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Riding on the beach

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  • Riding on the beach

    So, i am a hunter rider with a newly acquired OTTB (got him in October.) I was thinking that I have always wanted to ride on the beach (not gallop along romantically, hair blowing in the wind - just a nice walk, maybe trot, maybe canter along the beach.) I am within driving distance of the jersey shore (albeit 2 1/2 hrs) and I thought that maybe this summer I would take my new guy to the beach.

    Now, I don't know if he trail rides. I intend to take him trail riding up here in northern NJ (and can't wait for it to get warm!) If all goes well and he is not a crazy lunatic on the trails, I would like to drive to Island Beach State Park and ride on the beach. Any suggestions on beach riding? I hear that some horses freak out w/ the surf, sand, etc. I'm a little concerned because the sand at the jersey shore is DEEP until you get close to the water. I am also concerned b/c my guy has an old bowed tendon LF (which had surgery apparently - cut check ligament according to one vet.) I'm worried that if he was a fool, he might reinjure himself in the deep sand.

    Has anyone ever done this? Am I crazy?

  • #2
    A friend and I went on our first beach ride on Amelia Island in Florida last October. Neither of our horses had ever been on the beach before. While we were in the deep sand we kept to a walk so the horses wouldn't hurt themselves. We did time our visit to low tide so that there was plenty of exposed hard pan to ride on. Neither one of our horses had any desire to get near the water. (as far as they were concerned I'm sure it didn't smell or act like any water they'd ever seen!) I would suggest you take your guy with another horse he is comfortable with...preferably one that's fairly calm and easy going. You'll have a great time, I know we did!
    "My biggest fear is that when I die my husband is going to try to sell all my horses and tack for what I told him they cost."


    • Original Poster

      That was kind of my plan...a friend of mine at the barn says her horse likes to trail ride..so, i figured we would test the waters and take them trail riding up here in the country...then, if they both are good, get along and are comfortable with each other, maybe we will take them down the shore as the summer progresses. My horse is a herd bound kind of guy.while i can ride him alone, i would never introduce something as scary as the beach alone! LOL thanks for the response and everyone in your pictures looks so so happy!!


      • #4
        My horse (the bay in the pictures) is a big weenie too and doesn't like to try new things unless he sees another horse go first. My friend's horse (the pinto) is more adventurous and actually got near enough to sniff the water. Mine wasn't getting that close no matter what
        "My biggest fear is that when I die my husband is going to try to sell all my horses and tack for what I told him they cost."


        • #5
          Be sure to check when the beach is open to horses. In my neck of the woods, it's only in the "off-season" - roughly October to April depending on the beach.


          • #6
            Time your ride for the low tide. Walk in the deep sand. Otherwise it is lovely to trot or canter. My OTTB girl was initially afraid of the water but now will go in up to her belly. She loves water! The beach is FUN!!!


            • #7
              Originally posted by Mukluk View Post
              Time your ride for the low tide. Walk in the deep sand. Otherwise it is lovely to trot or canter. My OTTB girl was initially afraid of the water but now will go in up to her belly. She loves water! The beach is FUN!!!
              echo beat me to it lol


              • #8
                Ditto on low tide, go with some buddies if you can. My appendix doesn't like moving water (he sidepasses beautifully away from it) but will travel willingly along the packed sand all day.


                • #9
                  We ride our Ottbs on the beach in the winter because around here (Maine) unless you have an indoor, it's the best footing around!

                  We go at low tide and we make sure to clean up after our horses both in the parking area and the beach. We make sure we dress for it too, because it can be so darn cold!

                  The ground can be a little unsettling for the horses but they get used to it quickly. For instance, my mare had a fit when her foot prints filled with (shiny) water as we walked. I felt like I was in the Thelwell cartoon, hahaha! But as soon as I started working her, she got over it.

                  In the very beginning she'd spook at sooo many things (but she was a fruitloop when she was younger): the rivulets of water that crisscross the beach (we'd be cantering nicely and she'd stop DEAD), the lapping waves, the crashing waves, the surfers, the kites, the dogs...but she got used to it all fairly quickly.

                  We go to the beach to work as we'd work in an arena, circling etc., then we take long trots or canters alongside (or even IN!) the water. It's GREAT.
                  Ottbs - The finish line is only the beginning!


                  • #10
                    One cautionary note- horses like to paw in the water, and it's possible for them to get a leg hooked in their reins. Panic and major problems can result, including the horse drowning because he can't get his nose out of the water. Be careful, especially if you use a martingale or tie-down.


                    • #11
                      I grew up in Houston, and we took our horses to the beach in Galveston often enough. Very fun. We used to ride them out into the water and first time I took my gelding, he decided jumping the waves on the way out was the thing to do. Well, of course, it is a bit hard to stay on a wet horse bareback, but hey, it was part of the fun!


                      • #12
                        That sounds so fun - enjoy!

                        Wearing a tie down in water is a really bad idea, regardless.


                        • #13
                          I have been riding on the beach for years and love it. I don't know what your area is like but there are a few things you really need to know about in my area... Sink holes can be a problem if you don't know what to look for especially around areas where there is water or pumped outlets. The horses are often sceptical of the water at first but usually love it once they are in. As for the gallop... The beach ic the best place,firm footing and water to run into if your brakes fail. I' m lucky enough to have a designated year round horse beach 5 minutes fro
                          my house and I wouldn't trade it for anything. Have fun.


                          • #14
                            I love taking my horses to the beach..
                            Have only gone about 4times though.
                            Here in WA, there are great beaches for riding on. The one I have gone to is the one in Ocean Shores, Which has rental horses out on it. You can park your rig on the beach, Heck, you can drive nearly the full length of the beach.
                            I know some states limit the time of year you can ride,my guess is so that the mulitudes of sunbathers etc are not endangered WA does not seem to have that here, aleast not in Ocean Shores where the rental strings are out and about in the summer time.


                            Couple pics from when I took my horse back in Sept,

                            A horse already knows how to be a horse;
                            The rider has to learn how to become a rider.
                            A horse without a rider is still a horse;
                            A rider without a horse is no longer a rider.


                            • #15
                              Only went one time - Mexico on the Pacific - hired horse. Would love to be near big water on my own horses someday. You inspire me!


                              • Original Poster

                                Thanks so much for all of these posts. Here in NJ, we have one beach, Island Beach State Park, where they allow you to ride. They do not specify on their website if it is only off-season, so I will have to check. DEFINITELY going with a buddy. My OTTB loves his pals. Great advice: martingale (I don't use a tie down, but will sometimes use a martingale or a chambon.)

                                The beach is lovely (we take our dogs there frequently off season so they can run on the beach -they love it.)

                                These thoughts and encouragement have inspired me!
                                I am going, as soon as the weather breaks, to introduce him to trail riding...then, we will try to tackle the beach!
                                Oh, BTW - I also plan to bring lots of drinking water for them from home. I know there are available spigots, but have been told that some horses won't drink the water by the shore (it smells funny) and I would hate to not have enough water for them to drink - it's a 2 1/2 hr ride home after all!


                                • #17
                                  My QH absolutely hated the beach! The moving water freaked him out, the sounds and the SMELL. He just knew he wasn't a Chincoteague pony and shouldn't be there!!
                                  "My treasures do not sparkle or glitter, they shine in the sunlight and nicker to me in the night"


                                  • #18
                                    Island Beach has been great this year. We only have till the end of April to ride then horses are not allowed till October first. You will have to book a reservation 5 days in advance, unfortunately the rest of the weekends are booked full with reservations. I am hoping to get another ride in before the end of the month, probably a Friday, you are welcome to join us. My OTTB no matter how many time we go totally forgets that the water will not eat him and wont go near it in the beginning. we just take it relaxed and walk and eventually he gets his feet wet and then remembers that it is just water and a few minutes after that I am usually trying to keep him out and keep my saddle dry

                                    It's a nice 6-7 mile one way down to the lighthouse, and back or you can just go and ride for as long as you want and turn aroiund. There is no water availiable so be sure to bring your own. A slack tide is actually best on this beach since the waves won't be as strong but the beach is wide so high or low it does not matter as much as other beache. Horses are not allowed in or west of the 'buggy track' wich is the deepest sand and you really dont want to be there anyway.

                                    there are other beaches availiable for riding in NJ but Island beach really is the best as far as parking, size, access and location.

                                    Good luck, you will have lots of fun!

                                    <object width="400" height="300" ><param name="allowfullscreen" value="true" /><param name="movie" value="http://www.facebook.com/v/10150106082033781" /><embed src="http://www.facebook.com/v/10150106082033781" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowfullscreen="true" width="400" height="300"></embed></object>

                                    not sure if this will work, but it is a video of us in the surf
                                    Last edited by StellaTMK; Apr. 7, 2011, 03:14 PM. Reason: added video
                                    Mighty Thoroughbred Clique - has a Facebook Page!!!http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Mig...80739235378806


                                    • Original Poster

                                      THANK YOU so much for invite to come ride with you! I think I may shoot for October; it will give me time to take my OTTB off the farm. He hasn't been off since October when I got him.

                                      Secondly - HOW COOL is it that you ride side saddle! Your horse is lovely (is that your OTTB?) I loved your video. It brought a smile to my face today, with it being so cold and damp up here in Northern NJ...do you show sidesaddle? I had the opportunity to try riding sidesaddle once, as a kid. It was SO hard.


                                      • #20
                                        Well, thanks to this being the "top thread" on this forum, here's my first post on ETR...

                                        I grew up next to the beach. I've been very close to the ocean, and in the spring would use the beach to ride on when our grass fields were finally thawed, but threatened to turn into mushy expanses of mud if I let them in contact with too many hooves.

                                        You have to be REALLY REALLY careful if you decide to ride on at the beach though. The footing you will find is very localized--in some places (parts of Ireland for instance) you can gallop racehorses on the beach, because it's very firm and smooth, but that's certainly not the case everywhere.

                                        The Jersey shore sand is quite similar to the ocean beaches of LI's south shore. Very soft, very sandy and very, very deep and loose. By the waterline, it's much more firm, but even at low tide next to the surf, you can't count on the footing--there are very often soft holes where the sand is way less dense, scattered around on the harder sand that you can't see at all. If your horse will walk IN the water (not all that likely--they mostly spook at the crashing monsters, and regard the quieter rushing shallows with a high degree of suspicion) you need to be aware of the bars that form quickly, and that there may be areas where these will drop away suddenly, and you may find yourself swimming for a few seconds!

                                        There may be parks where you can ride that include some seashore, but the dunes would likely be off limits--even hikers are cautioned not to walk on them very much, as they are fragile.

                                        Bays and coves present their own dangers, as do marshy areas--we used to ride our ponies in those areas, and the borderline between solid footing and muck that they can get stuck in is very slim. (Don't even ask me how I know this but I'm pretty sure it wouldn't be possible for kids today, poor things, to get in as much trouble as we did "back then" on a regular basis. Suffice it to say that we lived to tell the tales, not that they believe us!)

                                        The beach can be fun though, if you approach it with extreme caution, and tack you don't mind getting wet (hint: bareback is best if you are planning to swim--reserve this activity for the bays, though, if you got out in the waves at the ocean, you would have a hard time getting back to shore!)
                                        Inner Bay Equestrian