by Stephanie Merchant
Courtesy of SmartPak
The image of Alec galloping bareback on the edge of the ocean with his arms soaring like a bird will forever spark a flame in me to ride on the beach! If you haven’t read the book or seen the movie the Black Stallion, it’s a must!
Swimming with horses is one of the most exciting and enjoyable pleasures I have been fortunate enough to enjoy over the years. I have also had the opportunity to share that rare pleasure with many of my camp children as we conveniently had a pond right next to the stable. There is nothing better on a stifling hot day than skipping the ring work and getting in the water to cool down. It’s also very good exercise for both horse and rider.
If you decide to take the plunge and go swimming with your horse, here are a few tips that I always find helpful to keep in mind. First, think about whether your horse actually will take part in your daydream of floating around the pond and becoming everyone’s personal diving board or thundering down the beach. I’ve personally only known very few horses that really were serious about not indulging in this fantasy and you usually know who they are right off the bat. It’s the horse that will not even indulge you with a puddle! Most others will be happy to jump right in or require the smallest bit of coaxing and then are pawing and splashing around in no time. Even if you or your horse aren’t brave enough to take the full plunge, it is still quite enjoyable to wade around closer to the shoreline. I love doing that during a long trail ride and the horses appreciate a nice drink and time to cool down.
If you’re thinking about taking the plunge, here a few other things I always keep in mind before I head for the water:
- Be sure to contact your local Park and Recreations department to get a complete list of where and when you’re permitted to ride and swim with your horses.
- ALWAYS have a buddy with you. The motion of a swimming horse is quite unusual and we all fall off (but that’s the fun part!) so you need to have someone on shore to catch your mount as they come out of the water. Luckily the resistance really slows them down, so they are pretty easy to grab to get back on and do it again!
- Be careful not to get in front of your horse as they are swimming. It would be the equivalent of getting in front of a horse galloping on the ground and we would never do that!
So what are you waiting for, summer is here! With a little thought and planning you and your best barn buddies will soon be cooling off equine style.