Have you always dreamed of riding a horse along the ocean at sunset? Are you looking to give your kids or grandkids a unique and fun beach experience? Is horseback riding on the beach on your bucket list? If so, you’ll find what you’re looking for on the south end of Bandon at Bandon Beach Riding Stables.
Karen, the owner and manager, came to Bandon from Phoenix in the late 1970s with one horse. She met a man who selling alfalfa, and in buying some for her horse, learned that he had 200 wild horses in Burns. By the end of the conversation, they had struck a deal by which Karen would train some of his horses and then sell them for him. She started with 6-7 of them. They were rough and needed a fair bit of care, but she was able to train them and sell them, also waiting tables at Lloyds and pumping gas to make money in Bandon. Eventually, her friends and others approached her about wanting to ride her horses, and she started leading them on rides for $5 an hour in the summer. Things evolved from there, and Bandon Beach Riding Stables was born.
All ages and abilities are welcome as the folks at this small family-owned company work hard to accommodate everyone, including disabled riders. After everyone signs their releases, makes their payments, and grabs helmets if they opt to, the guides on staff take time to match riders and horses, based on riders’ age, size, and experience, and they patiently give instruction on the basics of riding. Those who are unsure can just sit on the horses for a few minutes to ease into the experience. Children under five ride double with an adult, and older children’s horses can be led by one of the guides.
Bandon Beach Riding Stables offers two different riding experiences, both entirely on the beach except for crossing the road to get there. The North Beach trip consists of three miles of riding and takes about an hour. Weather permitting, there are several trips a day, starting at 10:00, 12:00, 2:00, and 4:00. The Sunset Rides are available May through September and begin at 6:00 p.m. They are 4 miles long and take about 1.5 hours.
During the ride, your friendly guides will help as needed. They will entertain you as you ride with information about what you see on the beach as well as local folklore explaining the beaches’ unique features. They also know when to let the scenery do the talking, giving everyone opportunities to enjoy some serenity. They get to know what their group is looking for, and for those who would like to, they encourage trotting and riding in the ocean on the way back to the stables.
Both trips feature tide pools, creek crossings, beautiful rocks and caves, and of course, views of the Pacific Ocean. The beach is not a terribly crowded one, and at times, riders feel they are the only ones there.
The stable’s horses are very good at their jobs; they know their way around this business as well. They are familiar with the beach and with carrying different riders and don’t stray from the course. They are calm, well-behaved and friendly, and they are accustomed to nervous and confident riders alike. They are clearly well-loved and cared for, so it is likely not difficult for them to be so personable.
Bring your camera for some amazing horse and beach pictures, and be sure to dress in layers. Although it may be warm at the stables, as soon as you cross the road and get down to the beach, it can feel much cooler and will likely be breezy.
Bandon Beach Riding Stables offers more than just horseback rides. Karen and her horses are also for hire for overnight pack or hunting trips.
Although some drop in, most people call and reserve rides ahead of time in the summer. The guides prefer groups of 10, but 15 is their upper limit, and rides do fill up at the height of the tourist season. The stables are open daily and year round, weather permitting, but rides are by reservation only in the winter when business slows down and they stop doing daily scheduled rides. Be sure to call before heading out there to make sure there is a ride available for when you want to go.
The rates for your beach horseback experience are quite reasonable. The 1-hour North Beach Trips are $40 an hour, and the 1.5 hour Sunset Rides are $60. You’ll pay $20 extra if doubling with a small child. The Bandon Beach Riding Stables does not take credit cards, so be sure to bring cash for your ride. Bring a few extra dollars; if you are as satisfied as other Bandon Beach Riding Stables customers have been, you’ll want to show your appreciation for their personal service with a tip!
Bandon Beach Riding Stables
54629 Beach Loop Rd.
541-347-3423 or 541-260-1437