I cannot stop raving about the incredible experience we had at Black Prong Equestrian Village. I was introduced to this facility through John's work. He co-owns a custom tiny home builder with his family (Movable Roots) and they had previously built a few units for Black Prong. John kept talking about how cool it was and that he needed to take me. So as a surprise for Christmas, he booked a week long stay for us and the horses! (We had previously stayed in one of the tiny homes over the summer when we visited Ocala for our "Baby Moon" but didn't stay in one of the cottages or bring the horses.) I personally have no affiliation with Black Prong and they're not asking me to write this blog, I just had such an incredible experience I think that any horse person needs to take a trip up there if they have the opportunity. It is literally a horse girls dream!
Day 1 (Friday, December 23rd)
Today was our big travel day from Lake Worth to Bronson, FL where Black Prong is located! I had been slowly checking things off the list and packing everything leading up to the trip. When you're taking your infant and 2 horses, it is quite the extensive list. To get up there, we had planned on hauling the trailer (a 2 horse sundowner) with Johns truck (Ford Raptor). Typically I haul the horses, but we had planned on having John drive so that I could sit in the cab with Charlie. The day prior I had finished packing everything up in the trailer that way in the morning all we had to do was load up the horses and throw the hay in the back of the truck. So this morning we wake up, I take care of Charlie and then leave him at the house. We had Gracie, our babysitter, come over in the morning that way she could be with Charlie as John finished packing up what he needed to and dropping off our dog Patty at the kennel. I head over to the barn and toss a couple bales of hay in the bed and then hook up the trailer. I drove over to pick up John and Charlie at the house and then off we went! It was about a 4 hour drive, not including any stops we made. Our plan was to haul straight through unless we needed to stop for a pee break because that would be easiest on the horses. If I recall, I think we stopped once and it took us a bit over 5 hours to get there with some traffic we hit in Orlando. I packed the horses hay nets full to the brim to help them stay calm over the ride. Mia, my mustang, is a great hauler so I wasn't super worried about her. Scottie, my warmblood, on the other hand can be pretty anxious at times, however I knew since Mia was there it would help him stay calm. I think we ended up getting to Black Prong around 4pm. John took Charlie and started unloading the truck while I took care of the horses. They had turnout paddocks available, but I figured it would be less stressful on them to put them in the stalls at first and let them decompress overnight. So I set up the stalls and unloaded Mia and Scottie. The awesome part about Black Prong is that when you rent one of the cottages, it's attached to the barn- meaning you walk out of your bedroom door and your in the isle. We stayed in the Loblolly Cottage near the arenas. It's literally a horse girls dream. I was honestly impressed at how well behaved both Scottie and Mia over the trip and when we got there. I mean, don't get me wrong, I could tell that they were a bit anxious but I think it made a HUGE difference that they had each other. They're turned out together at home and are a bit of a bonded pair if that helps provide any reference. One thing I was nervous about was the temperature. When we left Wellington that morning the weather was in the 70-80's... and Bronson had a cold front move through that day which plunged the temperatures down into the 20's overnight. Those that know horses realize how drastic of a difference that is and could potentially lead to colic with the added stress of the hauling and environment change. I personally didn't have any complications with my horses- but I think what made the difference was that I chose to blanket them overnight to keep them warmer, keep them stalled to block the wind, gave them extra electrolytes to encourage them to drink water and gave them unlimited hay in their nets and on the floor to keep their digestive systems moving. Once they were settled and I felt as though they were comfortable, we changed and drove the golf cart we had rented over to the clubhouse for dinner at the Black Prong Bar and Grill. It was DELICIOUS. I had a gin and tonic drink that was incredible, not to mention the food and chocolate cake dessert that was out of this world. Their chef came from a top restaurant in New York (if I recall correctly) and you can definitely tell. After dinner we drove back to the cottage, checked on the horses, put Charlie down and started a fire outside of our porch to decompress from the long travel day. We had also gotten to met the couple staying at the cottage next door to us, Joe and Lorraine, who arrived today as well and were staying through the weekend with their two horses!
Day 2 (Saturday, December 24th)
I don't remember exactly what the temperature was waking up on Christmas Eve, but I'm pretty sure it was in the teens and I couldn't feel my fingers! We were up early and I walked out of the patio to be greeted by Mia and Scottie nickering for their breakfast. I dropped them their grain and then walked down some hay and water buckets to the nearby open paddock. They're first come first serve, so there was only one available that was close to the cottage. Black Prong has PLENTY of paddocks available all over the property, I just wanted to be able to keep an eye on them so I chose to put them together in the small turnout that was open. I kept their blankets on and once they were finished with their grain I walked them down to the paddock. They were both feeling QUITE fresh so I decided to just leave them turned out all day and let them have a full day to decompress and take in their surroundings. We also had plans for Hannah and KJ, John's niece and her husband, to drive down and spend the day with us so it worked out great. The horses enjoyed a full day to themselves and we spent some great quality time with family. Matching pajamas and all! Right before the sun went down I brought the horses in for the day, dropped their grain and made sure they had plenty of hay for another cool night.
Day 3 (Sunday, December 25th)
Merry Christmas! Once the horses finished their breakfast I turned them out to the paddock for the day again. Then went back inside where John made us a delicious breakfast and we took turns opening presents in front of the fireplace. We had "A Christmas Story" playing on the TV and it was honestly just a magical morning to celebrate our first Christmas as a family of three! After Charlie went down for a nap, it was time to lace up my boots and go for my first ride at Black Prong. I decided to ride Mia first and leave Scottie in the paddock. Honestly, I was a bit nervous at how the horses were going to act and Mia is typically my steady eddy so I tacked her up and stayed close that way Scottie could still see her. I was very conscious that Scottie tends to get a bit nervous regardless, so I knew if I decided to ride off I would be worried that he might jump the fence to find her. He's been known to be a bit of a trouble maker so I just wanted to play it safe. Mia was a rockstar and we did a short ride in the arena staying in sightline of Scottie the entire time. He did call for her quite a bit, but I expected that. Once we were finished I turned her back out and let them hang out together for a couple hours before taking Scottie out later that afternoon. Around 3pm after lunch I tacked Scottie and decided to explore the property a bit more. I wasn't worried about Mia jumping the fence since she has way more of an independent personality. We rode along the bridle path to the front of the property where the club house is. IT was so much FUN as we trotted along the trails under the Spanish moss and oak trees. An absolute dream. For dinner we did homemade nachos and enjoyed an early night by the fire pit again.
Day 4 (Monday, December 26th)
Monday morning we drove the golf cart over to the Galloping Gourmet for breakfast! This is a food truck thats owned by Black Prong under the same chef as the restaurant. They serve breakfast to lunch and let me tell you, its just as delicious as the grill! Plus they have pastries, cookies and brownies that are out of this world. I ordered the breakfast burrito and John ordered the salmon bowl. We had eaten at this same spot when I was pregnant with Charlie so it was fun to be back and have him with us this time. Afterwards, we headed back to the cottage and then I went off for rides on Mia and Scottie. I rode both of them around the arena and then explored off into the property a bit more. They were still fresh but much more level headed today! Once I finished up the rides we took a family hike around the property in the afternoon. If you enjoy being outside there's so much to do. You could even use the complimentary bikes at the clubhouse but that would have been a bit challenging with us since Charlie was so young so we opted out of that. In the evening we went back to the Bar and Grill for dinner and then ended the day with s'mores by the fire. Simple and perfect.
Day 5 (Tuesday, December 27th)
By the time Tuesday came around I finally felt confident enough with the horses to take them out into the Goethe State Forest! The Black Prong Property line edges right against the forest so you could simply take one of the multiple trail heads out of the gates and you'd be in the forest. The Goethe State forest is a 53,398-acre forest thats primarily used by equestrians, both riders and those on carts. Although you could also easily spend hours hiking or biking the trails too. It was so beautiful and both Mia and Scottie did fantastic. I can't tell you the last time I felt so joyous and smiled so big when I was riding. We cantered along the trails with sunny sky's overhead. It was amazing. On the way back to the cottage I rode them both through the many different cart mazes and challenges that are set up on the property. Black Prong caters to the subgroup of equestrains that enjoy cart driving their horses! They host shows on a regular basis too. There were plenty of drivers also staying at the property so Mia and Scottie got a good kick out of seeing that for the first time! Later that day we decided to make a trip to the World Equestrian Center. It's about a 25 minute drive from Black Prong and another one of my favorite spots. We got to see the reminder of the beautiful holiday lights they had all over the property before the got taken down. Unfortunately, this week was an off week from shows so there weren't any horses on the property but it was still enjoyable to walk around. We had dinner at the Yellow Pony in the Horse Hotel before heading back to Black Prong for another night by the fire.
Day 6 (Wednesday, December 28th)
I woke up this morning and took care of the horses, feeding them breakfast and turning them out to the paddocks then we had breakfast together. Around 11am I went off for a morning ride on Scottie! Black Prong was hosting a carriage driving event today, which was so fun to watch. After watching some rounds Scottie and I rode out into the Goethe State Forest again. Surprisingly he still had a ton of energy after riding evert day this week! John took Charlie for a hike while I was out riding. It was such a beautiful day and we really did get lucky with the weather. Afterwards we got lunch at the Galloping Gourmet where we picked up sandwiches, cider and seltzers. Delicious again. For the afternoon we set up a blanket under the oak trees and put Charlie down for a nap beside us. After Charlie woke up, I went for a sunset trail ride back through the Goethe State Forest on Mia. (Good to note that the gates close at 5pm... almost didn't make it back in time)
Day 7 (Thursday, December 29th)
Our final day at Black Prong was just as amazing as the rest. I rode Scottie back out into the Gothe state forest on a new trail that took us in a big loop. I think we were out there for at least an hour and a half! It was so beautiful and we had so much fun. I almost had to hold Scottie back he was so energetic and ready to gallop along the trails. When I got back we went for lunch at the Galloping Gourmet again where I got another pressed sandwich and John got a bowl! We were blessed with some beautiful weather and it was finally warm enough to hang out by the pool for the afternoon. Black Prong has an incredible clubhouse next to the Bar and Grill complete with a heated swimming pool, hot tub, bathrooms, pool toys and a great gym! Mia and I then went out for one last sunset hack, before we finished up our trip with dinner at the Bar and Grill followed by evening drinks by the fire. If I could go back, I honestly don't think I'd change a single thing about our trip. It actually felt like a vacation. We disconnected from the hustle and bustle, connected as a family, didn't have any set plans and just took each day as it came. It was refreshing and SO much fun.
Some other awesome things to note about Black Prong- they're dog friendly! Although we chose not to bring Patty this time (we decided it would have been a bit too stressful for her and everyone since we had the baby and two horses), you could book a stay and bring your pup with you. A couple staying in a cottage close to ours visits often and they hike the trails with their dogs! Honestly, there's so many great outdoor activities to do at Black Prong both on the property and off property- wether you're a horse person or not! The staff are also just incredible and extremely helpful. I know this sounds like a paid advertisement with how much I'm raving about our stay but I promise its not. We just had such an incredible time and it was just a horse girls dream vacation. I can't wait to go back! If you have any additional questions or I forgot to cover something, feel free to send me an email or comment below!