Riding on the beach is a “bucket-list” item of many riders, and with good reason. A gallop along the surf can be exhilarating for both horse and rider. But if you decide to try riding on the beach this summer, keep a few things in mind:
Your horse may become extremely nervous and/or excited. Go with another rider mounted on a horse who is a seasoned and well-behaved beach-goer. Then plan on riding at a walk until you’re sure you have the ability to steer and stop.
Deep sand will quickly tire an unfit horse. Soft, deep sand requires a horse to lift his feet high with each step. This can quickly tire an unfit horse and lead to muscle soreness or injury. Take care when moving over deep sand; keep to a slow, easy pace if your horse is out of shape.
The best footing is along the surf’s edge. You’ll notice your horse leaves perfect impressions of each hoof behind him. This is a sign of very supportive yet forgiving footing.
Hazards can be difficult to see. If you pick up the pace, keep a close eye out for half-buried objects, fishing lines and other hazards in the sand.
The waves beneath you can be mesmerizing. Focusing on the waves rolling in and out beneath you can be disorienting and even make you nauseous. Take a “wide view” of the beach to watch out for hazards, and fix your gaze on the horizon if you feel visually confused.
Venturing into the water can be dangerous. You and your horse may both appreciate a cooling dip in the ocean or lake, but limit your swimming to areas you or your riding partner are very familiar with. Do not venture into any area with rip tide or hazard warnings.