Let’s talk about the episodes filmed at Martha’s Vineyard. Wave Runner is one of my favorites. Partly because I got to do all the riding in this one and partly because we were at the beach. We took a young eventing horse named Poco, and introduced him to the surf for the very first time.
It’s one thing to cross still water and it’s a little harder to get a horse to cross running water, like in a stream. But at the ocean, when the waves are coming in and out—it’s a whole other story. The owner was recuperating from a broken collar bone, having been thrown from her horse earlier in the year, so she could not ride—leaving it all up to me. When I first approached the surf, I couldn’t even get within 50 feet of the water without him balking on me. For a moment, I thought I might not get him in at all.
Surprisingly, within about 10-15 minutes, I had his front feet in the water but he was shucking and jiving at every wave—leaping sideways and up in the air. Although there are some pretty wild scenes in the show, I am not sure the camera really conveyed the challenge of the ride. For one thing, the shore was very sloped, which doesn’t show too much on film. And the drop off once we were in the water was severe, so once I got his whole body in, we were suddenly up to his belly.
And then there was the vertigo—we both got it from the waves and sand moving in and out. I could tell that when I felt the vertigo, the horse was feeling it too because he would start walking sideways. With vertigo, you lose your perspective and are not really sure what direction you are moving. It’s a bit disconcerting.
Almost all the footage of this training session was included in the show—maybe 10-15 minutes were cut due to the time constraints. At one point, Poco jumped so hard that I thought I was going for a swim without him, but I managed somehow to stay on and keep going. Unfortunately, I think that part was cut.
By the time it was all said and done, I had Poco standing belly deep in the ocean with waves crashing into him and we were both soaking wet. It was one of the most fun times I’ve had on a horse in a long while. Although the horse was a big chicken, he tried really hard and finally sucked it up and went for it.