When our cruise ship, Oasis of the Seas, pulled into Prince George Wharf in Nassau, Bahamas, I was headed to the Atlantis Resort to explore the beaches of New Providence. Upon my return from Atlantis, I had time to walk the streets of downtown Nassau in the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, visit the Nassau Straw Market and stop to say hello to a few horses. While I did not have time for a carriage ride through the Bahamas, I did have a chance to speak to a carriage driver and inspect the horses.
There are approximately 20 licensed horse-drawn carriages in downtown Nassau. The horses are kept on another part of the island, but I did not visit the stables and can not vouch for the living environment of the horses on island. I am pleased to say that unlike some places in Mexico, the carriage horses of Nassau each had access to individual waterers and they were all in working order when I checked. Nothing saddens me more than seeing working animals without proper access to food, water and shelter.
The horses of Nassau waited patiently in the shade for the visiting tourist. Parked in front of brightly colored surreys, each horse would take 2-3 guests on a twenty minute horse-drawn carriage tour through the streets of Nassau. To be clear, I did not experience a Nassau carriage ride. My understanding is that the carriage rides pass by Nassau focal points including the Government House, Pompey Museum, Parliament Square, the National Art Gallery, the Queen’s Staircase, as well as the Nassau Straw Market located by the port.
I spoke with one of the Nassau carriage tour drivers and he told me that all drivers are licensed. The horses are lined up by the cruise port with each driver waiting in que for their turn to move to the front of the line. While some visitors will note the horses look lean, in my travels to Lucky Stables on Philipsburg, St. Maarten, I noticed that these island horses were small, as well. The island horses are smaller in stature than the Quarter Horses I’m used to in the United States.
One of the young boys looking after a horse asked me repeatedly if I’d like a carriage ride or my picture taken with a horse. If I had more time on island, I would have liked to take a Nassau carriage tour. Have you taken a horse-drawn carriage during your travels? Do you select your carriage by the look and condition of the horses, the color of the surrey or the price of the carriage ride?
Article and photos by Equine Writer Nancy D. Brown