Cambridge residents want more horse and bridle trails, according to a report on people's ideas for the future of the town.
But Waipā District Council is making no promises.
The council currently has no designated areas for riding horses. People can ride horses along the side of walkways around the Cambridge Green Belt and in the Crown-owned Sainsbury Reserve near Pirongia.
In October 2018, the council asked people to share their ideas about what was needed to help the town support and attract visitors and businesses.
The consultation was a broad investigation into ideas for the town. More than 1700 ideas were suggested via an interactive map, work-shops and submissions.
In one of several questions, people were asked to visualise the "first things they can see and hear in a future Cambridge".
Most people mentioned themes around horse and bridle trails (49 mentions), followed by a pedestrian-friendly Cambridge (31 mentions) and nature, trees, parks, gardens and birds (30 mentions).
A lack of horse trails is an issue that been bubbling away in equestrian circles around the district.
Cambridge woman Trudy Lyles, owner of Overdale Riding Centre, says there are not enough horse trails.
"For such a horsey town that's provided equestrian Olympic medal-winning riders, I just find it quite odd that there are not many places to ride. There seems to be lots of arenas to ride around in circles and jump in, but if I want to take my horse for a hack I drive all the way down to Rotorua."
Trudy lived in Kumeū for five years before moving to Cambridge and fondly remembers riding her horse in Woodhill Forest.
"It was a 10 minute drive and you could just canter and canter and it was all sand-based and divine to work on. When I moved back to the Waikato it was quite a shock for me to realise how little areas there were provided for riders."
Trudy also used to live in Te Awamutu where she would ride along the verge of Frontier Rd and through local farms — in exchange for a box of beer. She then moved from Te Awamutu to Cambridge for grazing opportunities.
Trudy acknowledges there is a free trail in Pirongia — Sainsbury Reserve — but says it can be slippery and dangerous in the rain.
Cambridge Chamber of Commerce CEO Kelly Bouzaid says the idea of horse trails is "bold and brilliant" and could provide domestic and international tourists with another reason to visit.
"Cambridge is well-respected for its equestrian history and success across many disciplines so it would be fitting to encompass trails that are designed and built with an eye towards environmental and social sustainability, can allow riders to explore beautiful landscapes with minimal impact and without evidence of their passing.
"A good trail can also provide an oasis of natural serenity within the confines of a largely urban environment and given the speed on our roads deliver a safe place for our equestrian talent to ride. I would anticipate that both existing and new equine businesses would explore the potential the trails would present."
But Waipā District Council is making no specific guarantees for a horse trail in Cambridge.
Strategy manager Kirsty Downey says the Cambridge Town Concept Plan is a long-term, high-level plan for the area which does not go into that level of detail.
"There are other projects that will be better suited to look at the option for a shared bridle trail around Cambridge.
"Council appreciates the support for a shared bridle trail and looks forward to engaging with the equestrian community in the future."
Kirsty says the feedback from the October consultation identified "five key areas" that Cambridge residents said were most important to them, and the council wants residents to help refine them further.
Residents are encouraged to continue offering their feedback by ranking their favourite ideas using an online tool at www.waipadc.govt.nz/haveyoursay.
The online tool includes ideas about Cambridge's town centre, activity hubs, green spaces, entrances to the town and transport options. Horse trails are not specifically mentioned in the "five key areas".
Council is hosting two drop-in sessions for people keen to find out more.
The sessions will be held at the council's Cambridge office on Wednesday, May 22 from 5pm to 7pm and on Thursday, May 23 from 11am to 1.30pm.
Feedback is open until 5pm on May 31.