It’s beach time again!!
My news feed at the moment is filled with peoples photos of their horses at the beach which is awesome to see! Aren’t we lucky to live in a place where this is possible. And yes the beach is a wonderful place for conditioning your horse somewhere different but before you take your horse on a beach outing there’s just a few things you need to consider.
Firstly. This is usually the off season for riding in Australia. How fit is your horse? Has it just had a 6wk break etc? People often spend hours at the beach wading in the water, swimming & galloping on the sand…. But let me point out, there’s a reason that racehorses are often exercised at the beach… it’s bloody hard work! Consider how much work your horse has been in and what you are asking it to do when you’re at the beach and play appropriately to this. Getting a horse out of a paddock that’s been off for 8wks and swimming it for an hour is like taking it for a 2hr trail ride. It’s taxing on the body. You need to build your horse up for swimming.
How hot is it? Obviously the beach is nicer when it’s warm. And yes most people go early to beat the heat. But what’s more import is considering how hot it’s going to be when you put your horse in the float & take it home. And how long is your journey?
Who has a thermometer in their float? You would be shocked at the heats that your metal boxes get up to when they’ve been sitting in the sun!
You also need to consider that whatever the air temp is it will be hotter at the beach due to the reflective waves from the sand.
Then back to how long is your trip? There is no fresh water at a lot of beaches so make sure you take some! Because if your horse has been playing in the water for an hour or so it’s going to need not only a drink before it goes home but also a rinse to get the salt off as salt is itchy. It’s also a good idea to take some electrolytes because if the horse has been in the water you won’t know if it’s been sweating or not.
I’ve seen people float their horse for an hour, stay for two swimming then float home in 36+degrees with no water. This is a recipe for heat stroke. If your horse is not a good drinker when out take some molasses water or soaked hay.
Then lastly beach saddles.
I completely get it that you might not be balanced enough, too nervous or your horse might just be a nutter and you don’t want to ride bareback but just consider what you’re putting on your horses back.
Granted, we don’t want to put our expensive leather saddles in the ocean but it blows my mind when I see people who spend a lot of money on saddle fits getting to the beach and putting a $150 shitty saddle on their horses back for a 2hr play in the waves! I’d just like to
Point out that this is a contradiction in care…. If you’re going to ride your horse at the beach in a saddle then this saddle still needs to fit as being ridden at the beach is actually quite taxing on the horse. Walking in deep sand or wading is tough! You’ll know if you’ve done it yourself but swimming is really tough for a horse as they invert their back. This means they need a saddle that allows them to do this & it’s been my experience that the cheaper the saddle the tighter it is. A good alternative is a bare back pad with stirrups. Some of them you can even wash!
So there you go! If you consider all the above points then you and your horse are more likely to have a more successful & rewarding summer fun experience! So let’s go have a great time at the beach!