If you've ever read a romance novel or seen this classic scene on the silver screen, you've probably fantasized about riding a horse on the beach. It truly is a unique experience to gallop on the sand and through the surf from atop a beautiful steed.
However, the city of Myrtle Beach and surrounding municipalities have laws against horseback riding on the beach for most of the year. After all, no one wants to trample an unsuspecting tourist. The sport is limited to the winter months (November through February in Myrtle Beach and Horry County) when there's plenty of room to ride a horse.
Some outfitters have year-round access to private stretches of beach, while others offer inland trails where you can ride through the scenic woodlands and wetlands of the Carolina backcountry. No matter which view you choose, few experiences can match spending a day in the saddle with a calm and patient four-legged companion.
All outfitters accept riders with no or limited horseback experience and allow their horses and patrons to get acquainted in a safe environment before hitting the beach or trail. Children can ride in a buddy seat with an adult or go solo aboard a trustworthy steed. Experienced guides and lead horses maintain close control over the pack.
Most outfitters provide everything you need, including the horses, saddles, and even rental space in their stables where you can board your own horse while on vacation. Riders should come prepared to have a good time while maintaining a calm demeanor to develop trust with their horse, and dressed appropriately - jeans and closed-toe shoes.
Horseback riding is a fun experience for families, couples and groups, and provides a chance to spend a day in the great outdoors. Put down the cell phones and get back to nature with a ride that is far more memorable than a roller coaster or a water slide. Here are three of the top horseback riding outfitters in the Myrtle Beach area:
Horseback Riding of Myrtle Beach: Based on the outskirts of Conway, about a half-hour drive inland from the beach, this outfitter features large stables surrounded by wilderness trails designed for all experience levels. Patrons can select from beginner, intermediate and advanced levels of horses and trails, and the scenic countryside provides the perfect backdrop for a horseback riding adventure. Those trails are available year-round, but the beach tours run from November 1 through February 28, when horses are permitted on the beach throughout Horry and Georgetown County. Tours depart from the Garden City Beach area and into Murrells Inlet. Reservations are required.
Inlet Point Plantation: Located in North Myrtle Beach, this outfitter has access to Waites Island just off the coast, so beach rides are available year-round. Enjoy tours of the island and Sunset Beach, the Intracoastal Waterway and inland trails. The most popular tour is a two-hour ride over the dunes and Dunn Sound onto Waites Island, which is a nature preserve and research center for aquatic science. See birds of prey, sea turtles and other unique wildlife along this tour. Inlet Point also offers ATV rides for those who prefer to ride the manmade variety of horses.
Wampee Stables: Located about five miles inland of North Myrtle Beach, this rural stable is surrounded by scenic trails through swampy stretches of the South Carolina Lowcountry. Wampee Stables also offers riding lessons for kids and summer camps if your child is interested in equestrian sports. Looking to incorporate a romantic horseback ride into your wedding? Wampee Stables can make that happen too.