Paniolo Version of the Marlboro Man
Imagine the Marlboro Man, sitting on his horse, dressed in denim from head to toe, with a sweat stained straw cowboy hat covering a mop of hair and well worn cowboy boots jammed, heels down, in the stirrups. Add a pair of dangly spurs to the boots and take away the cigarettes and you have yourself a paniolo cowboy.
Paniolo Horseback Riding Vacation
Our paniolo for the morning was Gary Siemens, a Paniolo Adventures wrangler from Waikii, originally from Kansas, recently transplanted from Wyoming. Like cattle on an open range, cowboys tend to move around a lot.
With an easy smile and quiet way around the horses, Siemens put our group of three cowgirls at ease immediately. I’ll admit that I winced when I learned that my friend and I, both experienced equestrians, were paired with a novice rider. I had been recommended to Paniolo Adventures due to the fact that the rides were not nose to tail horseback riding vacations.
I asked Siemens if we would be able to trot and lope on the trail, as the brochure stated and he gave me a typical cowboy answer, “we’ll see.”
Ponoholo Ranch Horseback Riding Vacation
With 30 horses on the ranch, Paniolo Adventures leases 40 acres and has horseback riding access to 11,000 acres of the Ponoholo Ranch, a working cattle ranch, formerly part of the Parker Ranch. My ride this morning was Kohala, a 12 year old Friesian Quarter horse cross. She was slow to start, but perked up as our two and a half hour Paniolo horseback riding vacation progressed.
Starting at 3,000 feet elevation, our horseback riding vacation offered views of the Kohala and Kona coastline, Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa and Hualalai Volcanos on the Big Island and Maui’s Haleakala Volcano. We rode our horses on wide open expanses and discovered ancient Hawaiian rock walls. It is easy to imagine that King Kamehameha once trained his warriors on these fields.
Dress Like a Paniolo on your Horseback Riding Vacation
If you are like me, and prefer to carry on your luggage, you won’t want to bring boots or a helmet on your horseback riding vacation. Paniolo Adventures will outfit you with cowboy boots, riding helmet and duster – that’s cowboy for rain coat.
Insider Tip: The four hour Wrangler Ride is ideal for experienced equitrekkers. Novice riders will enjoy the one hour walking only “City Slicker Ride.” There is also a three hour picnic ride and a one and a half hour sunset trail ride offered.
Paniolo Guest Cottage for your Horseback Riding Vacation
Owner Bob Hendrickson and his wife, Dazzle, offer a Paniolo guest cottage nearby to Hawi and Kapaau. A three night stay in this queen bed cottage, complete with Jacuzzi bath and kitchenette, will land you two additional trail rides on your horseback riding vacation. No horseback riding is necessary if you rent the Paniolo guest cottage for a six night minimum stay.
What are your favorite things to do in Kapaau, Hawaii?