My Turn: Cleaning up horse manure? No big deal!
As a lifelong horseback rider, I was appalled and dismayed by the overreaction of so many equestrians to the state’s proposal that riders would be required to remove their horse’s manure from the trails.
This is a perfectly reasonable proposal. I’ve been doing just that for years. It’s just a matter of common courtesy to other trail users and not a big deal. Either you guide your horse to the side of the trail when you sense it’s time for him to “go,” thereby not depositing the manure on the trail, or you stop, get off your horse, kick the manure off the trail, then get back on and continue riding. Not a problem at all.
For those who maintain they need a mounting block to get on their horse, I also can no longer mount directly from the ground, as I could in my younger days. However, this is New Hampshire. There’s always a fallen log, tree stump, boulder or a rise in the ground that can be used to mount.
And those who say it’s dangerous to get off a horse to move manure aside shouldn’t be out there on a horse in the first place. Stating that dismounting in the woods is dangerous is just plain rubbish. If you can’t control your horse while dismounted, find another hobby. It’ll be safer for you, your horse, and the rest of us who enjoy riding, and know how to do it safely.
The only excuse for not cleaning up after your horse is just plain laziness. While horse manure isn’t offensive to most of us riders, it is to the general public. Let’s be honest: A big, smelly pile of fresh horse droppings is not what most people want to see or, worse, step in, when they’re out on a trail. Attitudes such as exhibited by those equestrians who don’t want to make the minimal effort to clean up a trail for others only reinforces the view so many people have of horseback riders as rich snobs who belong to some elite society. While most horse owners are neither wealthy nor snobs, selfish attitudes on the part of equestrians don’t help our image.
As far as the other proposal, to limit horseback riding to hardened trails that are 8 feet wide, that is totally unreasonable. It would eliminate access to most of the trails equestrians currently use. This proposal should be dropped, and fast.
Finally, to all those equestrians complaining about the proposed rules changes, be grateful those are all you have to worry about. Right now, in Connecticut, the state Supreme Court has just heard an appeal of a Connecticut Appellate Court ruling which has declared that “Horses as a species are an inherently dangerous and vicious animal, with an inclination to do mischief and a propensity to bite.” If the Connecticut Supreme Court does not overturn that decision, horses in Connecticut will be considered in the same classification as wild animals kept in zoos. In other words, horses would be virtually uninsurable, and could not be kept except in secure facilities. That means horses would become practically extinct in Connecticut.
Compared to that, moving a little manure around is a minor inconvenience indeed.
(James J. Griffin lives in Keene.)