by J.P. SMITH
What brought world travelers and water skiers, Rob and Carol Bemman, to settle in Polk County on Eagle Lake and establish a horse trail? Their journey to this place in time, is waft with reminiscent sights, smells, and sensory delight, of beautiful Cypress Gardens, where it is their memories that still smell the flora and feel the spray from the water.
They met in 1979 at the “Water Ski Capital of The World” through Cypress Gardens while water-skiing for the Pope family. Rob’s and Carol’s mutual passionate skill for skiing brought them together. They traveled the world showcasing their water-ski show for prestigious and exciting venues. Rob established himself as a gifted world-renowned water skiing Champion. Then he began expanding his career as water-skier ramp designer and craftsmanship for building ski ramps.
“We soon realized central Florida was a hidden treasure and, of course, we wanted to live here,” says Carol. Rob’s skills in architecture led him to design and build their home on Eagle Lake in Winter Haven, Florida.
It’s hardly a wonder that Rob and Carol chose to settle on Eagle Lake. From an aerial view it becomes clear how the lake’s name is derived from its majestic bird-like, even eagle, shape. However, the shape isn’t the only majestic quality of Eagle Lake. The picturesque limpid lake is sprinkled with the occasional Bald Eagle and nest, American white pelicans, great blue herons, or double crested cormorants, as well as other Florida wildlife.
“The sunrises are spectacular! Every morning, I can’t wait to see all the colors that God gives us. Every day is different. We live on Crystal Beach Road and by the grace of God, was blessed in being able to purchase the surrounding cow pasture and pine forest,” Carol eloquently explains regarding their home.
“I have always loved horses and their therapeutic treatment that they provide,” Carol shares. Although, owning quarter horses, known for their calm and gentle demeanor, Diego, her Palomino, is her favorite. Diego is affectionately named “Mr. Perfect” by Rob. Crystal Beach Farm, LLC was founded and began with the main goal of horse breeding. Carol and Rob had a beautiful barn built for their beloved horses, and expended a lot of monetary resources on the upkeep and veterinary care of the equines. Unfortunately, the expenses became too much of a burden on their fledgeling stables and their horse breeding venture came to an end.
Out of this they branched into cattle, and thus began their beef cattle breeding. “They give us joy,” Carol exclaims of their cattle, “and the calves are so cute.” Carol and Rob will host guest “horse boarders” on guided timid and beatific adventures of rides and lessons through their woods and cow pastures. On past adventures, Carol recalls that her riders would count the new calves and name them. They would also have visits from local Boy Scout Troops to earn their Horsemanship Merit Badges.
Soon, as word spread to neighbors and friends, more people would ask for these private trail adventures through their pictorial Crystal Beach Farm. These memories and nature escapades led them to eventually making it official, and offering guests guided trail rides, daily.
For Carol, the beauty of Crystal Beach Farm resonates a deep peace and joy in how God’s creation is restorative for the soul. “A lady contacted me,” Carol begins as she recalls a story, “she said she was dying and wanted to ride a horse one last time. I put her on Diego, he was so gentle and sweet. She had said he sensed her sickness and took great care of her on the ride. I also use him for the Sheriff Posse search and rescue unit.”
The Sheriff Posse consists of local deputies or honorary members such as, farmers, ranchers, grove works and other locals that love the land, which monitor, protect, or help in search and rescue operations in rural areas. The horses utilized in the Sheriff Posse requires them to be desensitized through obstacle training. For this purpose, Rob has specially built obstacle courses for Carol to rehearse and practice for an occasion of search and rescue, if the need arises.
Realizing that the obstacle courses would be beneficial to other equestrians and posse members, they began a lighthearted competition on their farm. In the winter of 2018, they hosted an Obstacle Challenge Competition, and will be hosting it again this summer on June 29 and July 27. The competitions promise to be fun to all participants!
Through Rob and Carol’s journey, of floral gardens, world traveling, and water-skiing, they’ve established gentle, deep, and firm roots on the crystal shores of their Eagle Lake community. Carol shares a unique and thoughtful word about her horses, the trail rides, and the competition challenges, “I just felt if you are given something this special, you should give something back to the community.”
If you are interested in going on one of Rob and Carol’s nature horse trail rides, you can visit their website for more information at crystalbeachfarm.org.