The Kenai Peninsula comes alive during summer. Tourists, fishermen, seasonal workers and year-round residents share highways and harbors from Homer to Seward. ADN's Tegan Hanlon and Marc Lester recently spent a week meeting some of the people who make the Peninsula unique. Over the next few days, we'll be publishing more than 20 of their stories.

Lesley Zacharias wears her wedding dress and rides her horse, Maddy, on the beach along the Homer Spit on June 19, 2018. (Marc Lester / ADN)

HOMER — Don't tell her life partner, but Lesley Zacharias was with her soulmate on the Homer beach (and it wasn't him). She shares a special bond with her 28-year-old horse, Maddy.

Zacharias, dressed in the gown she would soon wear again in her wedding in Washington state, turned heads as she rode Maddy along the waterline of the Homer Spit. They were in town for a two-day riding clinic hosted by the United States Pony Club. Another student encouraged her to bring her dress for photos.

Zacharias said she shares characteristics with the animal.

"She just has a really intricate, complex personality and we click," she said. "She doesn't click with everybody."

The connection is strong with her new husband also. She and Joel Beattie had been together for 11 years before they married June 29. They were roommates before they were partners and have a son together.

"We did everything backwards," she said.

Lesley Zacharias rides with friends. (Marc Lester / ADN)

Zacharias can't pinpoint one moment she realized she wanted to marry Beattie, but she said she appreciates two things that strengthen their relationship: good communication and the support she has for her horse-riding passion.

"He allows me to do the things I love to do," she said.

Zacharias patted Maddy's neck before riding into the shallow water, kicking up spray.