Thinking About Horseback Riding on the Beach?
Imagine sitting on the back of a horse, just a few other people and horses nearby, and nothing else but smooth waves, crisp sand, a cool breeze, and a warm sun. No annoying chattering voices, no flashing technology, no worries.
If you are thinking about trying this, you came to the right place. I'm not an expert horseback rider, but I have ridden horses on the beach. I can tell you everything you need to know from what to wear to what to expect, all from the point of view of your average, mediocre horseback rider.
If you're not thinking about it, maybe you should be. Before you go, read about it, look at the pictures, and consider it as a possibility.
If you decide to try it, it will most likely wonderful experience that you'll never forget.
I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to ride a horse along the beach in Grand Cayman the summer after I graduated high school. The experience was definitely one-of-a-kind.
My experience with horses was, and still is, relatively low. I had ridden on trails maybe five times when I was younger. You know, those places where you get on a horse, and the horse follows the lead instructor along a specific nature path. Still, it was good that I had at least done that because they didn't really give us any instruction at the place in Grand Cayman. They basically put us on horses and told us we'd be walking along the beach.
Despite that intimidating beginning, it turned out to be amazing. It was beautiful and peaceful above all else. Not only did we get to walk along the sand, we got to walk in the water. To literally be in the ocean with a horse, such a majestic creature, is a unique feeling.
To read more, look through the pictures below.
This list is written under the assumption that you will be riding during the summer or a warm month of the year. If you ride during winter or a cooler month, change clothing suggestions accordingly.
- Water shoes. I'm talking the kind that are meant for wearing in the water. They'll protect your feet, not fall off while riding, and stay comfortable when wet. If you don't have water shoes and don't want to buy any, your next best options are secure sandals or old sneakers that you don't mind getting wet and sandy. What you shouldn't wear are flip flops, shoes that fall off easily, or nice shoes that might get ruined.
- Bathing suit. You are going to be on a beach after all! You might get wet, you might get hot, and you might get sweaty. A bathing suit is going to be a much better option than the usual under garments you wear, especially if you're a girl.
- Tank top or t-shirt. Once again, it will be hot. Plus, heavier, looser clothing will stick to you even more if it gets wet.
- Pants, capris, or long shorts. This sounds counterintuitive after I just said twice how hot it's going to be. The reason for covering your legs though is because the saddle might rub against your skin and irritate it. If you're not accustomed to riding horses, it most likely will.
- Ponytail. If you have long hair, don't forget to tie it back. You don't have to, but it will keep you cooler and keep your hair out of your face if there's a breeze.
A basic black water shoe for women.
A basic black water shoe for men.
A basic water shoe for kids.
Some places will have lockers to store your stuff, others won't. If you're not sure, bring as little with you as possible. Definitely do not bring valuables. This list outlines the absolute most important things to bring.
- Camera. You know you're going to want photos! It's best if you have a waterproof camera. If you're not going to be riding in the water though, or if you have a way to keep the camera safe from splashes, you can bring a normal one. You can also find waterproof covers for many cameras.
- Cash. Many places in the Caribbean won't take credit cards. If you haven't already paid, you might need cash. You should also always have cash in case you need to purchase anything else while you're out, whether you're in the Caribbean or not.
- Small waterproof container or wallet. These are small enough to be worn on your person, often on a lanyard around the neck or clipped to pants and large enough to hold your cash.
- Sunscreen. You're going to be in the sun, so remember to protect your skin.
- Water bottles. You might not be able to bring these on the horse, but you might be thirsty when you get back, so have some in your bag. Sealed bottles are best because you'll be able to check that they weren't tampered with if your bag was in a public area.
Olympus makes fantastic waterproof digital cameras. I can vouch for their cameras because I own one myself. The pictures come out great quality, especially outdoor photos. This camera is waterproof, shockproof, and freezeproof. It has a decent zoom for a point and click. It's also small and pretty. Olympus is definitely my recommendation.
This is the exact camera model I own. All the photos on this page were taken with this camera. It's waterproof, crushproof, and freezeproof. It works fantastically, but there are newer versions that you can purchase now.
When deciding on a place to go to try horseback riding on a beach, there are a couple factors you should take into account. Do some research into different places, look at their websites, call and ask questions, etc. before making your decision.
- Price. More expensive doesn't always mean better. Find something within your price range, and take into account the price along with what they offer for that price.
- Level of experience required. Some places might prefer or require that all participants are familiar with horseback riding. Other places will have no problem with first-timers.
- Location. Obviously the place has to be somewhere nearby or somewhere you're going on a vaction or cruise. Different locations have different pros and cons, such as weather and types of beaches.
- Restrictions. Some (or all) places are going to have certain restrictions on age, weight, and medical conditions.
- What's offered. Some places will allow you to actually ride in the water. Some will last longer than others. Some will have larger or smaller groups. You have to know what you consider important and what you want from the experience.
- Reservations. It's usually best to book ahead to guarantee yourself a spot, but, again, this depends on your personal preference and situation. Some places will require you to book ahead while others won't.
Because horses are large animals and because horseback riding is a physical activity, it is not recommended for some people to ride horses. This list is not all-inclusive, and just because you fall into a category on this list, it doesn't mean you absolutely cannot try it. It just means you want to give it some thought before deciding.
- Anyone who has trouble sitting too long. You're going to be sitting on a horse for quite some time, and it can get uncomfortable even for those who have no trouble sitting for long periods of time.
- Anyone with tailbone or back problems. Sitting on the horse and bouncing around can put a lot of pressure on the tailbone, and the jostling motion along with no back support can irritate back problems.
- Anyone allergic to horses. This seems obvious, but sometimes people forget the most obvious of things.
- Anyone afraid of large animals. While I've never had a bad experience with horses, they are large and can potentially be dangerous, as can any animal. If you're not comfortable with horses or large animals, you might want to start in a more controlled environment where you can have more one-on-one help and less of a wide open space for something to go wrong just to get more comfortable with horseback riding.
- Small children. All places are going to have some sort of age restriction.
- Pregnant women. It is not recommended for pregnant women to ride horses, especially after 12 weeks, because it can harm the baby.
- Severely overweight persons. Being moderately overweight is not a problem, but there is a certain point in which one is just too heavy for the horse to carry. If you are concerned, ask the stable what their weight limit is.
- Individuals with other preexisting medical conditions. You will have to individually use your discretion for this one. There is an endless number of medical conditions out there, and they affect everyone differently. Know your own limits.
If you've never ridden a horse before, you might want to take a class or go horseback riding on a trail for your first time. As I said above, they didn't tell us much of anything where I rode on the beach, so I had to rely on my past experiences. Riding on a trail is more organized, and they seem to help you out a lot. It also allows you to get used to sitting on and riding a horse without having to give them much instruction since they follow a path behind the leader. Here, though, I've listed the most basic commands that you'll need to know when riding a horse.
- Go. Gently squeeze with your calves. If the horse doesn't move, give a light kick. There is no need to be rough if the horse is trained well and listens.
- Stop. Pull back on the reins. You can also say, "Whoa."
- Turn left. Pull on the left rein.
- Turn right. Pull on the right rein.
- Trot. Lightly kick with your calves while the horse is already walking.
- Mounting and unmounting. These aren't exactly commands, but they're still important. You can learn how to mount a horse at this link.