American Heart Association Myrtle Beach Horse Ride
A rider travels to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina for the American Heart Association Beach Ride, an annual fundraising horse ride.
by Lindy Griffith
I always dreamed that one day I would ride my horse on a beautiful beach. Eight years ago, that dream came true. I was on vacation at the Jersey Shore and saw an ad for a beach ride at Lakewood Campground in Myrtle Beach. I couldn’t think of a better location for a riding vacation. The opportunity to combine my love of the beach and my love of horseback riding would be an absolutely perfect meld.
The very thought that I could ride my horse on the pristine white sand beaches along the gently rolling surf gave me goose bumps. Upon further investigation, I found that the ride had not only a long history but was in support of a cause near and dear to me. My father has suffered from heart disease for many years. After his stroke, I did my best to support all rides that benefited the American Heart Association–– perhaps it was a sign? It quickly became clear that this was the adventure I had been seeking.
Knowing that there would be over a thousand horses at the event initially gave me pause, but its history quickly dispelled any uncertainty. What I found at the beach ride was an experience even better than I had dared to dream.
Lindy and Max ride the shore in Myrtle Beach during the American Heart Association Ride.
Daytime was a chance to ride in the surf and feel the salt spray on my face as we cantered through the shallow water. Evening brought the aroma of all sorts of foods cooking and the murmur of people striking up conversations and new friendships. Then, comes nightfall–– the gentle rhythm of the surf crashing onto the beach is matched only by the brilliance of the twinkling stars and the moonlit sand. Sleep comes easy as the day-to-day routine seems worlds away.
I’m always up early to catch the sunrise over the Atlantic. It is a wonderful time of solitude and reflection on just how lucky I am to experience the wonders of the world. Shortly, the aroma of breakfast from adjacent campsites beckons (I don’t cook, but thankfully they have some tasty vendors selling meals on site) and then it’s time for an early morning ride on the sand smoothed by last night’s tide.
The campground is beautiful and restrooms are plentiful and spotless. The costume contest and parade, poker ride, Karaoke contest and special guests are additional icing on the cake. This ride is the best organized family friendly event that I have ever attended.
If riding in such an idyllic setting was the only benefit, it would be well worth it; but the experience is not only about what I get out of it but also the opportunity I get to give back. The ride raises money for the American Heart Association and funds research that someday will eliminate heart disease as the number one killer of Americans. My father has this affliction and every day that he gets to see the sunrise is one more day of happiness for both of us. Those days wouldn’t be possible without the new treatments that heart disease research and development provide.
At the awards ceremony, we hear stories from survivors of heart disease and the people left behind by those not so fortunate. When we learn about how we are each making a difference, there is not a dry eye in the audience
So for the past eight autumns, I leave the hustle and bustle of my world behind and make the pilgrimage to Myrtle Beach. After five days of enjoying two of my greatest loves in one setting, I am refreshed and filled with a new sense of purpose and accomplishment. Above all, I know that 1000+ people came together and made the world just a little bit better place. I welcome any riders interested in participating to come join us for five glorious days of beach riding while we work together to make heart disease a thing of the past.
How you can go: The 31st Annual Beach Ride will be October 31st-November 4th, 2012 at Lakewood Camping Resort in Myrtle Beach, SC. For more information and details visit www.ahabeachride.org or call 1-866-915-6238.