Council Now Divided Over Beach Horseback Rides

OCEAN CITY – Last week the Mayor and City Council pushed forward in allowing horseback riding on the beach with a 6-1 vote, but this week opinions changed, resulting in a 4-3 vote to pass the ordinance in first reading, with council members Doug Cymek, Mary Knight and Lloyd Martin in opposition.

“I really didn’t want this to be the next 4-3 vote,” Council President Jim Hall said. “I am willing to try this for 90 days … they are pretty to see and when you go to other resorts you do see other folks riding and splashing in the water, and for that reason I think it is worth a try. If it doesn’t work out or if we have problems with it, we just stop it.”

Knight expressed many public concerns over the “waste” horses will leave behind and didn’t want to mix the image with the perception of Ocean City.

“I still believe the risk is not worth the reward,” she said.

Councilman Brent Ashley, who brought the idea forward a few months back, argued “horse poop” should not be a concern. He read a statement from the Environmental Protection Agency that said, “Horse manure is a solid waste excluded from federal regulation because it neither contains significant amounts of listed hazardous components, nor exhibits hazardous properties.”

Ashley added that the horses will ride from the water to the high tide line so if manure is not picked up it will be washed out into the ocean, which is not harmful because horse manure is organic and bio-degradable.

“There is no danger with the horse manure,” he said. “We don’t always want to be the city of ‘no ’… this is done all over the world and I don’t see what the big problem is. Try it and if doesn’t work than that is it.”

Martin said that Ashley “hit it on the head” by stating 40 percent of dog owners do not pick up after their pets.

“Basically you are going to have the same amount of people riding horses that aren’t going to be picking up their horse poop … and that is more litter you are going to have on your beach,” he said. “It is more of a negative than it is a positive.”

Doug Cymek said that his vote has flipped following some investigation.

“If you read all of the comments from our staff and police department, they are all advising us against doing this,” he said.

Cymek added that Wildwood, N.J allows horseback riding to be done on “Five Mile Beach” which is similar to Assateague Island where the beach is separated by a 200-foot wide buffer. Also, the Wildwood assistant director of public works has advised that horseback riding in Ocean City would not work and will be a danger to beach goers.

“Horses that are not used to being around water jump and toss their riders when a wave breaks, so I understand the good you are trying to do, but I really feel here that the cost is going too far outweigh any benefit,” he said.

Council members Margaret Pillas and Joe Hall didn’t see anything wrong with giving it a try.

“I don’t see it being that many horses to begin with and as far as riders are concerned, if you own a horse and ride a horse you should certainly know how to ride under these circumstances,” Pillas said.

Joe Hall added that he thought the minority of the council were “looking for problems.”

“I think it is worth the risk,” he said. “If we find out in the spring we have issues, we can discontinue it as quick as we started it.”

The lengthy ordinance lists the regulations placed on horseback riding on the beach that will be allowed from Nov. 1 of each year through March 30 of the next year, 6 a.m. through 5 p.m.

The designated area for riding horses begins at the northernmost extension of 27th Street and extending south to the south end jetty. Riding in the dune area is prohibited and all riders must ride in the general vicinity of the hard sand closest to the water’s edge.

Any sporting activities such as horse racing, polo or other sporting activities involving horses are also prohibited, including galloping. The only activity permitted while horseback riding on the beach is a leisurely ride consisting of walking or pacing of the horses.

A permit will be required for riding horses on the beach. The cost of the permit is $50 per horse and can be purchased at the City Clerk’s Office and displayed in the front windshield of the vehicle used for towing the horses. The permit also allows two riders per permit or per horse and horse trailers may only be parked at the beach parking lot.

There is not a limit of permits to be sold but there is a limit of no more than 12 horses on the beach at one time. Riding sessions can be scheduled three days in advance by contacting the City Clerk’s Office.

The permit holder is responsible for cleaning any manure, hay or other debris caused by riding horses on the beach, parking lot or entrance to beach. The manure must be removed and disposed of at the stable or farm in which the horse came. Violating this regulation will result in a hearing before the city manager at which point a permit can be revoked and refused the issuance of permit in the future.

Other regulations include any child under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult at all times while riding on the beach, no dogs are permitted to accompany riders while on the beach, and when riders come upon other individuals on the beach it is the responsibility of the horse rider to yield and ride around them.

7 comments on “Council Now Divided Over Beach Horseback Rides

  1. With all of the problems in the world we are focusing our attention on “poop on the beach.”

  2. WHY does everything the local OC government do have to be such an issue? This is not rocket science folks – it’s simply horse manure.

  3. Let’s see here, “horse manure harmless, washes into ocean”,..hmm, according to several scientific studies, horse manure can and does contain several diseases that are harmful.—-maybe the good Council woman from OC, would enjoy the manure in condo/hotel pools as well. Or maybe have the OCMD ambassador “rodney the beach patrol rep” show fresh piles of manure on the beach to lure the tourist to OC’s beaches. While having a lump land on your childs face while surfing at the Inlet.
    —-Plus, what kind or revenue are you generating?? does it even cover the cost of employee hrs. to process, print, and distribute these beach permits??? I think not.
    END THIS FOLLY NOW.
    Two Summers ago, the Police mount dumped on the beach during the June season with pics produced by me and videos by another—it took several emails to the Council members on the Police committee and the Chief to admit then state” this was unacceptable”,..yet, we now are expecting more of the same from private riders.—-end the madness before it starts.
    Maybe the dogs will make the encounter with the horses real interesting when riders or animals are hurt—–then the lawyers will make the hay.

    Aloha, Randy Myer

  4. I have trained race,show and pleasure horses all of my life. The horse manure is the leaat of your problems.

    The liability issues with rider’s being ill prepared to handle their horses on the beach will be the issue. Also, who is going to police whether riders are walking, troting, cantering or galloping? I also do not think it is realistic to think that people are going to ride up and down the beach, and then walk back with a pitch fork and manure bucket to pick up any manure.

    The $50.00 fee is a bit steep, as quite frankley, anyone who has ridden the beach does it once or twice a season max as it gets old very quickly. Especially if you are restricted as to the speed,and gait you can travel. So $50.00 for one ride on the breach is not appealing. With the other areas to ride on the shore, this does not have that much to offer.

    With the libility matters in today’s world, no one is going to want to rent out animals to individuals who have little or no riding experiance. There are very few hack or rental stables anywhere anymore do to the risks of a law suit.

    Horses are also expensive to maintain, and the fee that you might be able to charge to give the weekend cowboy a ride on the beach, would not be enough to maintan the animal involved.

    Someone would have to police people riding to inforce any rules or regulations, and also to handle any emergencies. Loose horses come to mind….as well as other safety issues. Are you going to require the use of riding safety helmets? That might offend the western riders.

    You would have to have an extensive release of libility document signed and kept on file as well. And, it should be executed by legal consel that is familer with the horse industry.

    Lot’s to think about. It sounds like a nice idea, but in reality I think the risk out weighs the potential profit.

    The waste issues on the beach would be the least of my concerns.

    Thanks for your time. Good luck!

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