One of our most popular episodes of Horse Master is an episode that was filmed on a warm and sunny day at the beach of Martha’s Vineyard last summer.
It’s about a young event horse (combined training) that is a little spooky and resistant at times. In fact, earlier in the year he had bucked off his owner on a cross-country jump course and broken her collar bone. Since she was still not cleared to ride, I did all the riding on this horse during the filming and our goal was to get him into the ocean—tolerating the crashing surf—for the very first time. I figured if we could do that, she ought to be able to get him over just about any obstacle. And since she lives on the island, she wanted to be able to enjoy an occasional ride on the beach (who wouldn’t?).
But as we approached the ocean, the horse was already balking before we got close to the water. For a few moments, I wasn’t sure if I could get the horse anywhere near the surf. But I stuck with my plan, which was to keep the horse zigzagging back and forth, always turning him TOWARD the obstacle (which in this case was the ocean) and it wasn’t long before we were up to the water’s edge.
Getting his feet actually in the water took a little more convincing. You know how hard it is to get your toes in the cold water? What’s not obvious from watching the show is that the shoreline was actually pretty steeply sloped and the bottom dropped off quickly once you were in the water. There were a few times when both the horse and I were experiencing some vertigo as the waves were rushing out beneath us. You can tell in the show. Watch when the horse starts moving sideways with the receding waves. At one point we were in up to his belly and a big wave crashed right over the top of us. At another point he tried to jump over a wave and just by the skin of my teeth I was able to stay on—I really thought I was going for a swim that time. Unfortunately neither of those cuts made it into the show.
In most episodes of Horse Master, what you see on the show is most all of the training that occurred, but in some episodes, like this one, it takes a little longer to train the horse than we can show because of the time constraints, so some footage has to be cut. In this case, I doubt more than five minutes of actual training time was cut out. Surprisingly, I had the horse in the waves and tolerating it pretty well within a half an hour. It was a very fun ride and one of my favorite episodes to date.
I, like most people, have always harbored fantasies of riding on the beach. How about you? It was cool to be able to have an excuse to do it again. Martha’s Vineyard is one of the few places left where you can still ride on the beach and I hope to go back there someday for another ride—maybe this time it would be okay to ride a horse that was already accustomed to the surf!
All the best,