This guest post is written by Ruby from Equipepper.
For many horse owners, riding their horse on the beach is on their bucket list. When you live in central England, one of the must-see beach destinations is North Norfolk. Norfolk is made even more desirable when every year you see photos from the Household Cavalry taking their horses there for a mini holiday.
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There are a few beaches in Norfolk you can take your horse to. But the most popular is Holkham, where the Household Cavalry go. There didn’t used to be any restrictions on when you could ride on the beach here. But due to the increase in popularity, weekends and holidays are now limited to 6-11am and 4-6pm. This is still better than many beaches in the UK.
If Norfolk is a bit far for you, you can find a list of other beaches in the UK you can ride on here.
Also read: Guest post about Ecuador
Holkham has good parking on a first come, first served basis, making day trips very easy. You can park up and ride straight onto the beach until you are ready to go home again. Not many beaches make it this easy. But if you live a bit further away or want to spend a few days at the beach, there are also plenty of options to turn it into a horse riding holiday mini break. There are plenty of yards within hacking distance of the beach that offer holiday board for both horse and rider. From a paddock for your horse and sleeping in your lorry, to a stable for your horse and Bed & Breakfast for you, there are lots of options.
But if you are happy to search around a bit more, there are smaller yards and equestrian set ups available, some are even closer to the beach!
Unfortunately, not all of our horses would make an enjoyable beach ride. Whether they are difficult to hack, injured or lacking confidence, there are plenty of reasons why you might not want to take your own horse to the beach. But that doesn’t mean you have to miss out! Many riding schools along the coast will offer beach rides on one of their horses. At Holkham, Hot To Trot school of equestrian offer beach rides from £120 (although currently not running due to Covid). While this can sound a bit expensive, once you add up the time and cost of transporting your own horse to the beach, it really does sound reasonable! Once you have finished your ride you can go straight to the pub or to the chippy without worrying about your own horse.
I have taken my ex-racehorse Scottie to the beach a couple of times over the years, always to Holkham. I just think it is a fantastic experience for both horse and rider. The first time we went, I had only had Scottie a month. He had been out of racing a year, but had been with a Point to Point trainer, so hadn’t had much in the way of retraining. We are creatures of habit, and it is very easy to just stick to the same rides over and over again. Now while going out for any ride, even if it’s the same ride you do every week, is better than never leaving the yard. Sometimes it is good to force yourself to try something new and go further afield. The beach can be the perfect excuse for this. Yes, it can be a bit daunting. It is a big open space after all, so there are some horses who might find that a bit too exciting, especially in a bigger group. Although I am yet to meet a horse to be really silly at the beach. Also, because it is such a big open space, there isn’t much for them to spook at. There is also plenty of space to work through any dramas you have. You have space to circle or slowly pull them up if they decide to get a bit speedy. Our very first time at the beach, none of our horses would go past the waves. After a few failed attempts, another group of riders appeared, and their horses happily walked into the waves. I was able to get Scottie to follow them in. After this we were able to lead the rest of our group in and out of the sea for the rest of our trip.
Since then, Scottie quite likes the water. He usually makes a beeline for the sea. We would have had a lot more difficult hacks if Scottie hadn’t enjoyed the sea so much. While he has never been confident jumping or stepping down into water, he is usually the one to lead our hacking herd through the river or into the water complex. I don’t think he would have been so confident if we hadn’t had such a positive experience early on in our time together.
It’s been years since we last went to the beach and now Scottie is semi-retired, slowly coming back into work after an injury and more recently an arthritis diagnosis. But going back to the beach is definitely on our bucket list. I really think it should be on yours too!
Also make sure to check out the guest post I wrote for Equipepper, you can find it here.
Interested in more rides in England? Make sure to have a look at the links below.
Three days of horse riding in Cornwall: trail riding, beach rides, and carriage driving.
Seven day scenic horse riding holiday in Cornwall.
Four days of horse riding in Exmoor national park.
Eight day horse riding holiday: Dartmoor crossing in Devon.
Also read: Horse riding in Wales
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