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I think that cantering along a sandy ocean beach is something that is on every rider’s To Do list. In fact, I know quite a few non-horsey people who swoon to the image of themselves splashing through the surf on the back of a beautiful steed. I’m no exception, and, despite Pai’s Arab-y squeamishness about getting her toes wet, I decided to make the dream come true this afternoon.

I’d spent yesterday afternoon scouting out likely beaches along the North Shore between Cavendish and Darnley, with little success – the beaches were either too short to be satisfying, or had no easy access on horseback. The last place I checked out was at the end of County Line Road, and I hit the jackpot. It’s got over 2 km of sandy shoreline – more if the tide is fully out – and easy access from the road.

Short end of the beach.

Long end of the beach.

As I was saddling up at the top of County Line Road, a car pulled up and a gal approached me and started chatting away. Turns out she had me confused for someone she was expecting, named Joanne. She introduced herself as Tanya, and she invited me, next time I was at the beach, to park right up by her cottages along the dunes.

In the late afternoon, there were still a few people on the sand, but most of them gradually wandered back to their cottages while we were there, until we had an almost empty beach to ride along.

Pai was as reluctant as ever to approach the horse-eating waves – so gentle and tiny that they couldn’t even be called “surf” – and so we spent the first saunter down the beach hugging the dunes well away from the horse-eating waves. On the trip back down the beach, we got a little closer. We had a trot, and a canter. And then, happily, we ran into Joanne, who was wading and swimming with her gelding. Pai managed to overcome her horror of the waves in order to hang out with this new boyfriend (although she did perform some unexpected leaps over approaching waves – turns out taking your horse to the beach is a good way to develop a more secure seat). I was dying to go for a swim, but the ritzy dressage saddle with cell phone in the saddle bag put the kibosh on that idea.

Before we got close to the water, I started chatting to a couple who commented on Pai’s loveliness. When I said I was from BC, the woman said, “You’re not in Ellerslie, are you?” I said I was.  Turned out she was my cousin Alan’s wife Carol’s sister Janice with her husband Terry, who had been witness to Pai’s prison-break gallop around the hayfield the day we arrived. Janice had been thinking that this horse on the beach looked like the horse she’d seen running around like a wild thing that night, but that horse looked so much more fiery. And so much bigger.  (See – I said she was looking like a pale version of the black stallion, didn’t I?)

Janice issued a dinner invite, which I may just take her up on by dragging my Standardbred-loving cousin Alan up there with me on a date.

I’ve also got Joanne’s contact info, so with any luck, we will get together for some trail rides together. And there’s no question that I will be back to this fabulous beach.

I got back to the barn just as the sun was setting over a mirror-still river. By the time I unloaded my gear and got down to the cottage, this is what I was lucky enough to see:

Moonrise over Pai’s barn.

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