Galloping your horse along the surf, water splashing up around you as the sun sets – it’s on any rider’s bucket list. As summer draws to an end, some beaches will once again open up to horses. If you’ve never ridden your horse on the beach before, it’s an experience that you’ll definitely want to have at least once. Here are some ways to ensure that your first ride on the beach is a positive and enjoyable one.
Get Permission First
Before you plan a trip to a beach, make sure that it is open to horses during the time that you will be there. Some beaches close access to horses during the summer and then reopen during the fall. Riding access may be restricted to certain areas of the beaches – for instance, you may be able to ride along the shore but might be asked to stay off of the sand dunes for the protection of the plants and animals.
If you’ll be riding along a private beach, get the owner’s permission beforehand, and be sure you understand how far their property extends. It’s always a good idea to mention that you will clean up after the horses when asking permission to ride on a beach – just be sure to bring along a bucket and a pitchfork to follow through on your offer.
Ride an Experienced Horse
Riding along the beach can be frightening for a horse at first. If you have a horse who is experienced in beach riding, it may be best to ride him on your first time out. Alternatively, be sure to bring an experienced horse along with your horse who is new to the beach. The inexperienced horse will be able to follow the other horse’s calm cues and can be reassured by his presence.
Go With a Group
Definitely go with at least one other person when you’re riding on the beach. Going with a group is a great idea as long as all of the riders are in agreement about what you will be doing during the ride, such as whether the ride will only involve walking and trotting, or if it will involve cantering or galloping. Having additional people nearby can be helpful and reassuring, especially if either you or your horse are new to beach riding.
Riding in deep sand is demanding of your horse’s muscles and legs. Your horse will tire more easily and can be subjected to muscle or tendon strains if he’s not used to riding in such a deep surface. Take your first few beach rides slow until your horse is conditioned enough to handle the sand. It’s also a good idea to ride down close to the water, where the sand is more firm.
Horse Off After
After your beach ride, be sure to hose all of the salt out of your horse’s coat to keep it from getting irritated. Clean your tack as well so that it stays in top condition.
Beach rides are a great experience and give you a chance to get away from the barn – once you take one, you can be sure you’ll want to do it again.
Image Source: flickr.com/photos/garryknight/6185217774