According to Benjamin Disraeli, ‘a canter is a cure for all evils’. Fortunately I’m not plagued by that many evils at the moment, but I was still glad of a chance to blow away the cobwebs when I went beach riding in Pembrokeshire, courtesy of Nolton Stables.
It seems to have become a tradition that whenever I go on holiday, I will find somewhere to go horseback riding. Ok so it’s a slightly expensive tradition, but I reckon there’s no better way to explore the countryside than from the back of a trusty steed – it gives you a height advantage if nothing else! I’ve had some amazing rides across places like Bodmin Moor and North Wales, but my favourite way to pass an hour or two is charging through the surf on a beach.
I’ll happily ride in all weathers, but after two days of rain and gale force winds in Pembrokeshire I wasn’t disappointed that summer chose to make an appearance on the day I’d booked to ride. ‘It’s always like this here!’ I was told when I arrived at Nolton Stables – and as I lounged around the sunny yard playing with a friendly ginger cat I could have easily believed it.
Aside from one other individual, the rest of the ride consisted of a gaggle of 10-year-old-ish boys who were on a residential school trip, so I spent a good 10 minutes moaning at them that my school was never as fun as theirs. I think their teacher appreciated it. Most of the lads had never sat on a horse before, but with around 150 horses and ponies to choose from Nolton is able to cater for every level of ability, so anyone who wants to can experience thrill of riding on the beach. Based on my previous riding experience I was assigned to ‘Ace’, who turned out to be a gorgeous black cob that very much lived up to his name. Apparently he’s a favourite with the regulars at the stables, and I am still hatching plans to kidnap him.
A short but scenic off-road hack took us from the stables down to the beach at Druidstone Haven, which Nolton can ride on all year round. Once down on the sand we divided up into ability groups. Those who were new to riding were able to walk and trot through the surf, whilst the more confident riders went further up the beach where there was room to build up some speed.
The next hour went far too fast for my liking, though we got in plenty of canters through the surf and Ace proved that cobs can have a mean turn of speed when they want to. I also ended up eating about half the sand on the beach while the other half plastered itself to my face and clothes, but then that’s all part of the fun of beach riding. And fun it absolutely is!
Why not give it a go if you find yourself near the coast this summer?
Tel: 01437 710360 Email: email@example.com
Nolton, Nr Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, Wales SA62 3NW
1.5 hour Beach Ride – £46 (2015 price). Nolton also offers a range of other rides from 1 hour countryside hacks to full day rides – check the website for details.
They also offer sessions of Segway and Zorbing (or ‘rolling down a hill in a giant hamster ball’ as I explained to my dad) – a great way to placate any non-horsey partners/family/friends/etc if they don’t feel like watching while you have all the fun.
Other UK Beach Rides
Studland, Dorset: http://www.studlandstables.com/
Woolacombe, Devon: http://www.woolacombe-ridingstables.co.uk/
Holy Island, Northumberland: http://www.kimmerston.com/