Horse Attack!

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by Tim Burdick on 11 September, 2013

In the last week of August, my parents and I stayed in a hotel near Assatague Island, Maryland. This beach was recommended by a fellow surfer as a great surf spot, but I had never been there. It is home to 80-100 wild horses as a national park. The horses can wander wherever they want and are protected under environmental law.

So, on the first day, the waves were crap. I splashed around in the water with my board for about an hour and a half before I realized it was futile. I spoke with the life guards who confirmed my fears. But, I found my surfing spot which was the best, as I had to fight about 100 surfers on Sunday for the same waves.

In the parking lot, there are public showers, changing rooms and toilets. Signs are posted everywhere. DON'T GO NEAR THE HORSES! They show lovely graphic photos of people with bite marks. They also state ---Keep a safe distance about one school bus length away from horses.

So, as I am showering, I wipe the water out of my eyes to discover 6 horses standing around me. I freeze. They are less than one school bus length away. I could have reached out and touched them. They go after my plastic bag which has my car keys, water, sun bloc, granola bars and a banana peel. "Please not the granola bars!" I beg. There is a crowd of tourists gathering nearby and taking pictures at a safe distance. The lead horse starts eating the bag, and gets out a banana peel from the bag. He eats the peel. (now I remember the next important fact--DONT FEED THE HORSES! They fine you a lot of money.)

I almost started shouting at the crowd, "You saw it. You're witnesses. He just took it. I didn't feed him. I am the victim here."
But, I didn't. I had a few tense seconds, as I was wondering what I would do if they walked away with the bag. Seriously, how do you chase horses?
Sigh, they left me in peace with a tattered bag. A little shaken, but no bites. And they didn't eat the granola bars.

On Saturday, there were more waves. (For some silly reason, I usually go surfing during hurricane season in the States. Surfers love them because they create great (really powerful) waves. The rest of the world is less fond of hurricanes.)

So, I was in the water, struggling against the currents. It took me 15 minutes to swim out as the waves were battering me. Wave after wave crashing into me. Finally, one big one smothered me. While I was underwater, my bathing suit felt very different. When I checked, I was happy to discover that I still had a bathing suit on. But, then I discovered two huge rips on both sides from top to bottom. My bathing suit was hanging on by a thread. (sorry, I had to say it.) So, I called it a day after surfing for only an hour. I figured if the first wave ripped the suit, the next one was going to do worse. North beach has very puritan views on clothing. You must wear them. So, I placed my surfboard and snack bag to cover myself and slinked off the beach without too much laughter.

The writing lesson of the day: Experience. Experience. It is one of the best sources of inspiration. True, I have always wanted to write a surfing story. But, it was only when I got on the board and hit the waves that the words arrived.

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