Going to the beach with your horse
Going galloping on the beach with your horse is a dream for many riders. Laetitia tells us how she prepares and how a day at the beach with her horse Hanzo goes.
"I always pack a little early. I usually leave on Friday and come home on Sunday. So I pack the Sunday before since I can't make it during the week.
First, I take all Hanzo's gear: saddle, girth, mat, net and protections, in case there was a need to work a little. To that, I add my own stuff: boots, gloves and helmet. That's it, I think that's about it. After that, I always take a pair of bells because I like to protect him. He tends to step on himself a little bit too. So I go to the beach with the bells, there's no problem. I have a pair of plastic bells that are safe. After that, I never put any other protection at the beach because it rubs. As a result, sand gets underneath and it can really irritate the skin. Knowing that in addition, I like to make him walk in the water, it makes him like a balneotherapy at the level of the tendons. So without protection it's better. That's for his stuff at work. Then, I always take some stuff with me. When you go to the beach, you never know. Your horse can potentially get pretty excited about being outside. So I always have a big working lead, whether I need someone to hold it for me to get to the beach or just to do a little lunging before I go. This is a must for me. It would be really unconscionable to leave without it.
Afterwards, I come to get him in the morning. I harness the van which is now ready to leave. I just have to put a little brush on Hanzo and then prepare him to embark. There, we leave. There are schedules of access to the beach, therefore before leaving it is necessary to have consulted them to be sure to fall on a day and at a time where you have the right to go there. In this case, there are periods when it is limited and periods when it is open all day. So that's it. It also has to match the tides. You must not go at high tide, otherwise you are in the soft sand and that is really not good for your horse. So you should always go when the tide is low enough. Generally, you take the time of low tide and you count 2 hours before and 2 hours after.
Once I get there, I usually prepare him in the van so that he doesn't get excited on his own in the parking lot next to the beach. Because besides, there might be other horses and it might get to his head, so I prefer to prepare him in the wind. I always have my stuff organized so that I can get to it without having to unload the whole van and waste time. I put his net on and I can potentially put a hat on him too, so he doesn't get too much wind in his ears. Because that annoys him and at the seaside, it happens quickly. Then I take him down from the van. Hanzo is pretty cool at the beach, but he could be really much more stupid than that because he is a young horse. He is really quite cool. You just have to be careful because they're not used to being in wide open spaces like that. Then there are seagulls, there are buoys, there are kites, etc. It can still be impressive. Even if your horse is cool, you still have to be a little wary.
After that, not much can happen. In the worst case, you get caught. There's a technique that I've always been told: if you ever get caught, turn towards the sea. Because horses, once they get in the water, they actually stop by themselves. That's never happened to me, knock on wood. The only thing that scared him was going from dry sand to wet sand because the ground changed color. That scared him a lot. But once he got past that, it was okay. He was a little worried about a sulky at one point, but rightly so, because it's always a little scary. After that, he went into the water quietly, with a little negotiation. I didn't want to hold him up either, so we walked alongside for a long time. At first, we trotted and galloped along the water's edge and then when I felt him a little more relaxed, I got closer to the water. At first, he walked while shifting so he wouldn't put his feet in the water. He was walking half crablike with his head towards the water. After a while, we stopped and waited for the water to come to his feet. Then he backed off two or three times. And then, I just told him that he shouldn't go backwards, without asking him to go forwards. And after a while, he gave in and ended up going in. Now he was going in and he was very happy. He was playing with the water with his nose and everything. Walking in the water, it can only be good for them. I like to do that.
Generally, when you go back to the van, the best thing is to be able to wash them with clear water, because salt is itchy and can irritate them. So either you have enough to do it on the parking lot, or you don't and in that case you'll have to do it on the way back. You'll also have to wash your leathers with clear water because you always have salt water projections and that's not good for the leather. And then put a little soap on the back to clean them well. For the horse, you also need a bucket and water, so that he can drink. And then give him some carrots and a small liter of ration to reward him for being cool.
Either I stay on the spot and then I go back to the stables where we stay for the weekend. Or I go straight back on the road once he's calmed down and I know everything is fine, he hasn't had a stress attack and he's eaten in the parking lot. We get back on the road quietly and do all the care when we get home."