How to Ride a Horse on the Beach

Three Parts:Using Proper Care on the BeachPreparing the HorseChoosing a Beach

Riding a horse on the beach at sunset is many a horse owner’s dream. But you don’t have to restrict your riding to sunset, and there’s a lot more to it than you’d think. You must prepare your horse for being near water, and you have to bring the right gear and tack. Get your horse prepared for the ocean by riding through creeks at home, and you’ll be ready for beach riding in no time.

Part 1
Using Proper Care on the Beach

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    Find seasoned horses to ride with. Give your horse a calming influence for beach riding by finding other riders who frequent the beach. If it’s your horse’s first or second time riding on the beach, being with other confident horses helps keep your horse calm. [1]
    • This is very helpful because many horses are afraid of the ocean the first time they see it.
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    Choose a time of day with few beachgoers. Horses become alarmed if there are a lot of people and noises in a concentrated area. Going to the beach when there are few people is best. Not only does this minimize your horse’s exposure to stimulation, but it minimizes how many obstacles your horse has if it gets loose.[2]
    • A spooked horse is a hazard to itself and other beachgoers.
    • Go to the beach in the early morning or late evening, or on weekdays.
    • Avoid going to a popular beach in the middle of the day on a weekend.
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    Go at low tide. Horses don’t usually like to go directly into the water, especially on one of their first beach trips. Choose a time of day when the waves are low, usually at low tide. Low tide also helps because it usually reveals a strip of firm sand that is good for horses to walk on.[3]
    • It also helps to go on a day that isn’t windy because it minimizes waves.
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    Direct your horse slowly into the water. If it is one of your first times to ride your horse on the beach, your horse is likely a bit afraid of the water. Let your horse get acclimated to the beach before urging it into the sea. Try riding your horse in circles in the sand, getting closer to the water each time around.[4]
    • If it is your first time, your horse may not want to go near the water at all.
    • It may take several trips before you can urge your horse into the water.
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    Steady your horse. Be patient with a nervous horse and don’t force it into the water. Once your horse seems ok with going into the sea, go at a slow walk. Horses sometimes get knocked off balance when waves hit their legs, so be ready to steady your horse with the reins and your legs.[5]
    • If your horse puts his nose down in the water like they are going to roll, discourage this by pulling up their head and urging them forward with your legs.
    • If your horse wants to roll in the shallow water and you don’t mind getting wet, you can let them roll. Just be careful to get out of the way.
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    Wear clothes and tack that can get wet. For your part, avoid wearing riding boots or anything that gets heavy or damaged when wet (like leather). Instead, wear light clothes you don’t mind getting wet in. As for your horse, you may want to ride bareback. If you do use a saddle, make sure the stirrups are easy to get out of.[6]
    • Using light stirrups is necessary for getting out quickly in case of a difficult situation in the water.
    • Don’t forget your riding helmet.
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    Care for your horse after the beach ride. When you get home, do a few things to refresh your horse. Rub it down with clean water to wash away salt water and sand. Clean any scratches and cuts because salt water contains microbes that can cause infection. Feed your horse small amounts of oats and hay over a few hours after they have cooled down.[7]
    • Also be sure to immediately wipe down and dry out any leather that got wet. Rub on a conditioner for leather.

Part 2
Preparing the Horse

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    Learn to control your horse at home. Before setting off to the beach, make sure your horse responds to your commands at home or in the arena. If your horse won’t listen to you at home, it certainly won’t listen when surrounded by the many sounds of the waves, other people, or other horses.[8]
    • Use short commands like “whoa” and “walk.”[9]
    • Use a calm but firm tone of voice. Horses will not answer to anger or shouting.
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    Get your horse used to walking through water. Before overwhelming your horse with a large amount of water at the beach, try getting them used to water at home. If you have trails nearby, find one with a rushing stream. Practice walking your horse through this small amount of water.[10]
    • Creeks are also excellent water areas to test your horse out on.
    • Approach the creek or stream carefully, urging them to cross slowly.
    • If your horse gets spooked, don’t force them to go into the water. Just keep exposing them to it.
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    Bring fresh water and a bucket. At the beach, you need to be prepared to keep your horse hydrated and fed. Bring your own source of water since ocean water is salt water. You also don’t know what kind of access to water you will find at different beaches.[11]
    • Also pack fresh hay for your horse to munch on. If your horse is rewarded while at the beach, they will start to associate the beach with good things.
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    Leave the halter on under the bridle. If you’re riding bareback at the beach, you need a way to lead your horse. Leaving on the halter under the bridle with a lead rope you can easily attach allows you to keep tabs on your horse when you’re not on it. [12]
    • Also use split reins so that the horse doesn’t trip while swimming.[13]
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    Shoe the horse properly. Make sure that you shoe the horse’s feet properly and then check their feet carefully after you get home. Sand can wear away hoof tissue in a big way. You may even want to put boots on your horse.[14]
    • Remove and wash any leg wraps or boots after you get home.

Part 3
Choosing a Beach

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    Find public beaches that allow horses. Not all beaches allow horses. In fact, many of them don’t allow horses at all. Look up local beaches online to read about their rules. You can also try calling a local beach and talking to the rangers about your desire to ride a horse on the beach. [15]
    • Some beaches section off areas where horses can ride.
    • Many beaches require a permit to ride a horse on the beach. In Florida, some permit seekers have to take a brief training course on protected species.[16]
    • In Florida, there is no requirement that you clean up your horse’s waste.
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    Investigate permit requirements. Once you locate a beach that allows horseback riding, find out what permits you need. The rules may be different depending on what type of rider you are. Riders who live by a beach and intend to ride often may need to take a training class. Riders who only want a permit for a day may not need a class.[17]
    • In St. John’s county in Florida, for example, there are three permit levels: master, general class 1, and general class 2.
    • You may have to watch a training video, take a quiz, and sign an application.
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    Choose a beach with ample parking. Make sure the beach you find has a lot of room for parking. You need to be able to park your horse trailer. Parking lots with spots for boats, like you see at marinas, are useful for this.[18]
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    Use a beach with low waves at first. Try to choose a beach with low waves, especially when you first start riding your horse at the beach. High waves can be loud and disconcerting for a horse. Low waves are much easier for them to handle.[19]
    • If you can’t find a beach with low waves, at least go at low tide and on a day that isn’t windy.
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    Ride on sand instead of pebbles. Horses need a firm surface to ride on. Try to find a beach with sand instead of rocks and pebbles. You may be able to find boots for horses if you can’t find a sandy beach.[20]
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    Rent a horse. If you don’t have your own horse for beach riding, you can go to a horseback riding company and pay to ride one on the beach. Many cities in coastal areas have companies that offer trainers and horses for a beach riding experience.
    • This is especially useful if you live far away from an ocean beach.
    • Some companies will offer you the full experience for a little over $100.[21]


  • Pay attention to your horse. Don’t push your horse into a situation like going into the water before it’s ready.


  • Be careful not to lose control of your horse. A fearful horse loose on the beach can be a hazard for everyone, including the horse.

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Categories: Riding