Sunday, March 07, 2010

Beach ride

Northern California got a break this weekend and Steve and I took the horses out to the beach to celebrate. Now, we haven't had our two at the beach together in over two years because our one and only beach attempt with Bar ended badly--though not as badly as it could have considering it was one bad decision after the other.

Bad decision one was going out to the beach for a first trail ride experience only a month after we brought Bar home. The beach is great place to ride, but it's better to know your horse a little more than we did at that particular time. For example, it's sort of important to know how they feel about wind blowing sand sideways into their face and how they react to bunches of other strange horses.

Bad decision two was the two (er, four) of us deciding to get off the trail to get out of the way of the lone horse and rider coming back from the beach.

Bad decision three was me taking Bar up a dune and too far away from Lena--who was then his safety anchor. (Luckily, it's me now.)

It escalated quite rapidly to me hanging onto his head too tightly, him rearing, me sliding off and landing underneath him, and Steve and Lena having to chase him back to the parking lot. Luckily, all ended well, but you can see why we've been a little hesitant to try the beach again.

As it was, we chose a different beach today, one that doesn't go through a maze of claustrophobic dunes first. Actually, we went to that one first, but there wasn't room to park the trailer, so we opted for Doran instead.

Even with the constant wind, Bar and Lena were calm and curious. Both were very glad this was not an arena day. "Finally!"

Doran isn't very long, but the waves aren't huge and crashing, either, so it's pretty easy to get close to the water onto the firmer sand. The wet, packed sand is great footing for letting horses go, so we did.

It was the first time I've let Bar really run in way too long and I'm happy to report we stayed under control--me guiding, him listening, me breathing. It was glorious. He and Lena do like to race, that's for sure.

We went up and down the beach a couple of times, with people snapping pictures and cheering at us. Bar always seemed to know when someone had a camera pointed at him because he would swing that big brown head towards them and prick up his ears. Ham.

Bar's first (as far as I know) encounter with salt water went pretty well, though he could not necessarily see the point of water that tasted that way. "What good is it if you can't drink it?" he said with a snort. Then the water had the audacity to chase him! It did not, however, stop him from being terribly curious about it and figuring out rather rapidly that it was much easier to work on the sand closer to the water.

Lena has met the ocean before, but had a tense-though-thankfully-brief encounter with a loose black lab puppy. It kept coming at her legs and Lena kept trying to dance away from it while the pup's owner struggled through the sand to get to them. Bar was very concerned and kept trying to head towards them to assist, but he listened and settled down when I told him no. Finally, the owner got to the puppy and apologized--she thought the pup had been tied. It's a good thing Lena (and Bar) are both so dog-savvy or that could have ended very badly.

We got back to the trailer tired and sweaty, but feeling good about a good ride on a glorious day. Such a gift to be able to let him run today, to feel his power and his joy in his own movement. Yeah, I was pretty proud of myself, too.

Of course, no day would be complete without one tiny non-horse-person annoyance. We have cones in our trailer to keep people from parking too close behind us but have really never had a problem. Apparently, the owner of this lovely BMW does not know that the big door back there is where one loads the horses into the horse trailer.

Oh, well. It wasn't nearly enough to destroy the glow of a great ride.


aurora said...

You are soooo lucky! Horseback riding along an ocean beach is one of my longtime dreams! For now I'll live it vicariously, Glad everything went well, and you had such a special day :)

Buckskins Rule said...

Now's who running it in? :)

Glad to hear you had a good ride today. I've wanted to take the horses to the beach for a couple years. However the beach is a good 3 hour drive away, so the idea has yet to pan out. So, for the time being, I'll have to live vicariously through your trip to the beach.

At least the beemer was too close while you were parked. I had a driver tailgating our trialer on the highway today. I just kept slowing down, but she didn't seem to get it.