Nancy Mooers Brown & Pampa on a horseback riding vacation in Point Reyes
I could smell the ocean before I could hear it or see it. Like a hunting dog sniffing the air to catch a scent, I took a deep breath of the cold, salt air as we rounded the trees and took in the excitement of the moment.
My friend, who was old enough to drive, and fortunate to have her own trailer, had offered to take me and my horse to the Point Reyes National Seashore. This would be our first and only time riding on the beach and I remember the experience like it was yesterday.
Back in the Day – 1977
It was back in the late seventies, when I was a foot loose and fancy free teenager. My only care in the world was planning my next horseback riding vacation. My friend and I had taken the day to trailer to Olema, California for a day of horseback riding in the forested mountain tops down to the crashing Pacific Ocean below. When we finally reached the beach, the horses were a bit skeptical. I’d been told not to let them stand facing the waves or they might start swaying with the rhythmic motion of the ocean and tip over. Is this a wives tale?
Half Moon Bay City Council to restrict beach access to horse riders?
Fast forward to a November, 2009 City Council meeting taking place in Half Moon Bay, California. A portion of the meeting was devoted to restricting beach access to horse riders at Poplar Beach. Cowboy hats and boots filled the standing-room audience that evening to refute the perception that horseback riding on the beach created an accident hazard and that horses were the main cause of litter on the public beach.
Good news beach riding, equitrekking horse lovers. The City Council unanimously voted to disregard a proposed ordinance that would have restricted riding access to a 20-foot corridor at Poplar Beach. While the ordinance would have applied only to rental horses from two local riding facilities, private horse owners were showing their support to Willa Chapman, owner of both equestrian ranches.
Horses are permitted on another beach south of Poplar Beach, yet few other beaches on the coast and no state beaches allow equestrian access. I’m glad that horse lovers showed their support for Chapman, her Sea Horse Ranch and Friendly Acres, the only riding ranches in Half Moon Bay, California.
California Horseback Riding Vacations with Beach Access
Off hand, I can only think of four places in Northern California where the public can ride horses on the beach.