, Derry, New Hampshire


December 5, 2013

Officials retreat on horse trail rules

Equestrians challenge trail use rule changes


But the rules also could have affected riders on the rail trail from Londonderry through Salem.

The state’s revised rules package is still evolving, but officials now say it would expand equestrian use.

It also would require horseback riders to remove manure from places like trail heads and parking lots, something they have not opposed and say they do anyway.

“We made modifications to the rules based on the public comments we heard,” said Philip Bryce, director of the state’s Division of Parks and Recreation.

A revised rules package will be available for public comment soon and posted on the division’s website.

Bryce said that while more forums aren’t required, the state will schedule time to hear from the public anyway.

Riders said state officials became responsive to their concerns once confronted by the dozens and, in some cases, hundreds, who attended forums.

“They had no idea how many people were out there riding,” said Pat Darmofal of Haverhill, treasurer with the Derry Trail Riders.

“That’s a fraction of it,” said manager Taylor Hole of Shannon Trails riding facility in Salem.

A lot of owners wouldn’t have the time to attend forums because of their time commitment to their horses, he said.

Hole was doing what he could, writing in support of the horseback riders.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that nothing should be restricted,” Hole said.

“Nonsense,” is how he characterized the proposed limits on riders.

A point horseback riders have made with the state is the economic impact of their sport that benefits businesses ranging from veterinarians to feed stores.

Mallinson said equestrians lacked the kind of statewide trails advocacy coalition other recreational have working with DRED, which is why the agency was caught off guard by riders.

One is now forming, she said.

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