Patriot and I had a blast. The beach is an excellent training opportunity for horses. It's the closest thing you can get to the noise of a large crowd and can be overwhelming to a horse. Washington is completely lacking in large horse venue's like Will Rogers Stadium in Texas, so we headed to the next best thing...the ocean. The waves, the constant din of the surf, the seagulls, the people, the kites, the paint ballers, the cars..the CARS? Well, yes, cars. Here in Washington, you can drive on the beach, right up to the waves. So that means, horses and humans give way to the 4 wheelers.
We spent three days on the beach, playing in the surf, practicing our cantering, and riding over the dunes. Patriot was fantastic. The group headed out to the beach for the first time with a bit of trepidation, not really knowing how Pate would react to the chaos that is the beach. But, I knew! Pate has always had a level head about all things scary and this weekend was no exception. He walked out onto the beach, leading the group and right into the water! The surf got his attention, but after it lapped his legs for a few minutes, he was standing quietly in the water, doing his best imitation of a fish. Sea water and seaweed were a huge draw! The group laughed out loud as he slurped the water and ate the seaweed floating in it! In fact, he was so enthralled, that I had to drag his head out of the water constantly, worried that he would drink too much salt water!
At one point, we encountered a fellow flying a rather large kite. He was rather adept at flying it. He had grounded it when he saw us coming, in order to not get us hurt, as most horses spook and shy at kites. But we signaled to him to take it up again to provide a training opportunity. After the horses settled, we asked him to drop the kite to about 6 feet off of the ground, so we could ride up to it. The kite was about 5 feet across and 4 feet tall with 20 foot dual tails and made a lot of noise. Pate walked up to within 5 feet of the flying beast and stood there. I was so pleased. It's not everyday you can ride a horse up to a flying kite!
Drinking the salt water
I know it sounds too good to be true, but Pate was amazing. He handled the kites, cars, surf, and paintballers with hardly a second glance. It is truly a pleasure to ride a horse that doesn't start and spook and bolt at everything. It was just a relaxing ride down the beach. Not that he was perfect. He did spook once or twice, but I can hardly remember them.
Every time I ride this horse, I fall deeper in awe of him. He sure has the best mind! As a trainer, I LOVE a horse with a great mind. It's more important than anything else.