Richmond Vale Academy

Richmond Travel Blog

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After my hour and a half ride on windy and hilly roads from Kingstown, down the Leeward side of the island, Raymond showed me into the Hiking Center. While the outside is not very impressive, I loved the raw concrete floors and openness of the central gathering area. As I was really taken with the lighting throughout the buildings, I ended up taking several photos inside the maze of a structure.

The Hiking Center is primarily a preparatory school for a volunteer program which sends teams to Africa, Central and South America to help fight poverty. They offer food, lodging, and guided hikes for people like myself to create income for the non-profit program. They also have about fifteen employees who farm bananas, passion fruit (they sell a fabulous passion fruit juice) and other fruit.

If you are interested in finding out more about the program you can go to their website at

I was greeted by the most adorable twenty something girl who introduced herself as Carole. She is a tiny thing, with big dark eyes and black curly hair who spoke very little English and apologized up front, though I wasn’t bothered in the least. Carole led me to my room and I was pleasantly surprised at what a nice ensemble I saw when I opened the door. At only twenty-five US dollars per night it is a great bargain. The center is very tidy and clean. The bathroom and showers were down the hall, and the only drawback was that there is no hot water.

After putting my things in my room, I headed back to the main area where I was greeted enthusiastically by Stina, who quickly whisked me away to meet her horses.

I was so taken with the amazing views around the school. I snapped a few pictures as we headed out down the road to the horses field. As we walked passed the seven acres of banana trees full of bananas after I had made a single purchase in Kingstown of, well… bananas, I thought maybe next time I would buy something a bit less abundant! We came to the gate at the top of the horses field and Stina introduced me to all six. They are all pony size ranging in age from a year and a half to maybe ten or so, thought Stina isn’t sure about some of their ages.

She bought them cheaply about two years ago thinking they could be riding horses for a trail program, but as they had gone native from not being handled for some length of time (and only two had ever been handled and ridden) they quickly��"according to Stina--communicated their displeasure for the plans which had been laid out for them.

Stina had brought over a couple of trainers from Europe to help with the horses, but they stayed only a short time and were running out of patience with the horses’ unwillingness to conform.

After the trainers left, Stina decided to look for alternative training methods for the horses, and ended up talking with a lady by the name of Carolyn Resnick out of California who spent a summer with a herd of wild horses as a child growing up and became inspired to create a training program based on the way horses communicate with each other. Two years later Stina has done a lot of training and ground work with five out of the six, and offers a unique program for people interested in learning about equine body language and basic communicating techniques. She offers hikes with the horses out in the beautiful nature surrounding the school.

She has only ridden two of them a handful of times, but plans to offer riding in the future for people, perhaps with no tack, where you ride among the herd on a set trail.

Franklyn, the schools night time security guard and hiking guide during the day, met us at the horses field to go on our hike. As Stina wanted to show me what she does with the horses, she offered to take me with the horses on a hike, which was nice of her to offer. We set out with two of the horses, Jack, a chestnut gelding who I walked with and Elena, a bay two year old who Franklyn led. We were to hike to Dark View Falls, and even though it was raining, I didn’t care as the scenery was so beautiful.

We were about ten minutes from the falls when we came to the second river crossing. The water was roaring past, and even though we started to cross, Franklin decided it would be too difficult for the horses to make it to the other side as they had quite a lot of rainfall in the previous days.

Though we had to turn around, we took a different path down to the black sand beach near the horse’s field before turning them back out for the night.

We hiked the hill back up to the center in time to hear the dinner bell ring (the students share responsibilities at the center and are responsible for cooking, cleaning, etc.) where I went through the buffet style line and sat down to eat. At dinner I met several more students from the school. It was really interesting to hear the different accents of students from around the world as I ate my food and chatted with several people. After dinner I played some ping pong with three or four of the students as well as Franklyn and after I got warmed up a bit I started winning!

I made plans to hike to Trinity Falls the next day with Franklyn who was also taking out a group of Germans from a yacht.

I headed back to my room to gather my things to take a shower, after which I headed for bed.

If anyone is interested, Stina put a nice video together of our hike with the horses at the following link:

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photo by: Sads79