|Not a member? Sign up now!|
Horse riders are asked to get out their cameras, or GPS units and write about local horse riding areas. The NZ Bridleways website provides information on public horse riding areas and trails, even places where you can take your horse on holiday. Local input from riders around the country is needed to complete the task, and photos and rider reviews are important to complete the guide.
In 2007 a number of horse enthusiasts started on the task when they realised how difficult it was for many horse riders to find trails and public riding areas. "There are tracks, paper roads, old logging trails and mustering routes all over the country on public land." says Vivien Dostine, Founder of NZ Horse Recreation. "There are also many places that are open to horses, walkers and bikes through the kindness of landowners, or the permission of local agencies and authorities."
While the generosity of landowners has often sustained horse recreation in the past, it also creates uncertainty for the future. Subdivision has meant the loss of many traditional riding spaces, and a more mobile population may not have the links to landowners that once existed. The change in farming from generational family homestead to corporate style business, can change access with a single sale. Councils enjoy receiving the rates from properties that increase in value as soon as the tag 'equestrian' is added to it, but rarely provide recreation areas or trails for those ratepayers at the same level as they support other sports.
Mapping horse routes, and riding areas will help current and future generations of riders. Not only will current riders be able to find places to ride more easily, but we will be able to keep watch over any proposed closures, or lobby for greater access. "We want to have a really good guide for people getting into horse riding, moving into a new area, and even for those who have ridden for years but haven't kept abreast of changes." says Viv. "For some places we can provide almost a virtual tour, from where to park right through to riding along the trails. We'd like to be able to provide that level of detail across the country."
There are a number of regions with very high horse recreation, including Northland, Gisborne and Hawkes Bay that we have very little information about. These places famous for their horses and horsemanship, and they also have many areas of great scenic beauty and cultural interest. "We'd love to hear more from the people in those areas about where they are riding now, and also if they face problems with access."
Horse riding remains a popular recreational activity, particularly with women. It can provide a great way for those with a variety of disabilities to participate independently in outdoor adventures. The horse is also an important but under-rated link to the country's farming and cultural history.
If you can help to map the nation's horse trails, visit NZ Bridleways website www.nzbridleways.info and fill in the online form. Whether it is a park or recreation area available for public horse recreation, a paper road, or even roads with good wide verges (and Council backing to use them), map it now!