Take a Ride on the Beach
Saddle up and see the Outer Banks from a new perspectiveBy Scott Gates
What is it about a horse on a beach? Countless films have relied on the romantic image of a couple galloping side by side through the surf, and who can forget the iconic images of a boy and a horse bonding on a remote beach in the 1979 film “The Black Stallion.”
For visitors to North Carolina’s Outer Banks, riding through the surf isn’t just for the big screen. Several stables offer rides along sandy beaches and through maritime forests. Many cater to children and riders with special needs, and all are fully equipped for a romantic experience with that special someone.
“We have taken out honeymooners and newlyweds, but my favorite story is of an engagement we helped set up,” says Charlie Edwards, owner of Charlie Horse Stables on Ocracoke Island. “We recommended a photographer and made sure we didn’t book anyone else for that ride, so it was an exclusive and private experience for the couple.”
She said yes, by the way.
Plan ahead by finding the location right for you and booking in advance. Although some operate year-round, others may not be available for rides during winter months. Stables are listed south to north along the coast.
Cedar Island Stables
Though not on the Outer Banks, these stables — a part of Cedar Island Resort — offer a unique riding experience along the Pamlico Sound year-round, where riders may spot the wild horses that call the area home. Options include a sunset ride and a longer ride across a creek to an uninhabited island.
Charlie Horse Stables
Evening and morning rides (including the “Sunrise Special”) are available on Ocracoke Island during summer months along the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. During the off-season, owner Charlie Edwards and her horses live in Madison County, Virginia, where she is a 9th grade teacher.
Hatteras Island Horseback Riding
Views of Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, Ocracoke Island, the Atlantic Ocean and Pamlico Sound make this a memorable ride. Owners Jeff and Suzie Scholten take pride in accommodating all riders, having taken 80-year-old grandmothers, wheelchair-bound paraplegics, children with medical conditions and Down syndrome, cancer patients and riders with multiple sclerosis.
Two-hour beach rides are available in Frisco year-round. The guided rides begin on a trail through maritime forest that opens onto the beach with views of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.
Owner Sylvia Mattingly’s barn sits on eight acres about two miles from the beach.
Lighthouse Horse Rides
Novice and advanced riders alike travel to Marina Lobas’ stables in Buxton, operating full-time since 2012. For those unable to ride a horse, Lobas provides something a little different: cart rides. “I want people with disabilities to be able to enjoy this kind of experience,” she says. Rides are available year-round.
More travel ideas around the NC coastal region