I’m a beach baby.

My home town is very close to the beach, only a few miles or so. Those few miles weren’t much to stand between me and the ocean. I used to ride my bike to the beach during the summer, even though the water was much too cold to go into most of the time. Thank Massachusetts, I appreciate the North Carolina water much more.

I find myself jealous of the barns in the Outer Banks. I find myself, even more so, jealous of my younger self. She used to delight in loading her pony up in the trailer, and heading to the beach with a bunch of barn pals.

Sounds like a great time, right?

Imagine it, especially if you’re a beach loving lady like me. The wind is a little strong, but it’s salty and it excites the horses. Only in the best way, somehow. The horses sense it’s a new place, they hear foreign sounds, and most of them are somewhat confused. But it develops into excitement quickly when we mount up and all of us start walking towards the sand.

Though the beaches aren’t open for riding year-round, there’s something special about going to the beach when there isn’t anyone there. Typically, the beach opens mid to late fall and stays open until the spring. Let’s face it though, for anyone who has lived in New England there’s not a whole lot of summer to go around and so the opportunities to ride on the beach are often.

There might be a person or two, maybe with a dog taking a walk. There might be a stroller and a mom, taking in the sights even though it’s less than 45 degrees out (remind me why we lived in a place where the air hurt our faces!). The wind whips the salty air against your face, and your horse starts to jig a little. You don’t mind today, especially when lots of your horse’s friends are nearby to help soothe him.

The walk down the bridge makes some of the horses uncomfortable, if only because they can hear the hollow sounds coming from beneath the wood. It reverberates, and some of the horses even jump the last board to land in the sand.

Riding a horse while they walk on the sand is such a funny feeling. Some horses don’t care for it, and they scramble to get solid footing. They prefer to walk a little bit closer to the water, where the sand is just a hair more solid. And suddenly, you’re walking beside one of the most powerful things in the world, atop a horse.

If that’s not magical, I really don’t know what is.

I loved taking my pony, Dezy, to the beach. He loved it, too. Even though I wasn’t always comfortable trying new things as a younger rider (wait, that hasn’t changed much), trips to the beach were somehow ethereal. Other worldly, almost.

“Becca, do you want to try going in the water?” My trainer asked, one fateful trip to the beach. My head said no, but my heart said yes. I nodded, grabbed the strap of my martingale, and followed her into the surf. It must have been a little comical at that point, a small nervous child riding an excited pony into the ocean. Dezy hopped a little when the first wave hit him, but then he began to play. And his play was infectious; I was quickly just as excited to play in the water. He struck the sand, bucked at the waves…

Out of this world. Needless to say, should you get the chance to take your favorite four legged friend to the beach, you absolutely should.

When we left the beach that afternoon, life somehow felt fundamentally changed. Nothing had ever struck me as powerful, as that incredible as the ocean had while riding my horse.