This was most definitely the climax of the trip! We started out the morning in a leisurely fashion as we had to wait for the tides to be low before adventuring to the beach. It was spent with a good breakfast, packing our lunches, and lounging in the common areas where we had wifi! Catching up with friends and family at home, and making everyone sufficiently jealous at what we had done for the previous 3 days.
We started by moving the horses from where they had stayed overnight, to the hotel where we were staying. Our beach picks weren’t ridden to save their strength. I got partnered with a grulla mare named Mouse – so far my goal to ride the rodent-named horses was coming together spectacularly. She was a nice mare, with a nice gait and easygoing personality. Her colour was also lovely, with the exception of the Troll Doll look she had going on with her forelock, thanks to hours of laboured scratching on whatever she could find. She also wasn’t much one to pose for photos, and we did pretty much everything in our power to get her to “smile” for the camera (I remember when Bonnie rode her, she threw a glove to try to catch her attention. No attention from mouse was gained, but the photo captured the glove soaring through the air directly at Mouse)
Total trip was about 12.25km. After a bit of a rest, our beach horses were caught and handed to us then we made our way to the edge.
Once we had sorted ourselves out (there was a lot of girth switching to make sure everyone had a saddle that would stay on!), we set out along the sand. The dark sand was soft and wet, with a sheer layer of water atop it, we looked like we were trotting along glass and the clear skies were reflected perfectly around us.
It wasnt long before several of us started letting our horses out. You could feel the joy in the horses, we galloped along like a bunch of grinning fools, the horses were keen on racing each other and splashing through. Occasionally the sand would get deep and we would settle back to a trot or walk, and admire the mud splattered on each other’s grinning faces and legs, before kicking off again into a wild gallop into the endless horizon.
After the long gallops, we were led up into a sand dune, which was high on the sides, with sort of a crater in the middle. There we rested the horses, out of the wind, and chattered about how that was the best thing we had ever done.
After rest and snacks, we made our way out again. The sand has changed colour somewhat and there are purple flowers speckling the grassy areas on the far side of the dune, they smelled fantastic, some sort of herb which reminded me of turkey! (Perhaps wild sage?)
Not long, and we had reached the ocean!
We rode parallel to the waves, Vertlinger taking the parallel to heart, spooking sideways each time a wave came in. Not badly, it was cute really, and he learned quickly… everyone agian picked up a gallop and rode in utter bliss.
At some undefined point, we stopped and concluded it was time to go swimming with the horses. My plan, given the spooking at waves, was to tuck in behind another rider to make things as easy as possible for Vertlinger. Then it happened fast, before I had a chance to remove my waterproof boots (part of my original plan), everyone was going in! Oh well, wet feet be damned, we are going in NOW!
Vertlinger went in easy and had no problems going deeper and deeper with his friends alongside. Of course, the water quickly filled my boots, but I was having too much fun to care. We hit a point where his hooves left the ground, and we bobbed up and down gently as he swam a few strides. Everyone bobbed around us, and we squealed with delight before going back to shallower water to give them a break. Alternating between swimming and wading. It was the most fun I had ever had (and I think the rest of our group would agree!) and it seemed like the horses just loved it too, which always makes any ride even better.
Was the water cold? Maybe. I didn’t notice. Seriously.
After our swim, my boots were my own personal pools. I dismounted and tried to pull my boots off, but they were suctioned right onto my feet, and the only result was a strong leg cramp. Riding home, my feet sloshed and squished and gurgled.
We had another stop on the way back, this time in a grassy area where I was able to sit down and wring an alarming amount of water out of my fluffy socks. The radiator that night was filled with wet boots, and I would be happy to ride for wet boots for the following 2 days should that be my fate… it was worth it!