A few of us are in the very beginning stages of putting together a Trail Association. We are thinking along the lines of the Bedford Riding Lanes, or Landsman Kill (nr. Rhinebeck NY), or Stone Valley. We are at the stage of speaking to as many people as possible to learn how best to do this.
If anyone could tell us of their experiences we'd be so grateful!
-how did your group get started?
-how do you manage landowner relations?
-how many members do you have?
-how many does a group need to be successful?
-what kind of insurance do you have?
-what is your membership structure?
-who does trail maintenance?
-what are the biggest problems for you?
And that's just a start! Please, any and all advice would be very gratefully received! Thanks.
It has been a VERY long time but you did say any and all.
Trail maintenance was done on "work days" - combined social and working, I was a junior so usually some adult would call me and "invite" me to the event. Usually food was provided. It always wound up that a core group did most of the work. That group disbanded after the deaths of key members and the increasing development of our county. They had a public arena and would hold a horseshow or two there - it got developed.
Dues were paid annually, President, VP, sec, Treas. don't recall a B o D, the positions did rotate around among the core group. I think they had a Junior group for a little while, Junior president etc and I recall joining the group when they had a presentation at our Middle school.
Development was the largest problem at the time. The area was gaining some marvelous parks but at the same time all the open space was being developed - no place to keep the horses - ironically enough the people of the town purchased a large pasture area for green space and named it Horse Hill - not a horse in sight there 30 years later.
Lately the issues are user group conflicts, I'll post a link to a discussion regarding Mtn biking vs horses, other areas it could be ATV's vs horses.
Thanks, ReSomething! Our valley is (fingers crossed) not under immediate pressure, but who knows what will happen in 10 years, so we'd really like to have something in place well before any pressure happens.
The valley is Goldens Bridge country, but these are not hunt trails (some landowners are opposed to foxhunting).
I would be *really* interested in conflicts between users -- how groups cooperate, or don't, and how those conflicts are managed.
Trespassers (hunters) are a big issue around here, less so mountain bikers. I've found people hunting rabbits on our farm several times.
I don't have any direct experience with starting one but have you looked into maybe becoming a chapter of Back Country Horsemen of America? They would have a lot of tools and resources for you. I have a lot of friends who are members and I'm going to be joining my local chapter soon I think, which is why it is fresh on my mind.
Even if you're not interested in becoming a chapter you might want to contact them. They've been around since the 70s and have a lot of experience with this sort of thing. Their website is www.backcountryhorse.com.
ETA they are more of a service-oriented group. Most if not all local chapters have regular recreational rides (mine has 1-2 a month) but the main focus is on trail maintenance, keeping trail access, and educating people on things like LNT and packing/equine camping skills.
The "equinox" pdf file has the discussion re trail politics. I'll look up some others from that state and from this state too - there are TONS of trailriding groups here in KY but most don't have an internet presence.
It's always of benefit to have an organized group "voice" to keep from being bulldozed over (literally, almost!).
I've never been involved in starting one of these, but have been a member of two (three if you count our local hunt ).
The first one was OK. We paid a modest annual dues, had work days where we did some maintenance on trails on private land, and there were occational clinics. We also did some work on Federal land in the Great Smokey Mts. National park. It was an overall decent organization and the rides were well run (had a couple of good "trail bosses").
The other (not the Hunt) was a "moveable disaster." It could best be described as "lazy rednecked drunks on horseback." No one but a stout few ever showed up for a work day. More than one trail ride could be tracked by the discarded beer cans. The "trail bosses" were a joke (and sometimes mostly lead the drinking). They were also presumptuous as all getout. One day I got a call advising me of trail ride at my place the very next day. This was not a request to have one but notice that they were going to have one. It died a quick death when I said, "no alcohol." They were very "huffy" about that and I never heard from any of them again. This just reinforced my prior decision to not pay my dues that year.
If you get a bunch of folks who know that they are about then it can work out quite well. But then it also might not. It all depends on the humans involved.
Good luck in your project if you decide to go forward.