Galloping on the Beach

By Tobi

Some friends and I went down to Ocean Shores for a weekend, bringing our horses along with us. The purpose of our trip was to relax from an exhausting show season. What really sticks with me is not the “relaxing” part of the trip, but the excitement of galloping across the beach. Of urging my horse to move faster – literally as fast as he could go. The sand and spray on my face as we splashed through the shallow water and the sound of hooves on wet sand are still with me. If I had to choose a word to describe the sound of the hooves, I might have to choose something like “splack!” but it would be heard a thousand times, with the gentle roar of the ocean behind it. It was freeing, to just go and keep going, with nothing stopping us or making us want to stop. I was grinning from ear to ear, my heart pounding, and when we pulled up to catch our breath, it was like I could still feel the cloud misted space in front of me calling me further still, to the more isolated portions of the beach.

At one point we were trotting through knee-high surf, and suddenly, we splashed in deeper – my feet dipped into the water as my horse’s front two legs plunged down, soaking his chest. He immediately stopped, and turned around (as did some of the other horses next to us), and I just remember letting him take control for a moment. It feels like a natural yet peculiar kind of trust – the kind between members of separate species. He pulled both of us from the water, and then stood, considering our options. Seeing that two other horses were fording the deep section well, I asked him to follow them, which he did, charging across like a wave himself.

At another point, my horse braved some of the surf to follow our group’s mare (his pasturemate and “girlfriend”). During a moment of panic, I realized that he would follow the mare out to see if she chose to swim away. But even as I clenched my hands on the reins, I felt a sort of longing to have that happen. To just swim out to sea (with or without the horse). Like the idea of swimming out there and not worrying about coming back was tempting, although terribly frightening at the same time. In the end, both horses turned back to shore and we laughed about it.

All in all, I remember feeling really happy, basking in the thin sunlight (this was Washington, after all) between the sea and the dunes. It was much more rewarding than walking, and we were far from the sounds of motors and mechanical things. It’s an experience I plan on repeating.

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Posted: Monday, September 27th, 2010

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