MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – Many horse owners don’t like the city of Myrtle Beach’s ban on riding on the beach.
The ban has been on the books since 2011 but it wasn’t until last month it was actually enforced, after people complained of manure on the beach.
On Tuesday, more than 25 riders showed up to voice their opinion at a city council meeting. They want the rules to go back to what they were from 1998 to 2011 when horses were allowed to be on beaches from the last Saturday in November through February.
Anyone caught riding a horse in city limits faces a misdemeanor, which carries a fine of up to $500 and 30 days in jail.
Horseback riding isn’t banned in all of Myrtle Beach. Riders can still purchase a season pass to ride on a three mile stretch at the state park, but many riders prefer longer rides north, past the Springmaid Pier.
“Which I love to do, not only me but other people,” said horse owner, Joe Jacobi.
Jacobi retired to the area more than 20 years ago specifically so he could ride the beach, something he’s done nearly every weekend since he got here.
“And now all of a sudden I cant, and it just doesn’t seem fair to me,” said Jacobi.
He says the manure problem is overblown, explaining, “most of us ride on the shore line, the manure that happens is washed out by the tide.”
“It’s just as much as these horse owners to go down that beach and ride as it is somebody else who’s dog that craps on the beach and they don’t pick it up or someone else down there throwing out their litter,” said Buster Ray, owner of Horse Back Riding of Myrtle Beach.
Ray’s been in business for eight years and has taken more than 25,000 people on beach rides in that time.
“They come to town spending money, they’ll actually fly in because there’s so few places that let horses on the beach,” said Ray.
The ban doesn’t effect him since he rides south of the state park on Horry County beaches but he’s worried about the future.
“We’re scared. The horse owners are scared that Horry and Georgetown County will mirror what Myrtle Beach has done,” said Ray.
So he and other riders went to city council to argue a change to the rules, considering the economic impact that horseback riding brings.
“Vets, the hay man, the feed man, Wild West selling us saddles the list goes on and on. My advertising budget is 40,000 a year,” said Ray.
To ease the council’s concerns, riders presented a plan to establish speed limits, keep horses five feet from the water and create an auxiliary group to enforce the rules.
Next the group will meet with Marsha Hewitt, equine specialist at the State Department of Agriculture to hammer out a proposal they will present at the next council work shop coming up on Tuesday, Feb. 23.