Whether along ocean, lake or sea, horseback rides are a great way to be near the water when it might be too chilly to be in it yourself. Panoramic scenery, sea air, gliding birds, and the novelty of a very different ecosystem make beach rides valuable time in nature. It’s the chance to sense the maritime region’s soul and to enjoy a coastline that might not be pleasant for swimming but is ideal for wildlife appreciation and relaxation.
Whenever I think of horseback riding I imagine graceful stallions strutting seaside with their confident rider enjoying the wind through their hair. I was shocked when I found out that you can actually rent and ride horses in Monterey’s backyard, Salinas State River State Beach in Moss Landing to be exact!
Wanting to be the lucky gal up on the saddle I sought out the folks at the Monterey Bay Equestrian Center. The friendly owners Michael and Madaline Mastroianni met up with my riding group and I at the entrance of Salinas River State Beach. Eight noble steeds were already saddled up and ready for a jaunt on the beach. These muscular equines were certainly magnificent but I couldn’t help but feel a sense of fear rush over me, since this was my first time horseback riding.
Michael could see the nerves written all over my face and assigned me to “Angel” since she was one of the more reserved and patient horses of the bunch. After getting acquainted with my white and chestnut spotted mare it was time to climb aboard the saddle. Michael made me feel at ease as he guided my feet into the stirrups and gave me a few pointers; apparently it is important to hold the reigns like an ice cream cone.
After getting everyone adjusted we were ready to cowboy up! It was astonishing to see how well behaved these horses were. They automatically knew what to do and followed the leader, Michael, in a single file line without any direction from the riders.
Once we approached the open beach we were able to spread out a bit and take in the ocean air and coastal views that seemed to go on for infinity. You could feel the cool sea breeze combing through your hair while waves crashed beneath the horse’s hooves which were making indentions in the soft sand, just like I had imagined.
Angel was certainly living up to her name and remained calm and steady throughout the ride; no galloping for me please! I rarely had to pull on the reigns for her to slow down and she could make turns like a true champion. The 30-minute ride along the dunes was soothing and I found that my stint of hesitation was for no good reason at all.
Unfortunately my exhilarating ride had come to an end and made my fantasy of horseback riding on the beach a reality. Having one riding experience under my belt I think I am ready to take on Andrew Molera State Park in Big Sur!
Monterey Bay Equestrian Center offers guided horseback beach rides from one to two hours. Rides are tailored and personalized based on the rider’s ability. For reservations call 831-663-5712.
As the Content Manager at the Monterey County Convention & Visitors Bureau, Allyson manages digital marketing and social media for SeeMonterey. If she's not taking scenic pictures around the county, you are likely to find her on the Monterey Bay Coastal Rec Trail, sipping wine in Carmel Valley or hiking at Fort Ord National Monument.