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Holiday Photos: Horse Riding on the Beach, Victoria

Updated on September 15, 2013

A great escape from the everyday

One thing that always seems to crop up on my wish list of holiday experiences is riding a horse on the beach. I have been lucky enough to do this a couple of times now. Recently when I travelled down to Warrnambool on the south west coast of Victoria, I was thrilled to find there was a local stable which offered beach trail rides. This time I could share the horse riding experience with my son, who had never ridden before.

Image Credit: all images are © Frances: Ordinary Woman Press P/L

The only thing you need ... - ... apart from a sense of balance

The scenery is so gorgeous that you will want to get some photos as you ride. Bring along a small camera, one that can be tucked into a pocket or under a shirt front. You will need a neckstrap to ensure you don't drop the camera while you are riding. If you have your camera on a wrist strap, the camera will bang against the horse's shoulder.

Canon PowerShot ELPH 130 IS 16.0 MP Digital Camera with 8x Optical Zoom 28mm Wide-Angle Lens and 720p HD Video Recording (Red) (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
Canon PowerShot ELPH 130 IS 16.0 MP Digital Camera with 8x Optical Zoom 28mm Wide-Angle Lens and 720p HD Video Recording (Red) (Discontinued by Manufacturer)

When you ride, your hands are occupied with the reins. You need a camera you can operate with one hand, so you can keep one hand on the reins.

 
Nikon COOLPIX S01 10.1 MP Digital Camera with 3x Zoom NIKKOR Glass Lens (Silver)
Nikon COOLPIX S01 10.1 MP Digital Camera with 3x Zoom NIKKOR Glass Lens (Silver)

You want a small, light camera that will bang around on a neck strap, especially when you go for a trot or a canter. This Nikon one will take amazing, high resolution pictures of your ride, and you can use it one-handed.

 

Riding on the track to the dunes

We began our adventure by leaving the stables and riding down a fenced farm road which was really a tractor track between fields. At the end of the track lay the beach dunes.

Riding through marshland

Leaving the farm, and before we reached the rise of the dunes, we rode through an area where the fields to either side of the track were low-lying. Recent heavy rains had turned this area into a marsh for local birdlife.

Even though we were only a couple of minutes from a major highway, it was incredibly peaceful. The only sounds to be heard were those of the birds and the horses as they placidly moved along.

Riding along the back of the dunes

The dunes at the beach stretch high, and go all the way along this particular beachfront and protect the farmland beyond from the worst of the ocean winds. There are tracks through the dunes at low points, but even using these trails, we had to ride along the back of the dunes and uphill before we reached the trail that cut through the dunes and took us onto the beach.

First sight of the ocean from horseback

When we reached the top of the dunes, we had an amazing view. The Great Southern Ocean stretched before us as far as you could see.

Down the dunes to the beach

We rode from the crest of the dunes down the other side, through a narrow trail with sand packed high on either side. This part of the trail was shadowed, twisty and the high sand walls deadened sound, so suddenly emerging onto the beach with the waves crashing vigorously and loudly just a few metres in front of us was startling!

Waterfront!

Seeing a whale was memorable, but I think the afternoon we spent riding was more fun.

We ambled along the beach mostly in single file, then broke apart and those who were game tried going for a trot.

After that we had a photo session, with the riding leaders jumping off their horses and taking photos of the participants with their own cameras and mobile phones.

The fun part!

Now we got to the fun part. The leaders broke the group into two, with one leader taking the more experienced riders for a canter along the beach, while the less experienced riders stayed together for a stately (or wobbly!) trot.

About half the group rode off for a canter. Normally I'd have gone with them, but this time I was keeping an eye on my son who was riding solo for the first time.

What is it like to ride on the beach?

There is something about riding along a beach that feels immensely free. Part of it is being on horseback, and feeling the strength of the animal; part of it is the wind in your hair and the sound of the waves and the sea birds. Maybe part of it is the absence of limits as you look out to sea, the sight of unending ocean. Whatever it is, even riding in a group, I find it a bit magical.

Getting ready to ride back to the stables

After riding along the beach and back, and with the last photos taken, we gathered to ride back to Rundell's Farm. As we gathered, the wind whipped the salt spray off the incoming tide and created a lovely ghostly look over the beach, even though it was barely mid-afternoon and briliantly sunny!

Riding back through the dunes

We took a different route back through the dunes. With the wind at our backs, we started out moving well. But part of the climb was very steep, and as you can imagine, the horses were puffing before we got to the top.

Rest stop on the ride back

Just over the top of the sand dunes, we stopped at a lookout to gather the group and rest the horses. The view across the farmlands behind the beach was splendid, with the cloud shadows chasing across the fields below us.

More trails back to the farm

Then we took off for a single file ride through a narrow winding trail with sand walls as high as the horses shoulders, and with scrubby dense bushes which blocked our line of sight.

This trail twisted back on itself a couple of times, but the bushes were so high and dense that you couldn't see the lead horses through the bushes. Just a flicker of movement through the scrub told you that the trail was looping back as it wound down towards the track through the marsh and back to the stables.

Lots of goofy grins, stretching of legs and comments along the lines of "That was great!" followed back at the stables.

Would you like to try riding on the beach?

Firstly, all the horses are really quiet, easy-going and used to all kinds of riders, so you don't have to be frightened of them. So with that scary factor out of the way, what do you think? Is this for you?

Would you like to go for a ride on the beach?

See results

Summary: The essential info

Can you go riding on the beach if you haven't ridden a horse before?

Rundell's Mahogany Trail Rides operates out of a farm less than 10 minutes drive from the city centre of Warrnambool.

With steady, quiet horses of all sizes, Rundell's provide your boots and helmets. Staff ride with each group to make sure everyone has a safe and enjoyable experience.

My son had been on pony rides where he was led around on horseback, but he had never been in control of a horse before. The staff assured me they would put him on a quiet horse, and sure enough, he was given a part Clydesdale to ride. If you think that's a big horse, well, a pure breed Clydesdale is, yes. But one that is a half breed and crossed with something much smaller makes for an extremely placid, bombproof pony.

With a quick how-to on steering, starting and stopping, he was ready to go.

The ride takes you through the back of the Rundell's property to the sand dunes, and you navigate trails through the dunes to reach an stunningly beautiful stretch of ocean beach.

The group breaks up into two when you reach the sand, with novice riders doing a slower-paced trail ride - walking and trotting - along the beach, while more experienced riders have the chance to stretch their horses into a exhilarating canter.

I'd love to hear your thoughts, so leave a comment here!

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    • FrancesWrites profile image
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      FrancesWrites 3 years ago

      @DawnRae64: Thank you for visiting :)

    • DawnRae64 profile image

      Dawn 3 years ago from Maryland, USA

      Love the photos. thank you for sharing.

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 3 years ago from Colorado

      This is my vision of bliss. How I would love to experience what you have so beautifully shared here. Just gorgeous.

    • profile image

      changrcoacher 4 years ago

      Two of my favorite things in the whole world...horses and beaches! I once owned a property on the Carmel River and we rode thru the river to Carmel Beach....fantastic!

    • FrancesWrites profile image
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      FrancesWrites 4 years ago

      @favored: All fixed now, thank you very much for drawing it to my attention!

    • FrancesWrites profile image
      Author

      FrancesWrites 4 years ago

      @favored: All fixed now, thank you very much for drawing it to my attention!

    • FrancesWrites profile image
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      FrancesWrites 4 years ago

      @favored: I am blessed to have the opportunity to share a different part of the world :)

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 4 years ago from USA

      Just a note, your link to the whales site isn't working.

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 4 years ago from USA

      I love both riding and the beach. To do both would be great. Thanks for showing us a part of the world we may not ever get to see.

    • FrancesWrites profile image
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      FrancesWrites 4 years ago

      @mel-kav: Glad you enjoyed it mel-kav :)

    • mel-kav profile image

      mel-kav 4 years ago

      I agree with you about feeling totally free while horseback riding on the beach. It is a great feeling. I enjoyed your lens.

    • Snakesmum profile image

      Jean DAndrea 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Heading to Warrnambool tomorrow for a bit of whale-watching, but don't think we'll have time for a horse ride. :-(

    • profile image

      mina009 4 years ago

      Such a lovely experience! Thank you for the lovely tour through your beautiful pictures and narration.

    • FrancesWrites profile image
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      FrancesWrites 4 years ago

      @ArtbyMAR: It's an undemanding way to give riding a try. When you tell the stables that you are not a rider, they can give you a horse that behaves like a walking armchair!

    • profile image

      ArtbyMAR 4 years ago

      Your pictures are gorgeous! I am not one for horse back riding but I think I would like riding on a beach.

    • FrancesWrites profile image
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      FrancesWrites 4 years ago

      @Aibrean82: Measuring the distance between the east coast and the west coast of Australia, at it's widest point Australia is a tiny bit wider than the entire United States. Most people don't realise this - the drive from Melbourne to Sydney alone is nearly 900 kilometres! So yes, the distances will take some getting used to! :)

    • Aibrean82 profile image

      Aibrean82 4 years ago

      @FrancesWrites: That is definitely closer. I am still trying to get used to the vast distances in Australia. Norway is such a small country in comparison! Thank you for the information - the address has been written down and I am already giddy with excitement at the thought!

    • FrancesWrites profile image
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      FrancesWrites 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Thank you :)

    • FrancesWrites profile image
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      FrancesWrites 4 years ago

      @mayraborcea: You are right, Mayra, it is really peaceful and grounding to be in contact with the horses and with nature. Riding through the dunes makes you feel like there is hardly anyone else on the planet, only the horse and rider in front of you. It's briliant!

    • FrancesWrites profile image
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      FrancesWrites 4 years ago

      @Aibrean82: Hi Ada, when you get here, there is also a fantastic beach riding experience on the Mornington Peninsula. It's about 1-1.5 hours drive out of the city, so it's much closer than Warrnambool. Check out redballoon.com.au for the details!

    • FrancesWrites profile image
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      FrancesWrites 4 years ago

      @Meganhere: I'm sure you'll love it when you do it! :)

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      forkliftsafety 4 years ago

      Riding on the beach - what a lovely idea!

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Great pictures! It looks like a lot of fun.

    • mayraborcea profile image

      mayraborcea 4 years ago

      Oh my God!! I love horseback riding!!! My daughter loves it too! It is so peaceful to be in contact with animals and nature...Yes, you did a wonderful lens! Thanks for sharing it with us!

    • Aibrean82 profile image

      Aibrean82 4 years ago

      Fantastic! I am just about to move to Melbourne (all the way from Norway - the other side of the planet) and love horses. I had my own horse for ten years and miss riding. I am sooo going to check this out! :)

    • Meganhere profile image

      Meganhere 4 years ago

      I'd love to do this with my sons!