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COTH help needed/ Public Speaking on Horse Issue

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  • COTH help needed/ Public Speaking on Horse Issue

    Ok Guys I need input! One of our parks flooded and an environmental group wants to close sections of it to horses and camping. I have found research that states horses are not has destructive to trails as people think.

    Because of an email I sent, I have been asked to speak in front of the Board of Commissioners tomorrow night!! I just found this out at 10:00 this morning.

    Does anyone have any good points or issues that would be helpful to me? I need to have my speech written tonight so I can be prepared tomorrow at 4:00! Any help would be great!

  • #2
    Well, I'd ask them if there's no camping allowed or horseback riding-then what in the world are they going to use it for?? And if it's kept up with your tax money, why wouldn't you be allowed to use it? here we pay extra every year to use the parks for horseback riding-which brings in extra money to keep the trails up. what are they going to do...allow the mountain bikers to take it over? get a club to go with you! there should be a horsemans' council for your state--good luck!!
    Equine Massage Therapy Classes and Rehab for Horses
    http://www.midwestnha.wordpress.com[/INDENT]

    Comment


    • #3
      Do you have a list of their concerns? It would probably be easiest to look at their list of concerns and formulate the opposing view point (with facts). Also be prepared to offer suggestions for improvements that can benefit all.
      A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

      Might be a reason, never an excuse...

      Comment


      • #4
        Start off by THANKING THEM PROFUSELY for trying to figure out the correct course of action. Being a commissioner is a thankless job and this will get you some instant brownie points.
        Make sure you have 3-4 strong primary talking points. Don't overwhelm the commissioners or attendees with information.
        Refer to your research so that people know you aren't just presenting your opinions.
        Try to keep you presentation to about 5 minutes. You probably aren't the only thing on the agenda and commissioners tend to appreciate brevity.
        Write your presentation down. There's nothing wrong with using notes in this setting. Note cards are better because they are less distracting than shuffling papers around.
        Don't worry about being nervous. Nervousness comes from not knowing your subject matter. You know your subject and you feel passionately about it--you will be fine.
        Also, this sounds stupid, but when your presentation is written, practice it on your dog or cat. When you feel comfortable, practice it on your kids or husband and ask them for ways that it could be better. My poor cat has heard more of my speeches . . . but a sounding board is important, even if it can't talk back.
        Remember to SPEAK SLOWLY, more slowly than you think you need to. Don't just try to "git 'er done"--this is important and a slow, measured voice goes a long way towards establishing your credibility.
        Good luck!
        Click here for the Roxie blog!

        Comment


        • #5
          I do a lot of public speaking (and actually enjoy it.)

          I agree that it is a good idea to have a couple of main points written down that you want to make sure to convey. Don't get so tied to "your speech" that you can't address your audience's concerns. Try to present your information in a conversational manner; acknowledging the concerns of both sides. Try to look people in the eye and engage them rather than just reading a prepared statement. If you knew enough to draft the email in a manner that engaged them, you know enough to speak on it without a complete script!

          I always open with a quick summary of what I want to present.

          "Thanks so much for the invitation to participate in your meeting. I hope I can be of some assistance to you as WE work to resolve this issue. As I mentioned in my email, the notion that ridden horses cause x, y, and z on trails is actually not supported by the research. I'd like to quickly share some of the facts about that with you here tonight."

          If there are points of fact that you want to have written down, note cards work well so that you don't have to worry about remembering stats and references.

          I also usually try to draft a "leave behind" document that reiterates my points. You may wish to put together a "Fact Sheet" that you can bring along with you to share with the commissioners. (That sheet should be presented as a RESOURCE on the issue. Write it in a neutral tone and avoid making it too subjective/emotional. Focus on the things that the commissioners care about. )

          If you can do that, make enough copies for each commissioner to have one plus a couple of extra copies. Hand it out to them as you begin: "I took the liberty of jotting down some of the relevant facts and figures for you, including the research done by XYZ last year in a situation very similar to the one we are addressing here. THey had a (scenario) and solved it by (however it was done) and I think that approach is one that is worth considering..." etc.

          Good luck. Remember they invited you because they think you can help them. It does not need to be an adversarial situation and generally it is wise to acknowledge "the other side's" good intentions. "I think we can all agree that preservation of our open space is a worthwhile goal, and I commend (whomever) for dedication to that task. I do think that together we can all come up with a solution that successfully preserves the space while continuing to make this valuable community resource available to everyone, including those who enjoy the recreational aspects of camping, riding, etc."
          **********
          We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.
          -PaulaEdwina

          Comment


          • #6
            Lucassb, very well done.

            We have a very active Horse Council in Texas that has dealt with this issue. If you'd like more assistance, email me and I'll put you in touch with the folks that handled it.

            Good luck and let us know how it goes.
            Visit Sonesta Farms website at www.sonestafarms.com or our FaceBook page at www.facebook.com/sonestafarms. Also showing & breeding Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              Thanks for all the information everyone! The problem is the environmental group is worried about the erosion along the banks of the river where people camp and ride. I will be honest; I do not know how bad it is since they have not let anyone in the park since the flood. The group would love for horses and campers to leave the park so it could be used for hiking only. However, it is a huge park that is county owned. They would lose TONS of revenue if that happened.

              I have discussed economic benefits to horses in the park as well as found a research study that discussed how invasive horses are. I did plan on making a copy of the study for the commissioners so they could read it over.

              As far as solutions, there has been talk of a group of horse people making their own park group that would help keep up the trails. I thought I would mention that as well.

              All the solutions have been great! Thanks for helping me with this. I will probably have questions as I begin writing tonight. I may even post it here, if it is ok, to get everyone’s opinion.

              Sonesta could you pm me with the people from your group?

              Comment


              • #8
                You may wish to offer a compromise - perhaps x number of feet from the banks of the river could be "protected" without eliminating riding and camping in the rest of the park?

                Be cautious about proposing volunteer trail maintenance as a solution unless you have thoroughly researched the county rules & regs on that kind of thing - there may be issues of liability, insurance, etc.

                It may make more sense to propose a new revenue structure that would fund county-provided maintenance. Most local governments are in a revenue crunch right now, and you may find that the revenue and broad(er) community access argument one of the most compelling... particularly if none of the commissioners ride or have much personal familiarity with riders.

                Do you have access to the revenue currently generated by park fees paid by riders and campers? If so, I'd mention it and perhaps gently remind them of the impact that loss of $$$ might have on the park and neighboring community.

                And of course, a large turnout of the riding community (or at least statements of support from same) go a long way.

                Good idea to bring the research paper - but remember, people are lazy. If you can, put a cover memo on it summarizing the points in the article and relate the relevant conclusions to the current situation.

                Good luck.
                **********
                We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.
                -PaulaEdwina

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Originally posted by Lucassb View Post
                  You may wish to offer a compromise - perhaps x number of feet from the banks of the river could be "protected" without eliminating riding and camping in the rest of the park?.
                  I thought about this idea. One problem I have seen is that the banks to the river are steep and many people try to walk down them to swim. A small fence would be great to keep people off the worst areas of the bank.

                  Originally posted by Lucassb View Post
                  Do you have access to the revenue currently generated by park fees paid by riders and campers? If so, I'd mention it and perhaps gently remind them of the impact that loss of $$$ might have on the park and neighboring community.
                  .
                  Sadly I do not. They are not real good with keeping up with the visitor funds. The town where the park is located is very small and poor. I am going to mention the econmic boost of people filling their trucks and shopping at the local stores to buy food and other supplies.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Perhaps you can look into the trail preservation program with AQHA also, where they even offer funds for trail preservation efforts:

                    http://ridegreen.aqha.com/

                    Oh look, lots of good information and publications available on this topic:

                    http://ridegreen.aqha.com/education.html
                    There are friends and faces that may be forgotten, but there are horses that never will be. - Andy Adams

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by spotnnotfarm View Post
                      I thought about this idea. One problem I have seen is that the banks to the river are steep and many people try to walk down them to swim. A small fence would be great to keep people off the worst areas of the bank.



                      Sadly I do not. They are not real good with keeping up with the visitor funds. The town where the park is located is very small and poor. I am going to mention the econmic boost of people filling their trucks and shopping at the local stores to buy food and other supplies.
                      There are VERY few places along the river in the park that are safe to swim.

                      Do not forget there are a LOT of horse people from other countys who buy yearly passes there and, yes, we buy gas and supplies at the stores. This isn't just campers but day riders. More day riders than campers actually.

                      Please update us when you get back from the meeting. This is upsetting to many.

                      I personally would have no problem with avoiding the actual river trail (it's not very long) as long as we still access to the flat which connects some of the trails.
                      You know why cowboys don't like Appaloosas?" - Answer: Because to train a horse, you have to be smarter than it is.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I haven't worked with horse trails specifically, but do work with local conservation lands including issues of public access and how to manage it. If the main concern is erosion on the river banks (or other specific locations such as steep parts of certain trails), proposing that horses not be permitted solely on those particular parts of the trails is a super compromise.

                        I agree emphasizing the local economic benefits the riders and campers bring, as other posters said, is a great thing to include in your talk.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          If the riders are degrading the riverbank going down and across, why not suggest a designated crossing/river access spot, which could be relatively inexpensively graded and gravel put down. A sign indicating could be donated saying "Horse Xing".

                          Good luck tonight.

                          StG

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Thanks for everyones help! I prepared a great speech and had research information to leave with everyone on the board.

                            However, most of them are on the side of the horses and campers so it became a moot point. I did speak but did not have to include all my points beacuse it was clear the park is staying as is! Hooray!!

                            Thanks Cothers!!!!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              WONDERFUL! Congratulations.
                              Visit Sonesta Farms website at www.sonestafarms.com or our FaceBook page at www.facebook.com/sonestafarms. Also showing & breeding Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.

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