Penny, Roxie and Phoebe – were called on to help out, and our fabulous thoroughbred, Elvis, along with our equally fabulous tour guide Shirley, even featured on a US equestrian website.
After a slow start to the tourist season throughout the island, numbers quickly picked up in June and bookings only started to slow down again last week. While we don’t keep records of past numbers, I think it is safe to say we’ve had a bumper year for visitors to the Ranch. We also saw many more nationalities pass through our gates than in recent years including more Finnish, Germans, Danes, Swiss and Israelis.
This was also an interesting year for me because after a number of development projects reached completion, we were finally able to offer more variety in our hacking routes. We also tried out two new initiatives – a Breakfast Hack with juice, fresh fruit and coffee afterwards and a Sunset Hack with a glass of bubbly at the end. I think it’s fair to say that one proved far more popular than the other and, perhaps unsurprisingly, it was the one with alcohol involved. Needless to say, the Sunset Hack will remain one of our featured rides after this year – as will the popular hour-and-a-half hack for experienced riders, which passes the fabulous Cap St George resort towards Yeronisos Island. Over the winter months we will also continue to think up new routes and experiences to ensure every visit to George’s Ranch is a happy one.
Of course, the hacks don’t finish once the nights draw in, but with fewer visitors to the island, the numbers do drop, which gives our superstars of summer time to recharge their batteries, fill their bellies and chill out during the cooler months. The break is something they seem to appreciate, at least for a month or two, but you can tell that they’ve reached their boredom threshold by the time spring comes around as they’re chomping at the bit to get out there again. And with views as spectacular as the ones we’ve got on our doorstep, who can blame them!
In the meantime, as the hacking squad take a back seat, the sports horses start to earn their keep as the competition season hots up. And this weekend our jumping team really did us proud with Jay on Shy Boy, Anfisa on Curra Covers Cruise, Leah on Princess and Imogen on Ludentina all coming home with rosettes after some impressive jumping. However, a special mention must go to Jay and Shy Boy who jumped the competition’s biggest class for the first time proving they are a great partnership in the making.
Not to be outdone, our dressage superstars will also be strutting their stuff in the coming months with some very exciting names from the UK coming to visit in order to lend their expertise to anyone on the island with an interest in improving their riding in this precise and hugely rewarding discipline. As ever, watch this space and our Facebook page for details. Until then – and from my fabulous hacking team – thanks for making it another great summer!