My ‘Horse Beach Experience’, seemed like a really good idea at the time. From the dreamer ‘everything is awesome’ part of my brain, came the thought process- I can get customers to pay me to take my horses to the beach…
On the outside, it all seems dreamy. On a hot day, I take the horses to the beach, and people can have sessions with them to enjoy riding them in the water. The problem is this thing called the weather. I don’t know about you, but it seems the forecasts have been getting it very wrong lately. It is always fluctuating, and we never really know what is coming.
Silver Sands is the ideal beach for what we are offering, the beautiful clear water, white sandy beach, the calm ocean- all very dreamy- on the right weather day. Unfortunately, Silver Sands is about a 1.5 hour horse float ride from home.
When I take my horses to the beach for me to play with, I can decide at very short notice whether we will go or not, sometimes even the night before. This makes it very easy to only go on days that are picture-perfect.
When there are paying customers, they need more notice. To add to the complexity, when there are multiple paying customers, which there are as we have 3 sessions per morning, to make it a viable offering for my business, yet still affordable for a customer.
Then we throw in the beach curfew. Council by-laws say horses need to be off the beach by 9 am. This leaves us with approximately 2 hours, to divide between 3 sessions. To make it to the beach in enough time means a 4:30 am start.
The other thing to consider is that while it is fun, it is also hard work for the horses. Swimming is really tiring. This is why I need to allow a rest session between each group, so the horses (and handlers) can have a breather.
Back to the weather. Since our sessions commence at 7 am, it is imperative that it is a hot day, in order for it to be warm enough at that time of the morning. As we need to lead the horses, (thanks insurance) it means the handlers will be spending 1.5 hours swimming, and if it’s a cold morning, chances are it is not going to be enjoyable. For horses, handlers OR the customer. It also seems that the water is calmer when the weather is hotter.
Due to the short notice thing, I have been selling sessions as vouchers, so when a suitable day becomes available, there are people already on hand to contact. The problem is that this offering has been so popular, and people want to book a date instantly. While I’d love to accommodate this, I just can’t go when the weather is not suitable, as it is not going to be an enjoyable experience for anyone! Then Mother Nature seems to have forgotten that summer is a thing, so we are still waiting for suitable weather.
Then throw into the mix transport issues. Early on in the piece, my float had an issue. The clydies are the horses I’m using for this offering. They are big horses, and finding a float to borrow for them has proved problematic. I have a float I could get the smaller horses in, but they haven’t been to the beach, so I don’t know if they’d like it, but also, they haven’t been ridden in years, so just wouldn’t have the required stamina. They also are much narrower, so would be quite uncomfortable to ride bareback.
What seemed like a really good idea at the time, is proving to be a bit more challenging than I anticipated. The enjoyment that our customers get out of the experience is so rewarding, and the horses having the health benefits of swimming, far outweigh the negatives, so hoping with a bit of tweaking, we can make a much more streamlined and easy offering for the rest of this summer, and next season!