“Deb, what I really want is to ride Misty on the beach.” She must have had visions of galloping along endless stretches of white sand with wave splashing up against Misty’s legs; also jumping the occasional driftwood log. Somehow she would be magically transported (airlifted? teleported?) to this seaside paradise. The acquisition of proper horse transport has been a five year long project, starting with a borrowed Chevy 150 and a rusty, ancient, but free, Circle J. After years of saving up, weeks spent shopping on Craigslist, months spent installing wiring, hitches, repairing rust and repacking bearings, as of last week, Kids Love Horses is finally, with it’s updated, repaired and rewired diesel one ton and gooseneck three horse, fully mobile. This has come, unfortunately, almost a year after the original request for a trip to the beach. But it happens to coincide with Maddie’s birthday.
“Yes, yes. I’m really excited to go to the beach. But do I have to get up early? You know I really need to sleep in.” (Maddie has just turned fifteen.) There are only two beaches in a hundred miles of coastline that allow horses. Salinas River Beach is a two hour drive away. Poplar beach is in Half Moon Bay, just over the hill, but popular. Did I want to drive to Woodside, hitch up the trailer, schlep back to LAH, load three horses (one of whom is not very co-operative), load three sets of tack from three separate locations, then undergo the exhausting and stressful task of hauling two tons of weight and twenty feet of trailer through weekend traffic to find that there were no parking spots left? No I did not. “OK, OK, I’ll get up early!” Early for Maddie is 8am.
Forty-five minutes into the ride, Maddie leans over Misty’s neck, “I’m too tired to stay on! I have to stop!” Misty hadn’t reacted the way Maddie had hoped. The waves terrified Misty. She ran over herself to get away from them. (This is a fairly normal reaction for horses on their first trip to the beach.) The sand was deep and exhausted the horses walking through it and there were dogs and kids and kites and all sorts of what not that you’d expect to find on what is very nearly a suburban beach. The seriously sleep deprived Maddie sat down in the sand, arms around her shins, nose on her knees and moped.
Amma didn’t react peaceably to the waves either. Amma is a gray Arabian mare belonging to Tara, a sixteen year-old horse girl, up for any adventure, always good company and more than willing to grab the third spot in the trailer. On the second or third try at going in the waves, a larger than normal wave alarmed Amma so much that she reared. Tara, who almost always rides with a bareback pad (and today was no exception), landed in the sand, not so much because Amma reared, but because while rearing she was also trying to step backwards, fell back on her butt, then pivoted. All that was too much for Tara.
Stoney, an old hand at the beach, was all a glow with “feel good”. In the picture, he’s watching the antics of Amma who is twirling and spinning on the end of a lead rope, hopping about in the waves as Tara takes the time to acclimate Amma to the presence of moving water, but not in such a way that will land her in the sand again. Most of the time Stoney spent happily prancing through waves and confidently stomping up and down the beach.
After something of a rest, Maddie decided that Misty would be too upset if she was left behind, so the three of them, Maddie, Haley and Tara, all set off again for another try at a ride. But Maddie just wasn’t able to rally. Although it was a good start for Amma and Stoney does enjoy the beach, the tired teen had shed some rain on the parade and, when they all returned to the trailer, neither Haley nor Tara was feeling charitable towards Maddie, a feeling that, I suspect, will be remembered for quite some time. Stoney’s heart, however, is completely full, his spirits are bolstered and his interest in life renewed. For his sake, if nothing else, we will return to the beach, although it might be better to head to Salinas where, one would hope, there will be fewer kites, dogs and broken beer bottles.