I wasn’t sure this was such a great idea. How could this possibly work? The kids could fall off. We could all be trampled. Did I mention it was raining? Riding horses with my kids for the first time didn’t start out as the most relaxing idea, but the moment we got seated on our mounts I calmed down and we had one of our most memorable family adventures.
Back Country Wilderness Outfitters, located in Long Beach, WA, has been helping families explore their equestrian side for years. They are the first and only trail ride U.S. operator that I have found that will let you ride tandem with your younger children. The staff was so friendly and didn’t blink an eye when my husband and I showed up with our (at the time) two and four year olds. They were happy to let the boys get comfortable and do something a little foreign and new.
We had no idea what we were in for.
Another family, who had their own horses at home, mounted their steeds first. It was just my husband and I, our two boys, and the mom of the larger group with her younger son. We were waiting for our horses. Little did we know how huge they were going to be.
Now I should have guessed this from the beginning. How was I going to sit on my horse with my four year old in front of me in a tiny saddle? The answer was we would need an extra-large saddle that went on an extra-large horse. I’m not sure if these big boys were Clydesdales or something much bigger, but these gentle giants did not mess around or skimp on their meals. I wasn’t so sure this was going to work, but it did.
I got on the horse, they put a pad over the horn and pommel of the saddle and my son popped on in front of me. The pad stopped the horn from digging into my son and made for a pretty comfy ride, or at least as comfy as it could be with the rain and all.
Our group set out single file and we headed towards the beach. Now one thing you need to understand about me is that I have a very romantic view of riding horses on the beach. You know those commercials from Jamaica with the couple riding through the quiet waves. Yup. That’s what I envision. In some ways that was what it was like on Long Beach, except we were only in the sand, not in the water.
No way was I going to go into that frigid mass. However, Pacific Northwest beaches are like nothing else in the country. Maine might come close. The sand turns to glass after the water touches it, reflecting the sky to create a mirror image of the scene around you. I’ve never seen that on a tropical beach. It’s a different kind of magic and fantastical ride on the shore.
Once we were on the beach we could break our single file pace and trek a little more loosely. The other group, who definitely knew how to ride, got to do a little trot, while my husband and I stayed at a nice even pace with the boys. In the back of my mind I kept seeing one of the boys fall off the horse, or my youngest crying the whole time, but he was having a blast. In fact, both boys loved it! Rain and all.
We got back from our trail ride and they were already asking when they could do it again. We’ve tried to go on other trial rides, but they are always too young to ride their own horse (and now at almost age 6, too nervous to do it on his own) or the stable doesn’t do tandem rides. I’m on a mission to find more, but by the time I find one my boys will be too big. I’ll just have to treasure our little adventure on the beach together I guess. Now they will just try to gallop away without me. Of course, they have never had a lesson, so the galloping will either be plain male stupidity or won’t happen at all. These growing years sure are going to be interesting.
Know Before You Go
- Back Country Wilderness Outfitters, 409 10th St SW, Long Beach, WA 98631
- Telephone: (360) 642-2576
- Price: about $25 per person (a steal for a trail ride on the beach!)
- Animals: these horses are loved. You can tell by the way they are cared for. They were well rested between rides. Some only do one a day. Each has a name and you can tell the handlers know these animals well. I felt very good taking this trail ride. In no way did I think or see mistreatment of the horses.
Many thanks to Back Country Horse Rides for the complimentary ride. As always, my opinions are my own. When they aren’t you will be the first to know.