Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Equestrian Attitude

I attended the Eastern Competitive Trail Ride Association (ECTRA) 40th Annual Convention yesterday for the educational panels. I think each panel that I sat in on will require a separate post. I will start with the trail loss panel.

As you all know, we are losing land to development every year. This in turn effects the trail access - pieces of trails that once connected two separate trails are now gone. It gets harder and harder to create a long trail of many miles. This is really its own post by itself, and I will talk more about it another day.

Another problem that we discussed was what I will summarize as the equestrian attitude. And I am as guilty as anyone else.

My cousins' seven year old son asked me one day, "What do you do when you are out riding and your horse poops on the road?" I said, "I act shocked and wonder whose horse did that." He laughed, but maybe its not a laughing matter anymore.

To you or me, a pile of manure on the road or on a trail is not a big deal. However there are many people out there hiking and jogging (and its not so much their fault - they are one or two generations removed from the farm/agricultural life) to whom a pile of manure is a very big and disturbing deal to.

One trail riding group on the other side of the state has adopted the policy that if your horse poops on the trail, you dismount and kick it off to the side of the trail. I think from a public relations standpoint this is a good attitude for all equestrians to take and will adopt this as a personal rule.

How many of you have gone out and volunteered with trail clearing?

I have never done any trail clearing around here, but again this is something I am going to change. A staff member from the Department of Environmental Protection was on the panel yesterday and said that one of their biggest problems is that they are understaffed. I have really enjoyed riding in Natchaug State Forest and Mansfield Hollow Park in the last two years. The first Saturday in June is National Trails Day and I think I will be volunteering this year.

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