I've been riding with horses in the water before, and never realized possible danger associated with it. So take heed... Horse drowns off Sandy Neck Beach July 08, 2008 WEST BARNSTABLE A horse drowned off Sandy Neck Beach near trail No. 2 yesterday. "Three people were riding horses down the beach and they were also swimming with them," West Barnstable Fire Chief Joseph Maruca said. "For some reason one of the horses got into trouble, and they weren't able to get it out of the water." The woman riding the horse was not injured, Maruca said, adding that he had never seen a horse drown before. "It's a unique incident for us to respond to," Maruca said. The fire department was called to the beach at 2:18 p.m., he said. The horse's owner was a 17-year-old woman from Acushnet, said Barnstable police Sgt. Sean Sweeney. The water, at the time, was not rough, he said. The horse had a saddle on, which is unusual when people take their horses into the water, Sweeney said. Horseback riding on Sandy Neck is common, but more so during the off-season, Sandy Neck Beach park manager Nina Coleman said. The rider of the horse that drowned did not violate any rules or regulations, she said. "It's very unfortunate, and it was such a fluke accident," Coleman said. "We're just really happy that nobody was hurt." The horse threw its rider and got its leg tangled in the reins, Coleman said. Its head was then held under water by the reins and it took in a lot of water very quickly, she said. "He did eventually break his bridle but then it was too late." The 4½-year-old gray horse was removed from the water by some bystanders, said West Barnstable veterinarian Marina Cesar, who examined the body. Foam coming from the horse's nose and the bluish purple color of its skin indicated pulmonary edema, which is one result of drowning, Cesar said. "It was definitely a drowning." The accident highlights the fact that even a 1,000-pound animal is at risk of drowning in the right circumstances, she said. The owners of the horse were from off-Cape and had taken the animals to the beach in a trailer, she said. Riders who take their horses into the water should not use tack that could get the animal tangled up, she said. The rider had owned the horse since the animal was born and was very upset, Cesar said. Maruca and Cesar said they did not know the names of the people who owned the horses. Barnstable police said they did not have the names of the owners, either. The horse was removed from the beach with the assistance of park rangers from Sandy Neck Beach and Barnstable Department of Public Works staff. The horse was transferred from a front end loader to a flat bed pick up to be taken back to Acushnet, Sweeney said.