One of my dreams of having horses in Florida is riding along a sandy beach bareback and swimming with my horse in the ocean! A reasonable dream, I would have thought. That is until I did some research to find out exactly where I could go and ride my horse on a beach.
It seems that my dream of being free and riding along the shoreline is not one that is easily achieved in Florida. Maybe it is also difficult throughout the rest of the United States, something which I would have to research more. But certainly, my home state is one in which the authorities make it extremely difficult. When I first started my research, I was disappointed in the lack of information. Then after much research, I was also disappointed at the number of places where I could legally take my four-legged friend for a swim.
Not only are there very few places, but those that do exist are hard to get to, need permits and have lots of rules. At first, I found this infuriating, but after reading and researching more, I came to realize that some of the reasoning behind the rules and regulations makes sense. There are many complaints, mostly from local residents who live alongside beaches that have allowed horses to use them. The main concern is the lack of care by the riders themselves in not cleaning up after their horses, which is something, that I have to say I totally agree with. If I were to be lucky enough to live close to the beach, I would certainly be upset if people using it for whatever reason, were to leave it unclean.
The total tidal shoreline of Florida is 2,276 miles although that sounds a lot, of that there are only 663 miles of accessible beach, the rest of the coastline is comprised of mangrove swamps and wetlands. The total population of Florida is 19,552,860 as of July 2013, and the population is growing at an extremely fast rate, mainly due to the number of people wanting to retire down here in the sun. So I do understand that the number of places where animal lovers can ride their horses and take their dogs to the beach needs to be regulated. However, I hope that even with the population growth, there will always be a designated stretch of coastline that is kept open for horse riding and dog walking.
I still have a dream of riding bareback along the beach, and to help others I did find out lots of information on where to ride horses on the beach in Napes. However, it would be good for us all to take note that the rules that exist are to help keep the beaches clean for everyone to use, hopefully, horse riders and dog lovers will take note and make cleaning up after themselves part of their beach trips in the future. So that hopefully, the small number of beaches that are accessible to us will remain that way for many years to come.