Grand Bahama News

It’s no ‘mare’ feat

Pinetree Stables is swinging its gates wide open for Grand Bahamians to roam, know their history, enjoy the ambience, and meet its horses. 

Located off Beachway Drive in Freeport, Pinetree Stables is a hidden gem surrounded by schools and brush.

Initially built as a polo club in the 1950s, it was a favorite among high-profile frequenters such as King Charles III, when he was the Prince of Wales, and a preferred training ground for racehorses from Nassau’s Hobby Horse Hall Racetrack in the 1970s.

Pinetree now provides award-winning horseback eco-tours introducing tourists to the history, culture and nature of Grand Bahama, and was recently recognized with the 2022 TripAdvisor Choice Award for ranking first in the top 10 tours in the world.

Despite the international attention and its location, Pinetree Stable owner Linda Buchanan said she has found Grand Bahamians to be unaware of its existence.

“So many children on this island have never seen a horse in real life,” Buchanan said.  

From age three, Buchanan has had a deep passion for horses, which led her to pursue equine studies, learn horse psychology, become a certified riding coach, and breed horses of Olympic standards. 

She said there are numerous developmental benefits when working with horses. 

Buchanan said horses require a gentle hand which forces riders or anyone who works with them to regulate their emotions and learn how others communicate.

“You’re not going to get in a fight with a horse,” she joked.

“The more you understand horses, the better you will be with humans. Their language is micro expressions; everything means something.”

She added that horsemanship can be therapeutic.

“When you’re on the trail, the horses evoke an emotional response in people,” Buchanan said.

“I’ve ridden with a person behind me who has only met me for 30 minutes. They will give me their entire life story, their issues, and their problems. It’s phenomenal.”

Also, as a seasoned riding instructor, she described the common traits her students develop, noting their rising confidence, their willingness to lead, and the audacity to follow their passions.

Member of Parliament for Central Grand Bahama Iram Lewis, still mourning the loss of his son, Tavarius, experienced the transformation firsthand.

“He had a passion for it even since he was a year old,” he recalled.

“I remember him opening horse riding shows in Alabama. He was into rodeos, bull riding. It was his life.”

Lewis’ son’s ambition led him to enroll at the University of West Alabama to pursue equine and environmental sciences.

“Just months before he passed, he was getting in touch with federal agencies,” Lewis said.

“I had a friend in Atlanta helping him acquire a large parcel of land to start a boys camp to empower kids and horseback riding was a major part of that.”

Lewis noted his son’s passing dealt a crushing blow to his daughter. However, through her own work with animals, Imari was able to cope and soothe her grief, he said.

“In his honor, I want to carry on proving that Bahamians have other avenues to both heal and thrive in,” Lewis added.

As a past minister of youth, sports and culture, Lewis has noticed that vocational education is receiving less attention on Grand Bahama and believes that the introduction of horsemanship could lend to a shift in educational practices.

“Our school curriculum needs to be adjusted to suit our society,” he said.

“We are talking about the green economy. But are we pushing them in that direction? Are we encouraging them to become fishers, farmers, getting involved with livestock?”

In an effort to draw attention to horsemanship, Buchanan and Lewis are promoting the new Pine Tree Stables program, “An Introduction to Horses”.

For an hour, students can learn about the stable, horse rearing, various breeds of horses, and different horseback riding techniques. 

Students will also be taught the Vaquero technique which includes aspiring equestrians developing connections to their horses by understanding how they think and communicate.

Buchanan and Lewis note that they have been developing avenues for businesses, schools and government to assist, so that all Grand Bahamian children can attend the program.

Buchanan explained that businesses may sponsor group trips while the government can provide transportation from various schools to the stable.

Lewis said he has begun speaking with the Ministry of Education to propose visiting the stable as a regular school year activity.

“We need to be made aware,” he said.

“We have jewels right in our presence; you have diamonds right there. This is something that you can utilize to make yourself better.

“The owners of the Pine Tree Stables are passionate. If we empower them, we empower our community.”

Pinetree Stables is a full equine service offering boarding, horsemanship training, horse leasing, and breeding services.

Horseback riding lessons are offered to all levels of riders from beginner to advanced.

Locals are also welcomed to enjoy the stables’ eco-tours.

If you wish to book a lesson, offer a sponsorship, or inquire about their services, contact Linda Buchanan at (242) 727-0089.

You can follow the stables online via Facebook at Pinetree Stables Fan Club.

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