Thursday, November 20, 2014

Beaches, Man

Every rider has a fantasy about riding on the beach. It sometimes involves a white horse, no saddle, endless stretches of pristine sand and galloping. Lots of galloping. It does not involve getting up at six AM hooking up a horse trailer, checking hay bags, finding the right parking lot, dealing with freezing wind and wondering if the bath house is open in November because you really have to pee and you have a horse with you and you're in public and there are strangers around, but you're sort of in the middle of nowhere.

I managed to knock Taking the Horse to the Beach off of my bucket list last weekend. It is a logistical tapdance, but well worth it. Salisbury Beach on the North Shore is a state DCR beach and is free during the winter, unlike Cranes Beach which charges a minimum of $150 for a horse trailer permit.  However Salisbury Beach has about 2000 yards of pristine beach followed by endless developments. So it feels a but cramped. Hundreds of little houses but right up against the beach.

The first time I do anything truly new with my horse, I find myself fraught with worry about the whole endeavor.  I haven't done it so I can't contingency plan for what *might* go wrong in my head. (Why, YES, I AM insane, glad you asked!!) I usually don't sleep much the night before. Going to the beach was no exception.

We led the horses down to check out the water first. Cassel was really surprised by the waves and actually pulled the lead rope out of my hand the first time the surf hit his feet. He bolted a few feet and then he started to do this little mosey. "I'm free, and I don't know what to do with myself."

I just crinkled a peppermint wrapper and he steppe on the lead rope and waited patiently for me to come and get him.

The most surprising part of the day was when we were riding down the shore, I gave him his head and he chose to go down to the water where his buddy (an experienced beach horse) was walking. Every time the surf hit his feet he would snort and dance, but he didn't do anything scary or dangerous. The tide was on its way in and when a big wave buried his feet up to his hocks he planted his feet and leaned into the horse next to him until the waves receded. After that he was done walking in the water.

The sand was really deep and soft. So there was no galloping along the beach. We were not leaving the beach with a suspensory injury. Our hair didn't stream out behind us thanks to our ASTM helmets and our winter clothes didn't flow gracefully in the breeze.

But it was a beach. And there were horses. And I was there.


  1. Yay! I love all the photos of your beautiful horsie!

  2. I've been meaning to ask, and perhaps this is an ignorant question, but is he shaved across the chest? Or is that just a marking that doesn't photo well?

  3. It's called a hunter clip, or a trace clip. You shave the neck, chest and belly so they don't get too sweaty in work, but they still have all their warm fur on their back to keep them warm in the winter.

  4. Thanks for your response - I just started lessons at Seven Oaks Farm in Portola Valley and their horses all have the same clip. I'd never seen it before now - that I remember. As a kid I wasn't big on noticing things though - just on having fun!