It was a beautiful Oregon Sunday when Miss Rylee and I loaded up our horses and headed to the Oregon coast for a ride on the beach. Now this wasn’t just ANY ride on the beach, this was a memorial ride put together for our dear friend Sarah Watson who passed away in early May 2018 when she was struck by a car while riding her motorcycle home from work. This was an opportunity to love our horses, see our horse community, enjoy the coast and remember Sarah.
Ever since I can remember, I’ve had this fear of riding horses at the beach. I think it’s because when I was in 4H there was a prized Arabian stallion that was out for a breeding photo shoot when he panicked, ran into the waves, got disoriented, and swam away from shore. Exhausted, he nearly drowned before a fishing boat found him and strapped him to the side of the boat to bring him back in. Stories like this are heard every few years or so and are absolutely horrifying to me. This fear has stuck with me since I was a child. Because of it, I have only ridden at the coast one other time and that was for a tour Oregon video that my sister and I did.
Rylee’s horse Drifter had never been to the coast before so we decided to be cautious and then, because it’s me, I had to tell her my no-nonsense rules for survival since we all knew something weird would happen. By watching a lot of the actions on the beach, I was surprised at how few other people adhere to these simple rules. Please keep them in mind the next time that you go ride!
Katie’s Horseback Riding at the Beach Rules
- Make sure that all of your tack is secure and fitted BEFORE you get out on the trail. Triple check everything.
- Lock up everything in your trailer and your vehicle. Make sure that your keys are secured to you and that you can not lose them. You never know when someone may come through and steal your fancy tack!
- Do not get to the beach and start running your horse. Everyone likes to run their horse on the beach BUT you need to walk your horse when you get there. Do you really want your horse expecting to start running as soon as they feel that salt breeze? Also, you need to WARM your horse up.
- Never run your horse back towards the trailer; only run away from the trailer if you’re going to run. You don’t need a run away that tries to make a break for the parking lot.
- Make sure that you know the terrain. I highly recommend walking/jogging up the shoreline, walking back and then letting the horses stretch out.
- Make sure that there are not people near the water when you let your horses run. Horses LOVE to run on the beach, they feel great doing it! Here’s the thing, people who aren’t familiar with horses and are potentially at the waters edge may try to walk back inland while you are running to “get out of your way” and, instead, get into trample-zone.
- If you see a dog up ahead of you (or behind you) make sure that it’s on a leash before you take off. Dogs have a natural chase instinct; no need to get into an accident.
- Stay on the wet sand!!! I can’t stress this enough! I had a friend whose horse wavered from the wet sand, stepped into the DEEP dry sand, and somersaulted on top of her. It’s the prime way to have a broken leg, a fall, a strained muscle, and so much more. Keep your horse on the wet sand. Do not run your horse on the dry sand.
- Do not run PAST other horses, especially if you don’t know the riders. There is a sure fire way to have a runaway horse and ruin someones beach experience by running past them. The other thing is that horses always want to go to their “herd,” even if they’ve never met their herd and could run AT the other horse.
- Know your horse’s endurance level and physical capabilities. When doing something fun we can get carried away and KEEP doing it past the time that we should.
- Pick up after yourself. Whether it’s horse poop or hay or trash; pack it in, pack it out. Especially at the parking area.
- Clean your tack and your horse when you get back to wash the salt off of them. You don’t want that residue to hang around. I also encourage you to clean your horse trailer and hauling vehicle.
[Additional edits as of July 7, 2018 due to great commentary on this post!]
- Be knowledgeable about the tides wherever and whenever you are riding and how it will affect your riding area on the beach. The tide that is out when you start your ride may come in during your ride and in some places leave no land for you to get back. This may only happen certain times of the year too as tide levels change. ~ Courtesy of Julie Rumreich.
- Unexpected high waves (sneaker waves) can quickly come in and you need a place to get off the beach so always be aware of your surroundings and an escape route. Sneaker waves happen mostly between October and April. ~ Courtesy of Julie Rumreich.
- While its fun to go in the water, the horses can get dizzy and will want to lay down and WILL NOT get up sometimes and you risk them drowning (my mom saw this happen to a horse). Pay attention to how your horse is handling the moving water of the tide coming and going. If they seem dizzy or start weaving in and out with the waves get out of it! ~ Courtesy of Kristina Eckert.