CITRUS PARK — Just south of Westfield Citrus Park Mall is a 300-acre horse ranch where families can enjoy horseback riding through beautiful natural Florida habitat seven days a week. Dubbed “In the Breeze Ranch,” the ranch’s 40-plus horses are so well-trained that experience in the saddle is not required, according to Samantha Slack, ranch manager.
“First timers get complete instruction on how to ride from a certified guide before they go out on the trail,” Slack explains. “The guide is with them on the trail to help them out along the way. We have a Nature Trail ride, where the horses walk through the woods and around the lake. Also, we have the Giddy Up and Go ride, where the horses walk, trot and canter at appropriate times. That is our most popular ride, even among beginners.”
For more experienced riders, In The Breeze offers the Advanced Trail ride, where the horses walk, trot, canter and gallop. All of the trail rides last an hour and are led by certified guides.
The trails wind through natural Florida landscape that is covered in lush tranquil woods, a scenic lake and across Rocky Creek, which winds through the property. A variety of wildlife are often spotted by riders. The horses were born and raised on In The Breeze Ranch, and are well-mannered on the trail and very affectionate toward humans.
While horseback riding at In The Breeze Ranch is an ideal way for families to experience nature up close, couples enjoy the trail rides as well, especially the Moonlit Ride.
“We do the Moonlit Rides on Friday and Saturday nights and wrap up the evening with a bonfire,” Slack says. “It’s the same trail, but at night it’s a different experience that most places don’t offer. It’s a one-hour ride, and the bonfire adds a nice touch. Folks can stay at the bonfire for as long as they like.”
In The Breeze Ranch was opened as a nonprofit business by Lynda Fowler, a retired Hillsborough County Deputy Sheriff, who wanted to give underprivileged children a positive experience during the summer. The ranch offers a camp on days when there is no school (except weekends) during the school year, and throughout the summer. The camp is open to all children ages 5 to 17, and there is no charge for children who meet certain criteria.
“They can sign up for a day or a week,” Slack explains. “We have a two-week program where campers can get certified in horsemanship, from beginner to intermediate. They learn how to take care of a horse, as well as how to ride.”
Located at the eastern end of Gardner Road, In The Breeze Ranch also offers birthday and corporate parties for up to 500 guests, hayrides and riding lessons for all ages.
To learn more or make reservations, visit www .inthebreezeranch.com, or call (813) 264-1919.