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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am planning on taking Mitch out to the beach hopefully in a few weeks time, with a friend of mine who has a mare that is bombproof and used to the beach, so if anything goes wrong I'm not on my own..

My issue is this, I have never ridden a horse on the beach, and Mitch has never been to the beach in his life. He's a very responsive horse, but he also has A LOT of get up and go, and that get-up can happen very suddenly (though till now it has only been when I have asked for it).. I just have that feeling that when we get to the beach, his excitement may take over a little, and I want us both to be as safe as we possibly can be until he settles down.

Do I just saddle up in his usual gear and go, with the addition of a neck strap?
I am contemplating borrowing something stronger than a snaffle just for our first beach outing (though trialing it at home first to make sure he likes it), just so if he decides that there is more go and no whoa I have a better chance of stopping him and keeping control. Don't get me wrong, he goes brilliantly in his french link snaffle, always slows and stops when I ask, but he hasn't ever been to a beach, and he LOVES water... Like "I will not move out of this knee deep puddle until both you and I are sufficiently covered in cold muddy water during the winter" loves.
That accompanied with a big wide open space and new "scary" surroundings could have him react, don't ask me why, I just get that feeling. I'm hoping that he will just be his usual excited, jig-joggy and settle down in 20 minutes self like he did at his first few shows, but I just want to be sure that I have as much control as possible *IF* things go awry.

Any suggestions would be great, and I don't mind if those suggestions include "harden up and get on with it you chicken" :lol: because I am being a bit of a chicken here, but you can never be too prepared, right?
 

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Only one suggestion, if you are going into the water take it slow and evaluate the depth. Around here there is a sort of trench and then the water gets shallow again. A friend riding with us once (first time for him) saw the water and charged in, horse stumbled after the deeper part going onto the shallow part and went down. Other than that I can't think it would be much different than any trail ride. Can be a lot of fun.
 

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If he is too excited dismount and walk him, do you know how to send him back/forth on a lead, take a lead with you and send him back/forth beside the water if he's really scared of it, it will keep his mind on you and not worry so much about the water....
 

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A pretty common problem I always get warned about when I bring up wanting to go (also that I have seen others go through), is that when the horses first go into the water, they sometimes think the ground is falling out from under them when the waves come and go. it feels the same with us our first time. its a lot different then any river or lake, so just keep that in mind. I have seen horses that LOVE water and have spooked some with the ocean. good luck and have fun!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks guys! I'll definitely be taking it slow, the particular beach I'm planning on going to has the actual beach with all the waves and whatnot, and also a river that runs into it, with a smaller stream at the other end of the beach, so I have options if he freaks out with the waves... I have also just emailed the local council, as I actually have a river running right around my property, so *if* the water results say that the river is clean enough (even though it's brown) I will take him in that first, I know what it's like and how it flows and slopes etc, where the deep bits start.

I do know how to send him back and forth on a lead line, but i'll also take a lunge line *just in case*

Dreambig, I didn't even think of that, but now that you mention it, I got told never to take my old mare to the beach as she would get dizzy and stumble, then end up falling over.. Bet that would have been scary and thankful they warned me before I bought her home!!

He's just had his back fixed today, so I'll wait until he's comfortably able to be in work again before I take him out :)
 

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Which beach are you going to? I am looking forward to taking my new gelding out to karioitahi beach in auckland soon when I get my new float. Have no idea if he has been to the beach before since he's still young but I cant wait.

It's good that you will have a calm experienced horse with you. The only advice I can offer especially if you are going to a west coast beach is to watch out for fishing lines, usually you will see their cars parked up so make sure you slow down and ride up behind their cars.

I had a scary moment once when someone had a line out and they were sitting up in the dunes so I couldn't see them. Went past at a gallop and felt something twang the top of my helmet, rode back and it was a fishing line at the perfect height to catch a rider. Rode up and told the guy he needed to sit where people could see him since there were lots of other horses there that day.

Have fun!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Which beach are you going to? I am looking forward to taking my new gelding out to karioitahi beach in auckland soon when I get my new float. Have no idea if he has been to the beach before since he's still young but I cant wait.

It's good that you will have a calm experienced horse with you. The only advice I can offer especially if you are going to a west coast beach is to watch out for fishing lines, usually you will see their cars parked up so make sure you slow down and ride up behind their cars.

I had a scary moment once when someone had a line out and they were sitting up in the dunes so I couldn't see them. Went past at a gallop and felt something twang the top of my helmet, rode back and it was a fishing line at the perfect height to catch a rider. Rode up and told the guy he needed to sit where people could see him since there were lots of other horses there that day.

Have fun!
I'm planning on going to Kai Iwi Beach near Wanganui, it's a west coast beach but all the fishermen tend to go way up the beach, and there's no dunes there, there's cliffs, so you can always tell when there's fishermen out since they can't hide in dunes.. That must have given you a fright!! Lucky it was helmet height and not neck height, that stuff is nasty!
 

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You might want to leave his halter and lead rope on (I forget if it goes under or over the bridle?). In case he does get anxious you can get off and not have to use your reins.
 

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what do you mean by 'neck strap' ? I hope you don't mean any kind of tie down/running martindale/etc, unless you want to drown him.Seriously, he has to be able to hold his head up to keep his nose out of the water as his body sinks down, in order to breathe if you go beyond wading depth! I saw a girl darn near drown her mare once because she kept tight reins and wouldnt let the horse have her head free, not sure if she had a tie down as well or not, but we were all screaming at her to let the horse have her head. Thankfully the horse found footing good enough to get herself out of the deeper water, but she was really struggling and it was just awful to see it happening.

If it were me, I wouldnt plan on getting in the water untill and unless my horse is calm and accepting. I mean if he gives you the green light that's one thing, but if he is fearful, I'd not force the issue as this is his (and your) very first time. So, no you're not being a chicken at all!! You are being appropriately cautious and realistic. So, not PLANNING on riding into the water will take the pressure off yourself (feeling like a chicken if you dont), but you can always change the plan to include getting in the water if everything feels safe. Make sense?
Besides, personally, I prefer riding on the beach to riding in the waves. I've done it a few times and I just don't much like the groaning and moaning that a swimming horse makes, plus they sink down quite a bit, with only their heads/noses out of the water out in front of you, and I feel like I'm about to drown the poor thing. Logically, I know that's not the case, but it's how it makes me feel. I never felt like the horse enjoyed it, either. Playing and spashing in belly deep water is different than swimming in over their head water. But, that's just me, you may love it and feel like he does too!
I woudnt change bits. I dont recommend going to a stronger, read that harsher bit in an attempt to get more control. Especially if you only have time to trial it a couple of times prior to NEEDING it for control. As already said, have the halter under the bridle, and safely carry a lead tied behind the saddle and if he's too jiggy, won't settle, then get off and do some ground work.jmho. Can you disengage his hindquarters and/or do a one rein stop (having practiced lots and lots so it's not a new thing when you need it) ??
Those techniques are a much better option for control than a harsher bit which might just make things worse. again, just my opinion.
Also, do you have a bareback pad? I did one ocean ride in a saddle, but the other 2 times they had either a bareback pad or plain ol bareback. I don't think salt water will do your saddle any favors, plus, think what a trainwreck it would be if the girth slipped or broke and the saddle comes off or is hanging sideways/under him and youre out over both of your heads deep. yikes!
Perhaps you're only planning on being in wading deep water, but I don't know if you mean that or to actually have the need to swim.

No, one cant' overprepare, very smart of you to think ahead and ask questions!!
Be safe.Have a blast!
Fay
 

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what do you mean by 'neck strap'
Usually a neck strap is just a leather strap that goes around the horse's neck. Like a belt or a collar. It gives you something to hold on to and helps you keep your seat if a horse takes off.


Good luck and take lots of pictures to share with us! I bet you guys will have a blast!
 

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some things to keep in mind. Horses feel uncomfortable in windy conditions because they can't hear very well. The water is weird for them because they can't evaluate the depth so both those elements tend to make some horses pretty nervous. With all that aside though, my horse did great his first time at the beach. He was the only horse who didn't mind actually! The other horses were anxious but nobody did anything crazy, just some mild crow hops.

After a couple times to the beach, & you know your horse is comfortable, I'd suggest trying it bareback. It's amazing to take your horse all the way in if he'll let you!!!!! Have fun!!!!!! Riding on the beach is a must!!!!
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
what do you mean by 'neck strap' ? I hope you don't mean any kind of tie down/running martindale/etc, unless you want to drown him.Seriously, he has to be able to hold his head up to keep his nose out of the water as his body sinks down, in order to breathe if you go beyond wading depth! I saw a girl darn near drown her mare once because she kept tight reins and wouldnt let the horse have her head free, not sure if she had a tie down as well or not, but we were all screaming at her to let the horse have her head. Thankfully the horse found footing good enough to get herself out of the deeper water, but she was really struggling and it was just awful to see it happening.

If it were me, I wouldnt plan on getting in the water untill and unless my horse is calm and accepting. I mean if he gives you the green light that's one thing, but if he is fearful, I'd not force the issue as this is his (and your) very first time. So, no you're not being a chicken at all!! You are being appropriately cautious and realistic. So, not PLANNING on riding into the water will take the pressure off yourself (feeling like a chicken if you dont), but you can always change the plan to include getting in the water if everything feels safe. Make sense?
Besides, personally, I prefer riding on the beach to riding in the waves. I've done it a few times and I just don't much like the groaning and moaning that a swimming horse makes, plus they sink down quite a bit, with only their heads/noses out of the water out in front of you, and I feel like I'm about to drown the poor thing. Logically, I know that's not the case, but it's how it makes me feel. I never felt like the horse enjoyed it, either. Playing and spashing in belly deep water is different than swimming in over their head water. But, that's just me, you may love it and feel like he does too!
I woudnt change bits. I dont recommend going to a stronger, read that harsher bit in an attempt to get more control. Especially if you only have time to trial it a couple of times prior to NEEDING it for control. As already said, have the halter under the bridle, and safely carry a lead tied behind the saddle and if he's too jiggy, won't settle, then get off and do some ground work.jmho. Can you disengage his hindquarters and/or do a one rein stop (having practiced lots and lots so it's not a new thing when you need it) ??
Those techniques are a much better option for control than a harsher bit which might just make things worse. again, just my opinion.
Also, do you have a bareback pad? I did one ocean ride in a saddle, but the other 2 times they had either a bareback pad or plain ol bareback. I don't think salt water will do your saddle any favors, plus, think what a trainwreck it would be if the girth slipped or broke and the saddle comes off or is hanging sideways/under him and youre out over both of your heads deep. yikes!
Perhaps you're only planning on being in wading deep water, but I don't know if you mean that or to actually have the need to swim.

No, one cant' overprepare, very smart of you to think ahead and ask questions!!
Be safe.Have a blast!
Fay
Just an old stirrup leather around his neck for my own safety, say if he takes off I can grab onto that suddenly rather than banging his mouth. I wouldn't ever put a tie down onto a horse when the ride involves water, I know that would be seriously dangerous.

This is true, I like that sort of a plan, I did that at his first few shows, so I didn't get there expecting everything to go perfectly, then there's no let down feeling either if things don't go quite to the grand plan.
Personally I don't think I would let him get in deep enough on the beach to actually swim, the waves scare me at that depth, even though they don't break until closer to the shore on this beach, I would hate for him to be having a great time swimming and ten bam, big wave and panicked/half drowned horse. I think I'll do it in the time of day just before the tide is starting to go out, that way there is more shallow water to play in than there is when the tide is coming in. I was only thinking in the likes of a hanging snaffle/baucher(I have ridden him in one before, he went fine, but I didn't need it so I swapped back to the plain snaffle), so there's a bit of poll pressure, but if you think it would be better to just use his normal bit, I'll just stick with that. I can disengage his hind quarters, but I haven't been taught face-to-face how to properly use a one rein stop, so I haven't tried that one yet since I don't want to do it wrong.

I figure if I'm going to have him actually swim, I'll do it in the river that is on the beach, rather than have the waves etc interfere, and that way I also have two banks to get to, rather than either the beach or the rest of the ocean.. Can you tell I don't like deep water myself? lol
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
some things to keep in mind. Horses feel uncomfortable in windy conditions because they can't hear very well. The water is weird for them because they can't evaluate the depth so both those elements tend to make some horses pretty nervous. With all that aside though, my horse did great his first time at the beach. He was the only horse who didn't mind actually! The other horses were anxious but nobody did anything crazy, just some mild crow hops.

After a couple times to the beach, & you know your horse is comfortable, I'd suggest trying it bareback. It's amazing to take your horse all the way in if he'll let you!!!!! Have fun!!!!!! Riding on the beach is a must!!!!
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Thanks :) I didn't think about both conditions combined. He is fine in the wind, doesn't seem to bother him at all, but I'm not sure how he will take the water to start with even though he LOVES it here, he's an *** to lead in winter through deep gateways lol.

I just picked up a new float on Monday afternoon and gave it a test run with Mitch inside yesterday.. We went to the local saddle fitter/chiropractor/muscle therapist/ almost everything equine lol.. He did great in it (not dropping hips round corners like he does in my old one) so that's a load off my shoulders on what will be a nerve wracking start to my day haha. He is having a few days off due to work being done over the tops of his ribs and along his neck, then I will bring him back into work slowly before taking him to the beach.

If the local council emails back and says the river is safe to swim in then I'll try that first, since I know how deep it is and where any sudden drops are etc.. I have been swimming in it multiple times but never get my head under since I don't know how clean it actually is
 
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