I IMAGINE RIDING a horse on an ocean beach is a dream come true for every horse lover. And it’s an opportunity that Freedom Farm owner and trainer Mary Gallagher has offered to her Advanced Hoof Beats students every August for almost 20 years.
This year, students Maddie Niemeyer, Lily Robertson, Zoe Ernst, Kathryn Butler and Elly Dam (and her fortunate younger sister Daniela Dam) were given the chance of a lifetime: Camping out at Gallagher’s friend’s farm in Long Beach, where they were able to ride directly to the beach, and, because the surf was relatively calm, they even got to wade into the majestic Pacific Ocean waters.
When I was a teenager, I, too, got to live that dream.
My horse was stabled on a cliff next to the ocean in Corona del Mar, Calif. I spent many a time riding the narrow trail down to the shore and even into the ocean.
One time, my friends and I were riding bareback into the ocean during a relatively calm surf when a large wave came crashing over my horse’s head and swept me off my mare.
My friends had already turned to back to shore, so my mare calmly walked back with them. She trailed along the shore next to them for a few minutes before they noticed she was riderless.
For us, it was a fun and funny memory.
Of course, there was no danger of me catching hypothermia in the Southern California surf, like there might be if it happened up here in the waters off the Peninsula.
Gallagher said the girls had a blast and were full of giggles and fun times during their stay.
In past years, extra activities included getting ice cream at the big parlor in town, go-cart racing, a visit to the museum and even seeing a play at the local theater.
She said the kids just wanted to hang out on the beach and at the farm this year. An entertainment highlight was when the kids wrote, directed and acted in a skit in which they got “everyone involved, including the adults,” Gallagher said.
“They made it into an audience participation play,” she said, adding with a smile, “There were lots of giggles, laughing, running around and screaming. It was hilarious.”
Coming up on the Freedom Farm agenda is an archery clinic.
“It’s something the kids did earlier this year at the Bainbridge Island Saddle Club. They had the instructor come and give an archery clinic a couple of our students went to,” Gallagher said. “They had a ball and asked if they could have one here, so we’re doing it.”
Mounted Archery Clinic
The clinic, Oct. 9-10 at Freedom Farm, include:
• Two days of training with Lisa Badger, Mounted Archery Association of the America’s Registered Clinic instructor. Friday evening orientation meeting included.
• Beginner-level mounted archers welcome. Archery gear available. Intermediate riding skills recommended.
• Ground Archery. Archery Horsemanship. Starting Your Horse. Advancing toward Competition.
Note: Archery Clinic is capped at 12 participants; Filling out the registration form online does not guarantee participation. Auditors welcome.
It seems good things are always happening at Freedom Farm. For more information or future calendar events, go to www. freedom-farm.net. Email [email protected] freedom-farm.net or phone 360-457-4897. Located at 493 Spring Road, Agnew.
A Clallam County Equine Emergency Protocol initiative is gaining momentum should a catastrophic event, such as area wildfire, earthquake or flood, occur on the Peninsula.
I spoke this week with an individual at the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office command center who’s working diligently on the county’s emergency management plan, including putting together what’s called emergency support functions. And one of those emergency support functions is called mass care. A portion of mass care is dealing with large animals and small animals that are pets. And this person considers horses as pets.
I told her, I think at this point most folks are interested in where they can vacate to in case of wildfire, more than a flood or earthquake. My source, who doesn’t want to be named, lest she be inundated with calls before she’s ready, said in an absolute state of emergency, Clallam County Fairgrounds is likely able to be utilized, because it is owned by Clallam County. In the interim, she still needs to get that in writing from the fairgrounds manager.
I also asked if Kitsap County Fairgrounds could be used. She is going to contact the county to get the approval.
“No matter where it’s approved to vacate to, the owners must stay with their animals at all times,” she said.
She questioned who was going to transport the horses in case of emergency. I told her I was talking with members of local Back Country Horsemen groups to try put together a list of those who own trailers who’d be willing to help.
All this is a work in progress though. She’s hopeful by spring she’ll be able to hold public forums to say what’s going on, to get the plan implemented and to get our input as well.
In the meantime, horse owners can keep the ball rolling by finding out who’s willing to take part in the action plan, be it through offering farm space above the floodplain for shelters, or, for those who have horse trailers offering to help trailer the animals out of the danger zone.
Hopefully, by next summer, we shall have an actual large emergency plan for both Clallam and Jefferson counties. Feel free to contact me with any questions.
Karen Griffiths’ column, Peninsula Horseplay, appears the second and fourth Sunday of each month.
If you have a horse event, clinic or seminar you would like listed, please email Griffiths at [email protected] at least two weeks in advance. You can also call her at 360-460-6299.