Thursday, September 24, 2009

Life’s a Beach

Our boys taking snooze in the sun—all worn out from a day on the beach!

This week my friend Patricia and I took two of our horses to Ocean City, WA, a sleepy little town on the Pacific Ocean. We rented a sweet little studio apartment a few blocks from the ocean at a place outfitted for horses. There was a small round pen to keep our horses in and even a compost bin for manure. Each day we could saddle up and ride down the peaceful street to the ocean public beach.

Patricia and Felix on the beach.

The beach was a vast expanse of flatness—as long, as far as the eye can reach. Just beach to the left and to the right. With ocean reaching endlessly forward, over and over.

The horses’ reactions were unpredictable: young Felix was as unflappable as ever, even with waves, seaweed, vehicles driving on the sand. Nothing fazed him. Older Harley was unnerved by almost everything that came along including plastic bags, a passing gull, driftwood and seaweed. He kept tourists on the beach entertained with his sudden, unexplained shying at an odd piece of sea kelp or an old bag. Even so, it was fun observing new things and trying something new with the horses. The dogs thoroughly enjoyed the romp along the beach as well.

Alayne, Harley and Saylee at Ocean City.

I must admit that our favorite part was breakfast at the Shilo Inn in Ocean Shores; the yummy blueberry pancakes and the pleasant and friendly staff there were a wonderful way to start out a gray morning.

2 Comments on this post:

GirlWithCurls said...

I really appreciate this post. Renting a vacation apartment is always dicey (could be fun or it could be a terrible mistake), and I'm usually never brave enough to risk involving my horse. Having a local scope out a vacation spot and return with an honest and positive report is extremely valuable to me. Thank you Alayne.

Sharon Yildiz said...

Hi, I just found your blog today. I don't have a horse, but frequently trail ride with friends. I have a question--how do you teach your dogs (obviously at least one is an Aussie) not to chase the horses or run into the roads?

I'm a dog obedience/herding/agility competitor at very high levels, and I would not DREAM of allowing my dogs off-leash that close to a road. Though they instantly come when called, they have zero fear of traffic and run out ahead or to the sides as much as 100 yards.

I've always had competitive working stockdogs (BCs and one ACD), and introduced them very young to horses from the ground. Though controllable (barely) with voice commands, every one of them wanted to chase the horses. When they grew up, they still wanted to chase and bite at passing horses.

So how do you get an Aussie to NOT chase the horses? Did you keep the dogs on leash as pups? Did you begin having them follow the horses at a very young age (like 7 weeks or so)? Did they learn by following older, trained dogs? Did you do some kind of aversion training with cars--having somebody drive by and throw a bucket of water, etc.?

I see people going with dogs on trails occasionally, and am amazed such a thing is possible, particularly with a herding breed...