Hoof prints in the sand - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Hoof prints in the sand

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DEL MAR (CBS 8) - North Beach in Del Mar has always been attractive to our four-legged friends. These days, it's gone to the dogs, but in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, the surf and sand provided thoroughbred therapy.

"That's where the 'Surf Meets the Turf' slogan came from, is that trainers loved to take their horses down to the beach," senior media coordinator Dan Smith said. "The combination of the salt water and the cold water kind of tightened up their ankles. It was nature's way of healing whatever little problems a horse might have."

"The horses took a liking to it. They stood there in the water and their feet, the waves and the cool water on their legs was a lot better than putting ice packs on," photographer Don Scherlis said. "When they stood in the water, they were like ponies, just kicked back. These horses could do their full exercises by swimming without pounding their hooves."

Trainer Bruce Headley knows all about the healing waters of Del Mar.

"The sand's so soft, that's one of the ways a horse can take a bath, is in the sand. You could even hear their backs click. It was so therapeutic, such a tradition that everybody would be there," Headley said.

In the early 1980s, floods wiped out the horse path and it was never dregged out again.

"It was a catastrophe that the flood brought all that sand in and they never opened it up," Headley said.

Today this beach is still animal friendly, its legacy of thoroughbred therapy forever etched in the sands of time.

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