MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - A group of local equestrians were part of the Myrtle Beach City Council Workshop on Tuesday, they were trying to convince city leaders to pull the reigns on the ordinance that now bans horseback riding on the beach within the city limits.
Horses are allowed for special events like parades or festival, with a special event permit.
Horse lovers told city council banning horseback riding could affect tourism dollars, arguing that tourists who love horses come to Myrtle Beach just to ride on the beach.
The sudden ban comes after the city says it received complaints of horse manure. According to City of Myrtle Beach Public Information Director, Mark Kruea, the complaints increase when the weather's nice and there are more two-footed beach-goers.
Horse lover, Brooke Dalswell spoke to council about her concerns. "We understand that the manure is a problem with tourists and we'd like to come up with a solution that would work for everyone," she said.
Back in 1998, Council approved a blanket resolution allowing horseback riding on the beach from the third Saturday in November until the end of February, subject to certain rules. The animal and beach ordinance, was updated last month and the manager and attorney saw that as superseding the earlier resolution.
The city manager said they re-wrote parts of the ordinance that says animals without a leash are not allowed on the beach, however there are few exceptions with dogs.
Now with the updated code, the resolution that honors horses during the winter season is no longer effective, leaving horse lovers in the community upset.
When speaking to council Dalswell said, "I think it is really important on behalf of the horse riders and owners in Myrtle Beach to think about how important the horses really are."
Business owner and horse lover, Linda Webber spoke to council about the economic impact the equestrian community could have on the local economy. Webber told the council that a group of equestrians come to Myrtle Beach for a special event will spend over $300,000 in just five days.
Webber said, "We are willing to do whatever it takes to come up with a compromise with the city that could mean horseback ride only as specific times."
Council member Mary Jeffcoat said her concerns with horses on the beach is not just the manure, but an overall safety issue.
"There is a reason why there are no other beaches on the East Coast that allow horses on the beach, because horses on the beach are incompatible with large groups of people who are not on horses, on the beach," stated Jeffcoat.
Council members said they would consider allowing horse rides during specific hours of the day, times that would not interfere with beach-goers, but Webber disagrees.
"We are very courteous, if someone is walking on the beach, you will never find an equestrian person that would invade their space," said Webber. "We are very, very courteous about the tourists and the beach, we love them!"
Mayor John Rhodes and other council members said they are willing to consider a solution that would allow horseback riders on the beach. The city manager stated it would have to be a solution that would definitely have to include the cleaning and/or the accountability of horse manure on the beach.
The horse enthusiasts told the council they will work on a proposal that members can review, to reconsider the issue.