PISMO BEACH – On an inflatable surfboard in prime California waters, first-time surfers Ms Rebekah Abern and Ms Elizabeth French paddle out to catch a wave under the watchful eye of their unusual instructor: Chupacabrah, a small black goat.
This one-year-old ruminant is an integral part of their lesson on Pismo Beach, effortlessly demonstrating the relaxed stance necessary to ride through the churning foam.
“The goat surfed way better than I did,” laughed Ms Abern. “She had the positioning and you can tell she had done it before… you could tell she was digging it.”
“Who gets to surf with goats? It’s like out of this world,” said the 41-year-old tourist from Montana.
Chupacabrah’s presence on the surfboard is the brainchild of two-legged instructor Dana McGregor, who decided a decade ago he would give goats a go.
After all, dogs have been surfing in California for years – they even have their own world championship – but are not quite so steady on their feet.
An animal that prances effortlessly up and down precarious mountainsides is far better suited to the task.
“They have incredible balance,” he told AFP.
“They’ve got those hooves that just enable them to cling to the board.”
Mr McGregor’s relationship with goats could have worked out very differently.
In 2011, he acquired one of the famously hardy creatures to clear the poison oak and other weeds that were choking his mother’s garden.
Once the vegetation was gone, the goat was destined for the barbecue.
But the problem with having a cute animal around – especially one that you’ve named “Goatee” – is that eating them can be quite unappetising.
“I just got attached to her obviously and never did that,” he says.