Recently, I went to the beach with an acquaintance and a group of her friends to do a photo shoot and got the amazing opportunity to ride one of her horses along the beach. A dream come true, right? Well it certainly was for me. I am still on cloud nine.
Preparing for the trip is something they/we planned about a week in advance and took a lot of double and triple checking the trailers, the trucks, the tack, the cooler and so on and so forth.
Afterwards (as pictures started to be posted all over social media) we started getting a lot of questions, oohs and aahs, which was cool. So we, here at International Cowgirl, would love to share the experience with you and help you prepare for your beach trip by putting it all in one place.
First off, make sure your horses are used to being trailer-ed for over an hour…or used to being trailer-ed at all. I am sure most of them are, however, I figured I would state the obvious. It took us about an hour to get from Deland, FL to Palm Coast, FL. There are very few beaches in the entire state that allow horses on the beach. The closest one to us was Jungle Hut Park in Palm Coast, FL. You have to pay a toll to get across the bridge to the island but it is something like $5 for a truck hauling a horse trailer.
To piggy-back off the first that is also majorly important, COGGINS. You have to, have to, have to make sure your negative coggins are on you on in your truck at all times. I know a lot of people who have a great little filing box in the backseat of their truck or in the trailer, that has their horses UP TO DATE coggins and any other important equine information in that wee box. You want to be able to pull it out immediately IF stopped by a park officer or law enforcement. Law enforcement stopped by whilst doing their rounds in the area and just chatted and checked out the horses. They were very supportive of us being on the beach and loved being with the horses. They said they don’t see it every day but often enough…it never gets old to them.
Second, double and triple check your trailer and truck tire pressure, brakes, etc. Another obvious statement; make sure your truck and trailer are all in good working order.
Third, tack and day trip “bag” for your horses. I wouldn’t recommend taking your best tack set to the beach. The salt air and salt water along with the sand could do a lot of damage to very expensive tack. My friend rode bareback but also brought along a soft seat which I thought was fantastic. Think of going on a mini vacation with your horse. Bring your equine first aid kit or travel first aid kit that I am sure you have in your trailer at all times anyway, your everyday use tack and a back up just in case. An extra halter and lead-line won’t hurt either. Your horse is strong…you know that…now mix that with taking them right into crashing waves, strong breeze and sucking sand…they MIGHT freak out at first, so if that lead line or halter snaps. You will want a back up REAL QUICK. Our group of horses were alert but didn’t freak at all. They sniffed at the waves and moved around a bit adjusting their feet as the sand under the water sucked in their hooves, but all that is natural and bound to happen. The water felt amazing and with the breeze, it was a perfect sunny Florida Sunday.
To continue on with #3, you will probably take breaks to let your horses feel solid ground, get them a drink, eat a bit of grass (in the park) or hay (by the trailer). Remember to bring water buckets and water if you do not think water will be accessible where you are at. There was a water spigot across the parking lot at this park, and of course depending on if your horse likes to travel using flavoured water, remember to bring your Gatorade of choice or whatever you use to help your horses stay hydrated whilst on a trip in a new place. Just like WE have to stay hydrated in the heat, so do they. ESPECIALLY in these Florida summers as they can get brutal.
Fourth…don’t forget about yourself. Your fur babies come first and they have everything they need and you have double checked and triple checked everything but you cannot serve others from an empty cup, as they say. Make sure you have a cooler filled with TONS of water, electrolyte gummies (like the sports Gatorade type gummies) because water will hydrate you but the sun drains you of all sorts of electrolytes that your body needs to function. Also bring snacks and sandwiches depending on how long you are going to be out there. Items that are often forgotten are sunscreen…OH MY GOODNESS, bring the sunscreen. I am from Great Britain, so we don’t get the same strong sun rays that we do here in Florida, so I was BEYOND thankful to have brought 70 proof…YUP…70 proof. My legs got a little red since we were in and out of the water a lot but I only have to reapply twice. Other items that are often forgotten are towels (to dry off), a change of clothes, a wide soft paint brush really helps get all the sand off of you before hopping back in your truck too.
If this is your first trip at the beach with your horses, do not be afraid. There was nothing in the water but fish and it was so clear up in Palm Coast. It is probably even more clear on the West Coast of Florida. Take all the time you need to desensitize the horse to the mass amount of stimulation that is going on around them. Take them away from where the people are. People WILL swarm you and faun over the horses being on the beach but setting strong boundaries (like kids not running up to the horses, people not walking directly behind the horses, sudden movements if your horse is a total newbie) is a must. We moved about a football field length of space down the beach and there was maybe one or two people there but we had all the space needed so the horses didn’t feel any more claustrophobic than they already do naturally.
It is definitely an experience of a lifetime. I love being on the back of a horse and feel at home there but on a gorgeous beach and the horses being with their buddies and us being with ours, it was a dream come true; truly an incredible day.
Thanks for reading and I hope you are able to take something new away from today’s post.
As always, stay safe and God Bless!
~~International Cowgirl xoxo