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Sigh- loss of public riding space...again

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  • Sigh- loss of public riding space...again

    I live in a great horsey area, a suburb of our provincial Capital. I've lived at my present farmette for over 15 years and have boarded and ridden in the local area for over 20 years.

    I ride almost every day from my house, through a nautre preserve and trails through a couple of public parks. There used to be wonderul old hay fields in one of these parks which, once they were mowed, provided about a kilometer of galloping and large flat areas perfect for practicing dressage, grazing, galloping, what have you.

    As of last year, no more.

    FIFA took over and converted those fields into huge artificial turf soccer fields and parking for cars to presumably utilize those soccer fields.

    Never mind that in the same park there were already 3 soccer playing fields and 5 baseball diamonds, and that the old hay field was the one open space left to ride horses.

    Never mind that the local riding clubs protested the plan to convert the hay field to soccer fields and protested the paving of the local riding trails, so there is NOWHERE you can trot or gallop anymore.

    And now, nevermind, that even though I and dozens of other riders use that park everyday, we literally NEVER see anyone using the playing fields. The baseball diamonds? Well, for July and August, about one or two sundays in a month there might be a tournament that uses 2 or 3 of the 5 diamonds- in 20 years I've never seen all 5 diamonds in use.

    Such a waste. The local park admin told me that people are complaining about manure on the paved trails. My answer? Give us back our turf trails and other riding areas so we are not forced to share a paved surface with the very few bicycles we encounter now. There were never complainst in the past. And no, the trails are not in more frequent use since the paving. I went for a long 3 hour trail ride on Sunday last and encountered 2 dog walkers and 4 horses and a bicyclist and a jogger. That was it. No one on the soccer fields. No one in the baseball park. parking lot was empty. As for garbage left on the trails? The manure was insignificant compared to the empty pop cans, water and gatorade bottles , chip bags and chocolate bar wrappers around the soccer and baseball fields...
    "The Threat of Internet Ignorance: ... we are witnessing the rise of an age of equestrian disinformation, one where a trusting public can graze on nonsense packaged to look like fact."-LRG-AF

  • #2
    Do you have a State Horse Council that could possibly advise you what to do next?

    I used to board where we had about 3 huge town owned fields to ride in. Beautiful piece of property just to look at, even if you didn't ride on it.

    Yep, same thing. They converted them into Soccer fields although the town has umpteen other playing fields.

    I don't board there anymore, but can't work up the nerve to drive by and see the beautiful fields, now marred by parking lots and manicured playing fields.
    MnToBe Twinkle Star: "Twinkie"

    Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


    • #3
      need to compaign should have done a petition theres still hope get your local riding clubs , ramblers, and push bikers all on it as can say its used publicly via all and not just one sport -if it was me would have been on it yonks ago, as if it was open space you might have petected speices inthere,
      i did this with my local woodland we have about 600 acres of ancient woodland so i srated a petition all on my jack jones, then went round all the farms that surround the woods and got ther support then placed it in shops and tack shops riding clubs, bird society, bats, badgers, forest commission, wildlife societies and then county councils and mp's ie mebers of parliment as the woods was anob it needed to be up grades to ssssi - which it due was now we ahve riase over 100k for the woods to be mantian on regualr baisis its also educational for local school visits not only for its rare orchids, plants and bugs and and animals but also for the roman ruins and medevil boundary this was started in may 2005 i am the founder of the bredhurst woodland action group which is now gone on from strenght to strenght
      my point is you are one person to beat them at there game you have to increase your nos as its a numbers game the more you have on your support the more likely you are to be listened to
      but for my pennies worth judging by what your saying they are not accomodating all public usage which if its an open space they should have done
      hence why you need other gruops that perhaps used the space and enjoyed it to manner that you do
      the more gruops you have joining the more people the more help etc etc no ome can ignore loads of people but they can ignore one person


      • Original Poster

        we did petition, we did campaign, we showed up at every meeting discussing the matter, and riders often outnumbered other users, sometimes as many as 30 riders when maybe a dozen cyclists or a dozen other people showed up. The riders made the meetings standing room only.The City Council is not interested. FIFA, the soccer association, has a huge lobby, as does the local cycling coalition. The lobbies work behind the scenes and do not attend the meeting that I have seen. It seems the public meeting are there simply to make it appear like the council is listening. There were 3 or 4 local riding clubs and we make a point of attending anything that has to do with trails, parks etc, as we have lost so much area in the last 20 years. I would say throughout the city, we have lost 80% of our public riding space in the last 2 decades.

        Our protests over the years are to no avail.

        The outcome when we joined with local wildlife societies was to create the nature preserve... although the nature society promptly banned horses from 50% of the trails in the reserve, that we horsemen had actually created and maintained for the last 20 years.

        I am mourning the loss.

        Now I am angry too.
        "The Threat of Internet Ignorance: ... we are witnessing the rise of an age of equestrian disinformation, one where a trusting public can graze on nonsense packaged to look like fact."-LRG-AF


        • #5
          Do you ever think "somebody" has an interest in getting paid to create the fields and do the paving? Or is that too cynical.
          Last edited by MaybeMorgan; Jun. 20, 2010, 12:05 AM.


          • #6
            I agree with MaybeMorgan.


            • #7
              I agree that it is sad and usually impossible to undo.

              I do think I should point out tho' - not that this was necessarily the case for the OP - that horses feet, particularly when shod, are very destructive to the ground. We have lost numerous places to ride because my neighbors would ride in the hayfields while they were wet. PSA -if you have a nice place to ride, be careful about when you ride in it. Or buy your own big hayfield.
              "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
              The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.


              • #8
                Masterson Station in Lexington has some of the same issues. It's a 600 acre open space and is the site of a couple of events, Spring Bay I think, and has also got two soccer leagues, a dog park and a fairgrounds. The equestrian area is on one side and the soccer on the other, but the soccer fields are growing like fungus along with their associated parking areas. There is a subdivision on that side and the homeowners are getting fed up with the congestion created by the soccer games, which are very well attended, so we horsemen are the logical group to shove aside. I don't keep on top of it as well as I should, but there is a Masterson Equestrian Trust Foundation organization that just focusses on keeping our user group rights intact at that park. The city runs a lesson program there through the Parks and Rec, and I think that one of the local Pony Clubs operates out of the park as well.

                I'm really not sure how much money comes from the soccer leagues, but I will bet that it is substantial and every municipality I kow of right now is hurting for money so we horsemen have to at least match the benefits provided by the soccer league - trail maintenance or whatever, and/or prove that the littering and loitering will render the benefits not quite as advertised. We still have great big fields at Masterson but we also have groundhogs and their holes so you wind up on the multi use trail system or have to scope out your area thoroughly.

                I'm really sorry that yet another open space has been lost.
                Maybe this is a time to have a council of war among the horsemen's groups and find out just what it will take to retain your rights - someone is bound to let slip how much FIFA paid to "improve" the park - but if FIFA has a huge membership then that speaks as well - a few of "us" have less clout than more of "them".
                Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                Incredible Invisible


                • Original Poster

                  Food for thought- yes I am sure the contractors who built the soccer stadiums have a powerful "in" with the local city council. And although there are more horse owners who also pay land taxes than there are soccer players who pay poreprty tax, and more horse owners showed up to protest than soccer players, it did not matter

                  Re- footing and horses damaging trails- for nearly 50 years, the local horseman's club built and maintained the trails we are now banned from, or the ones that have been paved over, and there were never any issues with bad footing until about a decade ago when mountain biking became popular. The linear tracks from the mountain bikes promote rain erosion and turned many trails into soup and waterfalls as a result.

                  Now horses are banned, and mountain bikes are allowed. I don't get that.

                  As for buying my own hayfield to ride in- the two acre hayfield I used to lease across the street was just sold for more than $600,000. Even two acres is pretty small to ride in when you are galloping.The municipally owned hayfield that was turned into soccer fields was about 15 acres. Its estimated worth to purchase would be well over 3 million. I am not a gazzilionaire.
                  "The Threat of Internet Ignorance: ... we are witnessing the rise of an age of equestrian disinformation, one where a trusting public can graze on nonsense packaged to look like fact."-LRG-AF


                  • #10
                    Yep, the wonders of soccer...I hate that damn "sport".

                    We had a small area where archery fields were set up for 25 years....with a cemetery behind it...safe and non-impact on the environment. Tons of illegals move into the area...tadaa! no more archery, new soccer fields to keep Juan and Cisco happy. No Americans at these fields.

                    The Washington Bridle Trails Association (WBTA) started and maintained trails through Rock Creek Park in DC and Maryland...Bunch of spoiled housewives want to push their spawn in their prams in between shopping and lunching. They whined the nasty horses went the bathroom, and we needed to exclude these dangerous animals from where they wished to walk...so, whining wealthy cows win...a lot of the 1930's started trails are no longer available to horses due to these narcissists and their brats.

                    Washington and Old Dominion "Rails to Trails" was done to include horses and bikers/walkers. One paved trail and a hilly blue stone for the horses. Nope, idiot breeders pushing strollers 3-across with a spawn or two peddling Bigwheels blocked everyone else trying to use the paved trail..."But, it's for the childrun, they're your future" they mewed. So, the bikers started using the horse bluestone trails...not good. Once again the lowest narcissist element ruined it for everyone but themselves.

                    The lowest elements will win, be it bikers, whining housefrau's, or soccerball kicking gardeners.
                    "Sic Gorgiamus Allos Subjectatos Nunc"


                    • Original Poster

                      Yikes, trakehner. I'd say the same is happening here, but we do not have a lot of illegal immigrants, even fewer of us can afford gardeners and servants and such that are so very common in the USA, and the few people who do use the soccer and baseball fields here are all pretty much Canadian born kids under age 16. This is definitely NOT a racial issue.

                      I am with you on the pram pushing breeders and narcissistic bikers though.

                      On a very sad note, one of the dirt bike riding kids who was forever screaming through the trails where no motorized vehicles are allowed, was killed on Friday when he tried to beat traffic across the intersection at the end of my road. I was going to get my mail and there was his bike, torn in half by the impact of a car going much too fast, and his body, covered in a sheet. I can't help but think he might be alive if his parents had supervised his riding habits better.
                      "The Threat of Internet Ignorance: ... we are witnessing the rise of an age of equestrian disinformation, one where a trusting public can graze on nonsense packaged to look like fact."-LRG-AF


                      • #12
                        Horse owners HAVE to be more pro-active. We all need to unite and become a lobby of our own.
                        I see the above happening in more and more places. In Sacramento the bikers are taking over the horse trails and there have been some bad accidents involving the motor bikes and horses. But the Bikers have the more powerful "lobby". Who gets booted? Not the motor-bikers and pedal bikers. It is the horses that get booted.
                        It is such now that one has to trailer to far distant places to ride mountain trails and still the motorcyclists are even there too! And they DO own the trails. Or so they think. It is a bad situation and it is getting worse.
                        There needs to be an organization for horse owners formed and it has to be nation wide. There is no respect from cyclists of any kind for horses and their riders. They act as if we are intruding on THEIR trails.
                        It is going to get worse. I agree with the above posts of the Pram-pushers and their tricycle children taking over the trails in our large park nearby. It is their trail and no one elses.
                        They refuse to give right of way to horses. And yes they do complain about the horse droppings. But I have seen them and their children toss trash on trails in plain view of all.
                        I guess it is a sign of the times we live in.