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When the weather is warm, everyone’s thoughts turn to the seaside or, moreover, the beach. Have you ever thought about taking your horse on a #beachtrip? If it’s something you’ve considered, read on to find my eight tips on horse riding on the beach…
1 – Am I allowed to ride on the beach by law?
The answer to this is “possibly” as it varies by beach! The very first thing that you must do is check that horse riding on the beach you’re planning to visit is actually allowed. A good place to find this out is on the local district council website. They will indicate whether it’s permitted along with a few helpful points that they ask you to respect. You’ll be delighted to hear that the sort of points they cover are all included in this blog.
2 – When’s the best time to go?
Naturally, when the weather gets warmer, more horse riders think about going to the beach, but is this really the best time to go? Do bear in mind that if you intend to go at the height of the season when the weather’s warmest, tourists will also go and the beach will be very busy. So the height of the season might not necessarily be the best time to go, even if there are no restrictions in place. For the first time, think about going out of the peak season in early spring, autumn, or even the warmer winter months.
Also think about the time of day you choose to go. In the early morning or evening, there will be less people about.
And the final consideration is around the “tides”. All beaches in the UK are subject to the rise and fall of the tide, which determines how high or low the water is on the beach. At high tide, you may not even be able to get on the beach, let alone ride on it! So check the “tide tables” beforehand.
3 – Is every beach suitable to ride on?
Not every beach you can ride on, is suitable to ride on. Only you will know if your horse will allow you to ride him on the beach. Be prepared to be patient as some horses find it a real challenge. Go to the beach yourself first, without your horse, or if this is not possible, ensure that you ask other riders who’ve been to the actual beach you’re planning to go to.
Try to work out whether you think the surface of the beach you’ll be riding on when the tide is out is composed of firm sand, which is preferable, and also that it’s not too rocky or covered in sharp debris. Check if the beach has wooden breaks too, as you might need to avoid these, along with lots of litter and debris.
4 – Is there anything else I need to think about before I go?
Yes! Think about how you’re going to get to the beach. If you can ride there, all you need to think about is what and where the access is. If you can’t ride there, you need to think about finding a suitable spot to park your trailer or lorry. And finally, find out how you’re going to get off the beach, i.e. the same way you got on it or via a different route.
I hate to say it but I will…and that’s write a list of all the things you need to take with you or if you’re feeling a bit lazy, ask a friend who has been for a copy of their list!
5 – What should I do on the day of the ride?
Walk down to the beach and have a good look around before you ride your horse on it to ensure that it’s safe for you to do so. If it looks too risky, i.e. the surface is rocky or there’s a lot of broken glass, be prepared to abort your beach ride and ride elsewhere. Riding elsewhere means that you need to have an alternative plan up your sleeve so you don’t have a wasted trip. Remember…”it’s better to be safe, than sorry”. Perhaps go back to the beach on another day.
Do remember that the reflection of the sun on the sea can be bright and may affect your or your horse’s vision. Consider riding away from the sun if possible.
6 – Should I go into the sea or not?
It depends! Whilst it’s completely up to you, it does depend on how you feel about these points:
* your horse will probably enjoy riding through the shallows but riding further out can be scary, especially if it’s his first trip to the beach. Before you do so, bear in mind the current of the sea as it can be very strong on some beaches, just like the tide can be also. There may be other hazards under the water that you can’t see.
* your tack will possibly be immersed in salt water, so if it’s your one and only or your best set, you might not want it to get too wet, especially your saddle as it will take time to dry out.
7 – What should I do after my ride?
After you’ve had a fantastic ride along the beach, you need to check your horse thoroughly. Feel all the way down his legs and inspect his hooves for scratches, cuts, swellings or heat. Then all the sand and salt water needs to be washed off. Before you head home you may need to dry him off. Plus you must, must, must make sure that you give him enough time to cool down. When he’s cooled down completely, you’re ready to head home.
8 – What should I do when I get home?
As you only rinsed off the sand and salt water at the beach, you may want to give your horse a proper bath when you get home. If your tack got salt water on it, you may want to give it a jolly good clean, along with all your other equipment. And finally, post your photos on Facebook to show everyone what a great time you both had!