Some girlfriends and I have decided we need to reconnect and do a beach ride and camping trip in September. It’s been a while since we’ve all gotten together as a group. We’re all pretty close and all have similar good horsemanship goals and ride together in clinics as much as time and budgets allow. We’re pretty lucky in that respect. Not a lot of folks have quality people to ride with and support each other. And our tastes and backgrounds and ages differ quite a bit, as well as our skill-levels. Makes for amusing e-mail and campfire conversations! We’ve only been conversing in e-mail, so now it’s time for that campfire gathering!
Riding at the beach can beach great and it can be awful. Just like anything, it’s all what you make of it. I will give a few stories here, and share some pictures.
Ariel at the Beach
I was pretty lucky to have taken Ariel to the beach on two separate occasions.
The first trip I took to the beach was to Westport/Grayland, WA the first weekend in September of 2001. That year I had met a gal at a Ray Hunt clinic that I audited and she had graciously offered us a place to camp near Westport. My surfing husband and I took her up on that. It was shortly after we were married and we were making a dual trip of it; he was surfing in the early morning and late afternoon while I rode during middle of the day. We basically took turns napping in the camper.
That year, little known to us, a Washington State Parks employee was visiting the very same beach parking area that we parked at. He happened to take a picture of Ariel tied to our trailer and our dog Dune snoozing nearby. He later painted a watercolor picture from that photo. I stumbled on the original photo in a web banner on the WSP web site section on trails.
I e-mailed the webmaster for the site asking about the origin of the photo and that’s when I found out that the webmaster himself had taken the picture. He told me about the painting and pointed me to his web site showing the painting. I offered to buy a print from the painting, and much to my surprise he said he wanted to give me the painting, for free. Needless to say I was shocked and honored. The painting now graces one of the walls in our living room. A much-cherished memory of our time with Ariel, and Dune who passed away within a year of that trip, even though he didn’t make it into the painting.
This was one of Mark’s very early works and I just checked in on his web site recently and he certainly as come a long way artistically and technically from then!
In 2004, before we got Buena, our family took a trip down to the Oregon coast to a great campground at Nehalem Bay State Park south of Cannon Beach. I wish we had a nice state park like that here in Washington that had horse facilities. It almost makes me want to move to Oregon. Seriously! The corrals were great, the spaces were awesome to pull in with rigs and you can’t beat a hot shower after a good day of riding at the beach! Reservations are accepted, and most importantly recommended as the place is booked almost a year in advance for horse camping.
That year, we made a 4-day trip of it. Traveling across state lines meant having correct health papers, just in case. And there was no sense in going that far for just one or two days. I recruited a couple of good friends (from the group previously mentioned) to join my hubby, son, our dog, Ariel and myself.
We arrived on Thursday afternoon and got settled into our camp site. Here is Ariel in one of the corrals:
Once the other gals arrived and we all grabbed some dinner we saddled up for an evening beach ride right at sunset. It was one of the more interesting rides I had that weekend. Ariel was barefoot and there was a bizarre occurrence in the sand there at Nehalem. It was squeaky! I kid you not! The dry sand made the most bizarre, and quite loud, squeaking sound as the horses made their way on the dune trail out to the wide open beach. The wet packed sand closer to the surf wasn’t noisy, but that really dry stuff was. Ariel was a bit “up,” as she usually always was, but it wasn’t long before the group of us was making some seriously speedy tracks on the beach. Occasionally we’d move towards the water, but at sunset and with the dark quickly overtaking daylight, we didn’t want to get into any trouble. As it was, we rode until past dark and couldn’t find the exact trail between the dunes back to camp. We made it without issue, but we made note better throughout the rest of the weekend where the trail access points were to and from camp.
We had a great weekend. We rode two or three times a day. We spent great time around the camp fire eating yummy food a sipping wonderful beverages. We had good weather for the most part, after all it is the Pacific NorthWEsT coast. And coming home, I sort of took the truck, camper and horse trailer through the pick-up window at Wendy’s in Longview/Kelso...the manager was not happy, but his employees were laughing hilariously!
Here are some great pictures from that trip:
And here are some additional shots of Paddock Boy getting a ride in on one of my friend’s horses:
Buena at the Beach
In June of 2005, a larger group of the previously mentioned girlfriends took a trip to Westport/Grayland beach., the same area that I had visited with Ariel. We had decided not to camp, but make a day trip out of it. Looking back, it was a fun trip, but that trip convinced me that day trips aren’t the best thing to do when you live three plus hours from the coast.
Coming from various parts of western Washington, we all arrived at the parking area pretty much around 10 a.m. We were blessed with sunshine and moderate temperatures, the fog and low clouds just burning off as we readied ourselves to ride.
We make our way out to the beach. Many horses hadn’t been to the ocean, and probably a few hadn’t been on sand or in such a wide open area. Many of us took our time heading for the water. Eventually I managed to get Buena into some small tide pools and we did a lot of serpentines. In my early days of finding horsemanship, I would have drilled into the ground with one-rein stops, but I have since found that forward and serpentines is much better. Keep in mind, I maybe had 30 rides on Buena. I only had started her under saddle back in October 2004 and also had only ridden in one of Buck’s foundation classes in the November clinic here in this area. I had been riding, but Buena was (and still is) very green. I probably was sneaking rides more often than not, but I was having fun and that ultimately is what the journey is all about since I don’t ride for a living!
Back to the tide pools. The tide was going out that morning and there were plenty of tide pools and sand bars to be had. Miles and miles of them and a few hundred feet from the hide tide mark out to the surf. Our groups was pretty spread out. Some horses doing better than others, but everyone staying safe and having fun. At one point I was pretty removed from everyone. The nearest folks were probably a quarter of a mile behind me and working on keeping their horses mentally with them. Buena and I started going into bigger and deeper tide pools. We were doing pretty well...until we weren’t. Doh!
We entered into a large tide pool at the shallow end and as we worked our way towards the deeper end it got quite deep. We were up to Buena’s belly. Not a problem, that is until Buena decided she wanted to jump up to the top of the sand bar on our right. Normally, an unexpected jump isn’t a problem, but when I had my reins way too long and a foot goes through...well, I think you can see what is coming. I complicated matters by pulling on that right rein while she was lunging in the deep sand and water. The result? We went down. I came out of the saddle, complete submerged in the deep salty tide pool. Buena struggled a couple of times to get to her feet. She managed to get up and jump on top of that sand bar. I unlooped my lead from her leg and proceded to do groundwork and lead-bys and drive her in and out of the tide pool until she was okay about it. Eventually I got her to stand in the deep part of the tide pool and I remounted, very colt and wet, from the sand bar. We rode in and out and around the tide pool for a few minutes. No big deal. But the look on Buena’s face was priceless. She definitely did not like cold salt water and sand in her ears any more than I did. And she was completely submerged when she was down and flailing initially.
By the time I had gotten myself out of the tide pool and started the ground work a few friends had caught up with me. No one saw the fall and until they got up close, they didn’t even know we had taken a swim. They just thought I had gotten off to do groundwork. Once remounted, a friend helped me empty my boots of most of the water and we proceeded to catch up with everyone else. This is only 45 minutes or so into our ride!
My friends were so accommodating that we all headed back to the trailers to try and get me some dry clothes and also let my saddle dry out a bit. I managed to scrounge up dry clothes and put the wet ones in a spot to dry out in the back of my truck.
On our way back out to the beach about 45 minutes later I realize that my 60 foot rope that I had for a good 8 years was missing. The keeper on my saddle broke. And I also realized that one of my silver bracelets I had been wearing also was gone. Paddock Boy had given me the silver barbed wire cuff bracelet as a gift. I was bummed about both. I separated off from the group and beat tracks out to the area I thought we had been in to look for the items. Much to my dismay, the tide was coming in and it had rapidly overtaking most all of the tide pools. *sigh*
The rest of the day was uneventful and quite fun. We took turns doing all kinds of things and also challenging each other to races. This stretch of beach is pretty much uninterrupted for about 20 miles. Lots of room and much less crowded than the very popular Ocean Shores area on the north side of Grays Harbor.
Late that afternoon we went back to the trailers completely exhausted. To compound matters, the all sat our bums down in our camp chairs in the sun and rehashed our stories and sipped a cold beer. A decision was finally made, for those who stayed that late, that we should grab a bite of Mexican food for dinner in Aberdeen. It was pretty close to 6 p.m. at this point. By the time we all got to Aberdeen and then at dinner, it was around 9 p.m. We had two to four hours, depending on where we lived before we got home. Uh oh. It was one of the longest drives ever. And my eyes were heavy from being exhausted, and satisfied, by the events of the day. Once I hit the urban lights of Olympia I managed to catch a second wind. I pulled into the driveway that night at 12:30. I got Buena settled back in with Ariel and then went inside and collapsed into bed. I don’t recall if I showered, but I must have as the salt in my hair was crusty!
The next day was spent cleaning my take and my new chaps from all the salt and sand they had absorbed during our swim.
Wow. This turned into quite the book! I have been back to the beach with Buena since that day, but I will save that for another post and another day.
Jelly-making Post Script – I made a batch of currant syrup the other night. Last night, I whipped out a batch of blackberry syrup from the measly cup and a half of juice I extracted from the berries from my parents’ house. I must say, I really love those wild blackberries. I need to get me some more! Just licking the spoon and the pan while cleaning up...I was in blackberry heaven! I need to get me some more of those little black berries!!!