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Running on the beach

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  • Running on the beach

    I thought about putting this in the Horse Care forum, but I thought the folks here would know more specifics about heart condition, cardio stress, etc.

    So, sometime over the next few weeks or so, I want to bring my almost 20yo mare to the beach. I ride three times a week, maybe four, schooling very lower level dressage for about 30 minutes say two of those days plus a maybe 45 minute hack, and other days going out on the trails (rolling hills) for a couple of hours. It's more muscle work and stretching than cardio. Horse lives out 24/7 in a good-sized pasture.

    Madame has never been to the beach, but I expect that after a certain amount of giraffe neck and snorting, she will get her Arab on and want to run. Do I let her choose how fast and how far she wants to run (the beach is four miles long) or should I have her take it easy? I don't want her to overdo it.


    TIA!!

  • #2
    If you want to run, the sand that is wet is the best area. It is very easy on them. Of course you will encounter all kinds of things from sea vegetation to driftwood to dead seals to trash to God knows what depending on your local beach and if she is not used to the water yet, the waves rushing in and pulling back can be quite scary. Also if you stand still in the waves, some horses get vertigo . So if you are standing still in the ocean and feel your horse tipping over, get them to move! I took mine a few times to get her used to it before running. Any "bad" thing that a horse does at a walk, it will defnitely do at a gallop and much quicker-don't ask how I know!

    But the thick sand further away from the waterline can get quite dangerous for them. You can try it yourself running in the sand that is still wet and the thick sand that water cannot reach-it is tough on the legs, the further away from the water line. But have fun-it is a lovely experience!

    Comment


    • #3
      Don't be surprised if you aren't able to get her down to the waterline. I've taken many horses to the beach and most are terrified of the waves and the movement of the water. I had a QH that I took at least 5 times and he never would get close to the water.
      I took my SSH last May and while it took some effort, he did get comfortable with playing in the water, walking in it. He was one fo 8 "virgin" beach horses and was by far the best one about getting in the water by the end of the day. I actually prefer to swim them in lakes as it's much easier and more fun as you can play around in it. Horses absolutly HATE to get water in their ears and you have to really watch the waves.
      We used to be able to go to Virginia Key Beach in Miami and it was the best as there weren't any waves and yet there was tons of area to swim in and ride along the shore. they closed it and redid it for people only.... rats.

      Comment


      • #4
        Stay out of the dry sand above the waterline, like tkhawk says. Your horse can bow a tendon pretty easy in that stuff.

        Apart from that you know your horse. If she is likely to get excited and keep running until she is in a muck sweat then keep it light. If she'll happily stop on her own when she gets tired then go for it. She is likely to run sideways a few times and your track down the beach will probably NOT be straight. Those horses that run through the surf in commercials? Selected and trained to do that. (At least on the West Coast or where there is pounding surf.)
        Last edited by ReSomething; Nov. 23, 2009, 09:26 AM. Reason: Not all beaches are alike.
        Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
        Incredible Invisible

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        • #5
          With everybody else, stay on the sand close to the water.

          If you actually try riding in the water, remain cognizant of footing, it can get suddenly deeper than you expect pretty quickly.

          Also, my horse kept shaking his head (and doing a few body shakes) while in the waves. I think for him it was less about water getting in his ears than it was about it splashing into his nose. Just something to be aware of.

          It was a LOT of fun, though, even just "wading".
          The Trials and Jubilations of a Twenty-Something Re-rider
          Happy owner of Kieran the mostly-white-very-large-not-pony.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by analise View Post
            If you actually try riding in the water, remain cognizant of footing, it can get suddenly deeper than you expect pretty quickly.
            Please do keep this in mind - I learned the hard way!

            Took my boy (Arab, incidentally) to the beach for the first time this past spring. After he got over his fear of the waves, we went for what was supposed to be a nice, controlled canter in the wet sand. When we got to a spot where the water came up the beach, I tried to pull him up, only to find that he had locked his jaw and refused to stop. He thought the water was only ankle-deep... when he cantered into it, he was chest-deep in one stride and went down. Luckily, neither of us was hurt, but I could have done without the dunking
            RIP Victor... I'll miss you, you big galumph.

            Comment


            • #7
              The main thing to be cautious of with regard to riding on the beach is legs.

              It's a heck of a pull exercising on sand and you're doing hardly anything at all with the horse.

              You need to ensure that it's got really good musculature and supportive structures and that you don't over do it. That means no long canters or trotting which sucks the strength out of legs.

              We tend to take ours down to the beach at Holy Island once a month in the summer months and as well as a good gallop we take them in for a swim. Mine are on a varied exercise programme: minimum 5 days a week and with interval work with routine long (mile) canters and gallops and do about 8 to 25 miles every time they go out (3 times minimum a week).

              The gallop is on the tide line where the sand is firmer and wet .... not in the water though.

              Personally speaking though, I wouldn't want to take a horse that is doing as little as yours is to canter on sand.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by BigHorseLittleHorse View Post
                Please do keep this in mind - I learned the hard way!

                Took my boy (Arab, incidentally) to the beach for the first time this past spring. After he got over his fear of the waves, we went for what was supposed to be a nice, controlled canter in the wet sand. When we got to a spot where the water came up the beach, I tried to pull him up, only to find that he had locked his jaw and refused to stop. He thought the water was only ankle-deep... when he cantered into it, he was chest-deep in one stride and went down. Luckily, neither of us was hurt, but I could have done without the dunking
                Yep, happened to me too (hence why I mentioned it). Except in my case I actually got fully dunked and had to trudge back through the water to the beach where my horse was waiting. And then ride all the way back to camp wet.
                The Trials and Jubilations of a Twenty-Something Re-rider
                Happy owner of Kieran the mostly-white-very-large-not-pony.

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Thanks, All

                  Madame is likely to be highly suspicious of the water on the way out (though there will be almost zero waves... when it comes to riding horses on the beach, this beach is a pretty good one) and totally unconcerned about it on the way back.

                  Thomas1, bless your heart! It is so nice of you to be so concerned, but actually the horse is building muscle in the right places very nicely under this regimen. Plus, it happens to be all that I have time for -- which is why I got an older horse (I don't have to feel guilty if I don't do major work with her five days a week). Again, though, I do sincerely appreciate your well-informed insight and attention to my horse's situation, which of course pales immeasurably when compared to that of your own horses. It is always an honor to learn from others. Certainly your regimen is the standard to which all undoubtedly subscribe, regardless of their horses' ages, other commitments, etc. We absolutely will be thinking of your input when we're out on the flats.
                  Last edited by SharonA; Nov. 23, 2009, 11:00 PM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by analise View Post
                    Yep, happened to me too (hence why I mentioned it). Except in my case I actually got fully dunked and had to trudge back through the water to the beach where my horse was waiting. And then ride all the way back to camp wet.
                    haha me too - there's nothing quite like being soaking wet and sandy for 2 hours in the saddle
                    RIP Victor... I'll miss you, you big galumph.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      SharonA - that inner Arab is a lot of fun I think. We did our first ride this season up the beach and back again 20ks each way. We kept on the firm wet sand just above the water line and what I thought was going to be a gentle ride enjoying the salt sea air turned into a desert challenge to get there and back in the shortest time. I worried about her legs, but in reality the footing was super - easier than the dry land we had been training on.

                      As others have said, keep out of the soft stuff.

                      Take your mare out, don't go fast, but if she gets her Arab up, turn round and come home. On the other hand, 4 miles isn't that far. If you can get her in the water, it's great for the hooves and legs.

                      Enjoy.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        You also want to be careful that you go out as the tide is going out or is out. As the tide comes in it can create sinky spots that are bad when you are going faster than say a trot. Plus if you do get her into the waves be careful that she doesn't stare at the water, it can mess them up and over they go. My friends stallion did that when she was using him to pony a youngster. Its like they lose their balance and can't tell which ways up-we do it too so watch the horizon while in the saddle not the waves.
                        Riding can be really fun although after so many years living near the beach I find it kinda boring. LOL

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          One thing you may want to do is when you first get to the beach, is hand walk her (with her buddy) down to the beach and walk a little bit. Some horses get sensory overload with the wide open expanse, the foreign sea scents, the sound of the surf, the wind, and the water. Once she seems OK with the situation, then tack her up and go for an easy ride. I wouldn't let her run herself out, but a controlled canter or short gallop should be just fine. Then the next time you can do a little more.

                          Have fun!
                          Bridal Sweet 05/28/1983 to 01/23/2008


                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by tkhawk View Post
                            If you want to run, the sand that is wet is the best area. It is very easy on them. Of course you will encounter all kinds of things from sea vegetation to driftwood to dead seals to trash to God knows what depending on your local beach ...
                            Or broken sea-shells.
                            **********
                            Starts with an 'S,' ends with a 'T.' You figure it out.

                            **********
                            "Houston, Tranquility Base here, picking up where we left off ..."

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              As an owner of a similarly-aged (21 going on 22) horse, I've taken my standardbred mare on the beach many a time. Unfortunately not so much this year as I've been putting milage on my younger horse, but when my STB was fit and of good wind (riding several times a week, including 6-8 hr hacking) I would let her run as far as she felt like. She was fine regulating her own pace. She never really "liked" the waves on the lake but she was okay with the water itself once we were in or if we crossed runouts and into tidal pools.

                              Out in the lake:

                              http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pi...9&id=515023528

                              The draft cross I had loved water from the first time we tried it. Good thing, since we went bareback body surfing that first day (grin)

                              http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pi...0&id=515023528

                              She played around the first time back to the beach with her new owner a year after I sold her and I wasn't buying it. I got up on her and out we marched into the waves. This photo above was that day. As you can see, she's tramatized

                              Now my TB mare, she's another story. She bolted on me the first time on the beach (whoo hoo racetrack!), and I came off when she went left spooking from a run out and I went right, hitting the hard wet packed sand. She was good at w/t but when everyone started cantering she decided she was a racer again and shot after them. I had no brakes and just race type steering after I lost my stirrups when she launched into the gallop. Ouch. I steered her to the waterline to avoid the other riders but didn't have enough leverage to pull her up. We rode another 2 hours after that, but no more galloping down the beach. Took her back to the beach on the same day as the draft cross, and she was better on the sands but bucky when the water hit her ankles. I got her to stand with her back legs getting wet and called it progress. It's going to be baby steps with her

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I took my crazy pony to the beach this fall. He is good about water but I figured he would freak out. He FREAKS OUT ALOT! He LOVED it. Was a bit nervous about it but the game was on. He got out to about his knees in it. We did gallop all out back up the beach probably 2 miles on the wet sand slightly in the water, it was a blast. Everyone was giggling like school girls. However the salt water did get splashed up in his face and of course he did not like that (I am sure it burned). I used my shirt to try and wipe his face. I didn't think of that before hand. I felt bad for him. The deep sand leading to the beach we walked in. We were there 4 days. I only rode him to the beach 2X and on it those 2X. They had an inlet ride too. The one horse that got galloped up and down multiple times was wore slam out. You know your horse and are already concerned so I am sure ya'll will be fine. ENJOY IT.

                                Pics: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/al...4&id=528669150 Mine is the short fat one with the big tail and roached mane.
                                Last edited by belleellis; Dec. 7, 2009, 02:46 PM. Reason: to point out which one it the cutest pony ever!! :)
                                Pamela Ellis

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  LOL, don't like to get water in their ears. Someone needs to tell that to Kit. When we used to board at a place with a lake we would take them in and she would proceed to dunk her entire head into the water.

                                  As for the beach, the thing that gets me is if you are riding above the waves how sick it makes me feel from the motion.
                                  Missouri Fox Trotters-To ride one is to own one

                                  Standardbreds, so much more then a harness racing horse.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Have fun and enjoy your horse. Be careful with the lose sand higher up on the beach. I know of at least one horse who bowed due to doing too much with a rider who was too inexperienced to know when to stop.

                                    At the end of it, you might find that your horse really likes the water. My sometimes spooky TB was right at home. He was fit and middle aged, but still let me roll up my stirrups and gallop.

                                    In the water for the first time
                                    http://good-times.webshots.com/photo...82679811CkCPyB

                                    A little flashback to "The Black Stallion"
                                    http://good-times.webshots.com/photo...82679811bhJCPI

                                    A gallop on the hardpack with only a halter
                                    http://good-times.webshots.com/photo...82679811NmSDPK

                                    Seeing how much he would trust me
                                    http://good-times.webshots.com/photo...82679811mVYeGw

                                    Have fun!

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