Horse parks future option

By Lawrence Gullery


Equestrian riders pay rates as well as taxes and therefore should be able to use the public cycleways, walkways and parks being built around Hastings and Napier.

That's just one of the views put forward by the equestrian fraternity as the Hastings District Council considers a request, through its long-term plan, for horses to share pathways and parks with people.

The council had not historically allowed equestrian access to parks because horses in public areas "can conflict" with other people using the reserves.

It would consider providing for horse riding in the future in "appropriate areas" and recognised Hawke's Bay Regional Council had already made bridle paths available in "more rural areas".

The council had been worried about who would be responsible for cleaning up horse poo on public pathways where equestrian riders were already appearing.

But people from the equestrian fraternity who responded to Hawke's Bay Today's request for feedback said many trails already had cattle grazing on them and were often covered in poo.

Some said horses would have to travel at a "controlled speed", maybe only walking and trotting. Others were worried horses would "cut up" the pathways in wet weather.

Riders would need to "dismount and kick manure off the track" in order to deal with the problem of horse droppings.

Hastings woman and equestrian coach Denise Bentall said she thought it was "a great idea" to let horses on the trails.

"People love to hack out, go for a ride off their property. Roads are often dangerous but it is good for the horses and riders to get out. If there is a safe place to ride, it increases the well-being of both," she said.

Mrs Bentall said manure would be an issue if it annoyed other trail users.

"It dries out and disappears fairly quickly however and I believe the minor problems associated with a bit of manure left on the trail is outweighed by the benefit of more public being able to make use of the trails."

Mrs Bentall said people enjoying the trails might also "enjoy the sights of horses using them too".

Comments posted online on the issue said horse riders were "one of the most considerate" types of people and "I have never had a problem with them on cycle trails or on backroads when motorcycling".

"We should be thankful these trails have been limestoned and work to share them with all.

"I can assure those concerned that exposure to animal droppings while cycling or walking is not harmful and it comes out in the wash."

Others said it was hard to cycle around horse poo but was "part of the cycling experience" in Hawke's Bay.

"Dog owners are made to clean up their dog's poo's, why should horse owners be able to leave their horse poo on the track.

"Horse poo is a lot bigger and more smelly then dog poo."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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