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Horse riding in NH could see restrictions

Union Leader Correspondent

October 01. 2013 8:43PM

PLYMOUTH — Jenny Tuthill of Alexandria said she’s been riding a horse since she was 6 years old. Now 66, she’s hobbled and can’t walk to her favorite places near her home.

But she can still ride a horse there.

“I can go on horseback where I can’t walk anymore,” she said.

“These new rules are insane.”

Tuthill spoke at a Department of Resources and Economic Development hearing on rule changes proposed for state laws that many of the 50 in attendance said will adversely affect horseback riders in the state.

Most said they instead favor the state imposing a fee-based system for trails, as other states have.

The state rules presently allow riding on blazed, road-width trails unless otherwise posted. The new rules would limit riders to hardened trails that must be at least eight feet wide and must be posted for equestrian use.

State officials have said their intention is not to limit horseback riding, but Tuthill and most of those attending think the rules will adversely affect a recreational activity that many at the meeting said is an important part of Granite State culture.

Tuthill said she’s been to national parks in the west that have few restrictions on horseback riding, but have restrictions on other, more trail-damaging activities.

“Out there horses have the right of way,” she said.

Catherine Amidon of Plymouth agreed.

“There is an incredible significance of horseback riding in this state and this region,” she said. “To allow snowmobiles to run and restrict horses is something I can’t fathom.”

Tim Harvey of Campton said in other states, “trails have signs telling you what you can’t do, not what you can do.

By restricting riders to the new law, which says horseback riders must ride on a trail designated for horses that is eight feet wide and hardened trails — and Harvey asked the DRED panel what “hardened trails” means in their decision-making process — the state is imposing too much restriction where it isn’t needed.

Another change to the rules stipulates that owners of horses using the trails or beaches would be responsible for picking up their horse’s manure.

Harvey said in other states, riders are responsible for “scattering” their horses’ manure behind them, something New Hampshire riders could do instead of the new rule.

Riders can learn to “get off the horse and scatter their manure,” he said.

“All of this is making it more restrictive, and that does a disservice to this state,” he said. “We could impose a fee-based system and make money on it as other states do.”| Sheilagh Connelly, a selectman from Holderness, and Holderness Police Chief Jake Pattridge spoke in favor of a part of the rules changes not dealing with equestrian issues, but would make Livermore Falls area into a state park, which would outlaw drinking in an area where Pattridge said town police make 40 percent of their yearly arrests.

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