Once, stable owner Terry Swigart recalls, people could ride horses through the surf along Oregon’s beaches with few restraints — “a free-spirit-type thing.'”
These days, though, the practice of stable owners offering rides seems headed for the memory books, thanks to regulations, complaints from neighbors, increasing insurance costs and even confrontations with “yahoos” on three-wheel bikes.
Swigart has owned Sea Ranch Stables since 1952, before Cannon Beach was even a city.
“There were no regulations whatsoever,” he told The Oregonian newspaper. “You could run the horses up and down the beach. You could just turn them loose.”
These days, Swigart has changed the way he does business over safety concerns. The ride to Haystack Rock is offered only at 9 a.m., for example.
“That’s before all the mobs of people get to Haystack,” he said. “Also, they rent out three-wheel bikes, and every once in a while you get some yahoo who wants to play chicken with the horses.”
Other horse people along the coast have similar problems, the paper reported.
Brenda Wilcox has Ocean Trails Riding Stables in Lincoln City, where the planning commission has proposed zoning changes and the city is going to require her to get a parade permit it waived last year to cross Jetty Avenue en route to the beach — meaning she would have to diaper the horses.
Wilcox calls her business “a dying industry. It’s a business where you only make money in the summer to feed these horses all winter long. Insurance can cost you upward of $4,000 just for summer months, and then there are the complaints of people not wanting it in the community.”
In Florence, Jeff Chastain, owner of C&M Stables in Florence, says new restrictions protecting snow plovers mean he must cut the number of daily rides from eight to four, limit the number of riders on the beach to no more than 15 at a time, and never ride more than three abreast.
“We’re still going to offer the same number of rides,” Chastain said. “It’s just that we will have to send more people on the trails than on the beach. When people come to the beach, they want to ride on the beach.”
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