Ashley Wants Beach Horseback Riding Discussion

OCEAN CITY – A resort councilman brought the concept of horseback riding on the beach back to the Mayor and City Council’s attention this week, hoping for further discussion in the future.

Councilman Brent Ashley initially offered the idea of allowing horseback riding on the beach back in October and has attempted to discuss it further on a few occasions. This week Ashley added that horseback riding on the beach would be an added attraction to go hand-in-hand with the Winterfest of Lights during this time of year.

“In our economic times, I think anything we can do to embrace a new activity or a new attraction to bring more people and money to town is a good thing,” he said.

Ashley suggested having Special Events Director John Sullivan and Assistant Recreation and Parks Director Susan Petito work together to implement a horseback riding on the beach program so that it can be seriously discussed in the near future.

“I would like to try it for a weekend and see what happens … a lot of our competitors already operate this,” he said.

Council President Jim Hall acknowledged that the city manager’s office has already been in the works researching the concept. He said that before the city can move forward some ground rules need to be formed, for example what distance of the beach and how far from the Boardwalk the horses can ride, as well as who is going to clean up after them. Besides that, he was willing to give the idea a test run on a weekend during the holiday season.

“Before getting into the vendor side of it, I would hope we would try it a couple weeks and see how it works,” he said. “I think it is a great idea … good resorts have this, and they are beautiful to watch.”

Ashley said there could be two ways to go about providing horseback riding on the beach. The town can allow individuals who own their own private horses to ride as well as have a vendor provide horses.

When Ashley initially brought it up, he had borrowed the idea from Wildwood, N.J. He had spoken with Wildwood Mayor Ernie Troiano who was also considering horseback riding on the beach at that time. In the past, horseback riding on Ocean City’s beaches have been brought forward but never been put into action.

“It’s an additional attraction,” Ashley said on Monday evening. “The Inlet parking lot is sitting open all winter, and it would certainly bring more people into the downtown area … the thing about it is it is more for the people watching it than for the people riding. It is an attraction to watch.”