Why I love beach riding
Is it the romance of cantering beside the surf or simply being on horseback in wide-open spaces and breathing fresh salt air? Penny Herbert of beach ride specialist Nolton Stables in Pembrokeshire tries to pin down the thrill of riding on the beach.
The magic of riding through the surf
Penny Herbert and daughter, Pembrokshire by Nolton Stables
Part of the appeal of beach riding is that it’s still a bit of a rarity because not many operators can ride on the beach. But there’s also a real romance about it. I think a lot of people, even those who don’t ride horses at all, have always imagined that it would be a lovely thing to ride through the surf. And it is lovely. Even doing it all the time, it’s still fabulous for me to go down there.
Beach riding is a totally different experience to riding in the country; it’s not better its just very different. The beach surface is always flat, so if you’re cantering you’re aware that the going is always very good because the sand is always pretty much the same consistency, so the horses can get a bit of a toe in and bounce off a little bit. So the horses are more confident that they’re not going to put their feet down a hole and we feel more comfortable with it too.
Racing on Druidstone Beach, Pembrokshire
At Nolton Stables we mainly use Druidstone Beach. We take an access road then a track over our land down to the beach.
As we get closer you start to hear the sea and the air becomes very fresh and there’s always a bit more breeze.
And as we come down the hill everyone can see the beach spread out in front of us. The anticipation is fantastic – even people who have done it before love it.
It’s corny, but honestly, every time we finally get down onto the beach I think it’s beautiful. Druidstone is very tidal, so sometimes you've got a tiny beach and sometimes it’s enormous – it’s always a bit different.
Suitable for all level of riders
Horse riding Marloes Sands, Pembrokeshire
We take people to the beach who have never ridden before and also experienced riders, so when we arrive on the sand we separate out into different groups of similar abilities.
Beginners are always going to be bowled away by the experience; this may well be the only time they ride simply because they want to ride on a beach.
So, it’s an enormous experience for them – they’re sitting on a horse for the first time and walking on a beach. But it’s equally impressive for those with experience because it’s so different to canter here.
I still think beach riding is magic. Really, I love it. You’re so close to the cliffs at Druidstone and they’re awe-inspiring with the coal seams going through them. And the beach is such a wide open space – you’re there looking out to the horizon. There’s something about riding by water, isn't there? To me it’s amazing.
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