Horses on Myrtle Beach!


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The very thought that I could ride my horse on the pristine white sand beaches along the gently rolling surf gave me goose bumps. I snapped this picture Thursday morning.

Ah, that sounds so romantic, doesn’t it? There is an allure to beaches and horses. When we went on our second honeymoon in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, we decided to go horseback riding. But decided against the beach ride for some reason.  Instead, we ended up on the side of a mountain on a very narrow path. But that’s not related to this post….

Honeymoon in Ocho Rios

Honeymoon in Ocho Rios

Did you know 1,200 horses take over the beach for five days to raise funds for the American Heart Association Beach Ride? We didn’t either, but we did know there was some horseback riding on the beach. This is the 34th year of this fundraiser. And allegedly, they have raised over $3 million dollars. There is no question, this is a worthy cause. Who hasn’t been affected by a family member or friend who has suffered from heart disease? I know we have lost a very dear relative to an early death due to a heart attack.

In the promotional information for this fundraiser, a woman shares her “testimony” in the left-hand column, “A Rider’s Perspective” in part when she first heard of the event:

The very thought that I could ride my horse on the pristine white sand beaches along the gently rolling surf gave me goose bumps.

We wanted to stay in Lakewood Family RV Campground this year. We visited it last time we were here and learned they have a nightly price of $25 if we stayed 30 days or longer. This is for full hookup (water, electricity, sewer and WiFi). While that is a bit higher than our desired per night price, to be on the beach, you expect it pay more $$$.  We generally don’t make reservations until the day before or day of our arrival. We are pretty astute about “prime time” and we know October is considered off season here.  So what a shock when we were told they were booked solid over the last weekend we wanted to be here.   Little did we know what a HUGE blessing it was that we were not able to get that reservation! We don’t want to be negative about this event, but there are a few problems.

We are actually “next door” to Lakewood, staying in PirateLand RV Campground. As it turns out, they also have the same price for 28 days or more.  And then we quickly learned this campground is actually better for our needs. For one, the campsites are bigger. And that is important now that we have a 40′ motorhome! But even better, the beach is so much wider and flatter.  We’ve walked up this beach for 2 1/2 miles, then back for a 5-mile walk nearly every morning. And this is worth paying a bit more per night!

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This is at the very end of PirateLand’s ocean front.

The horses began to arrive on Wednesday, a very rainy and dreary day. But Thursday morning, it was a glorious day as you can see from the above picture! We didn’t really think about walking with horses when we got on the beach, but realized quickly, we were glad we were there early – only because we are watching high tide.  And not many horses were, yet. You can see the horses do affect the beach. For a few horses, it wasn’t bad, until you begin to see horse manure! And they do like to poop on the beach….So the romance was over….But who can blame them? Doesn’t this look like fun?

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This was on our way back Thursday. The sun disappeared. Doesn’t this look like fun?

We stopped and talked to two women at one point. They were from New York and were appalled that the riders didn’t have to clean up the manure. Or that the horses didn’t wear bun-bags! They have to in New York apparently. And then they weren’t the only ones who were concerned. Other people we saw said it didn’t seem right dog owners are fined if they don’t pick up after their dogs.

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This was interesting to see on the beach! Can you see all the trampling caused by the horses now? The beach is really affected.

So now you may have guessed, all these horses can cause a bit of a disturbance to non-horse back riders. So aside from the trampling, which really impacted our ability to walk comfortably on the beach, and dodging all the manure, there were a few other issues. So much for the “pristine white sand.” We loved her thoughts for us as we walked barefoot on the beach….

If you read the info on the AHA website, they tell the riders a few things to do to make this a good experience for everyone. For one, they HAVE to clean up the manure at their campground sites…but not on the beach. Interesting.

Then they are told to not “cowboy” on the beach. Which means running the horses, etc. And as groups approach people on the beach, to all go to one side of them, not to put the people in the middle. The horses may not know how to properly react in this new situation. So we had a few “confrontations.”

Beach Walking

These riders were our first “scare” as they were at a slow gallop and a bit too close for comfort.

Not being horse people, it was unnerving. The first day, we heard the sound of galloping approaching us and one of the horses neighing. While there were only two riders this time, they were a bit too close for our comfort. So now we are being cautious. We managed ok until our 4th mile. And then we hear galloping again, but this almost sounded like a stampede! There were more than two and I glanced behind to see them heading right towards us! So I tried to jump out of the way (I am a bit of a jumpy person anyway) but in the soft, trampled sand, I couldn’t. I actually “fell” into Bill.  I was glad he could handle all my weight! Then the horse back riders nearly come to a stop right in front of us! What’s going on????  This was very upsetting. But the last straw was the cowboying.  One rider, as you can see below, was running his horse in “circles.”  We were trying to stay in one path, but the horse, seemed to want to get in our path, so we moved, then he followed….Are you getting the picture?

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Cowboying!

Ok, we’re not happy campers. In the beginning, we were very friendly, but by the time we finished our five miles, we didn’t even want to look at these riders. So we vowed the next morning to get out earlier and not have to share the beach. So today, we did better, got out before the herd…and it was better.

We talked to a neighbor of ours as we came off the beach. He said he was in Lakewood last year during the event. He said it was so crowded, he couldn’t leave the campground to get groceries. And even worse, he couldn’t even walk around the campground for five days! He told a few other stories about what a nightmare it was to be there and not be a horse person.

We don’t want to be negative about this event, but think about it! When they started this 34 years ago, Myrtle Beach in 1981 was a little-known destination. It wasn’t until the 1990’s that it began to grow. However, according to the Myrtle Beach Tourism website,

The Myrtle Beach Metropolitan Statistical Area was listed as the ninth-fastest growing area in the nation, according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics released in March 2011. The area has grown 37 percent over the past decade.

We’ve decided that 1,200 horses on a little beach area and all us beach goers don’t really mix very well. And we aren’t even addressing the potential ecological problems of all the manure and urine. One person said he wouldn’t go in this water for at least 6 months!

We hope and pray common sense begins to reign and this event is moved to a more remote location. So our recommendation, do your research if you are not a horse person. Don’t be here during this event! We’ll plan to not be here next year if they are at the same time….

If you are a horse person and want to attend, please read the literature and follow the instructions!

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This is their day two, beautiful weather. High tide was coming in at 4:00 pm so we thought no horses would be on the beach. So we are in beach chairs as this group ride by….

11 thoughts on “Horses on Myrtle Beach!

  1. How beautiful!! 😀

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  2. We have the same problem with horses on hiking paths. It isn’t much fun hiking on trails that horses can use, as well. We asked our friends who are horse but no longer have horses why one doesn’t have to pick up after a horse, but dog owners do. They said it was because of the composition of the poop. Horses only eat grains and hay so their poop decomposes easily and is good for the soil. A dog is protein eater and theirs isn’t as easily decomposed. I don’t think either should be able to just go anywhere and leave it. I can’t even begin to imagine the mess that beach was in when the horses finished!! What a shame!

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    • I actually did research on horse manure! And your friends are right. Australia has a worse problem than the US.
      The worst offense is the trampling. We’ve only hiked on a few co-mingled trails. we didn’t see the damage to the trail like we’ve seen on the beach. The high tide isn’t washing up far enough to settle the sand back down closer to the dunes.
      Interesting, I read the instructions for the participants and they are to switch their diets over two weeks out to just hay, or something. We have seen it washing away ok. But where the horses trampled the manure down closer to the dunes is where someone laying on their beach towel may be in for a surprise!
      And really the other issue is 1,200 horses on a beach where is walkers are, sun bathers and fishermen are not to mention children playing-is a disaster waiting to happen. I took some videos this morning where they were cowboying (not allowed per the rules) and one challenged us by brushing up close at a Gallup. I have the video!
      All we can do is stay away at this point, although hubby says to send our write up to the organizers. And now I have a few videos to further make our point….but we’re not trouble makers. But we’ve said our opinion. And we value yours and any others who care to pipe in!

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      • God sure is funny sometimes! The blog I read just before this was about whether the Greek word used in Philippians 3:8 (translated below as “rubbish”) actually a vulgar version of “dung”, and now here you are writing about avoiding horse manure on the beach… Remember, one creature’s waste products are fertilizer for food for other creatures – it is God’s design that “waste” be converted into good. Think also of phosynthesis, how the chlorophyll molecule in the chloroplasts of plants converts our CO2 “waste” to O2.

        So now, behold the glory of the ultimate exchange of waste for good: Jesus Christ, by whose blood our sin was exchanged for His righteousness – hallelujah!

        “I consider EVERYTHING a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.” (Philippians 3:8-9)

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      • Very good comments! Thank you, my dear sister! Ah, and how the Lord brought on so much rain to not only clean all the manure (happy to report it all seemed gone within a day) but healed the beach from all the “trampled” on sand! His ways are PERFECT!
        And the scripture I thought of after posting this was “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!” Psalm 150:6

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  4. How beautiful and what an interesting experience. Thank you for stopping by Tuesday Chatter to link your blog.

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  8. […] OK to stay there without a horse.  And if you read about our feelings about sharing space with horses from our time in Myrtle Beach, you may suspect we weren’t too excited about it. But we needed a place to stay! So when I […]

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