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2018: The year we eradicate 'luck' from our vocabulary

It has been 10 years since the idea for a national body of, and for recreational horse riders was born. The first steps were very tentative; a group of 'accidental representatives' at an Auckland Regional Parks workshop. It turns out we all thought 'someone has made a mistake here' or 'the bigwigs from equestrian HQ will have this'.  Lesson number one - there are no bigwigs when it comes to recreational horse riders in New Zealand.  We're it!   It's been a steep learning curve, which continues to this day.

The most rewarding thing has been meeting the individuals across the country who are dedicated to keeping, and improving horse riding trails, and access.  
Few will ever take much credit for their selfless work, but without them I am certain that we would all have lost access to many more beaches, and parks across the country in the last 10 years. 
The most disappointing is the apathy still out there.  So many riders, still talk about luck. "We&#…
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Invisibility: It's a real thing on our roads

New Zealand drivers encountering horse floats, and horse trucks often bemoan our speed on the road.  They seem not to realise that anyone towing a trailer is limited to 90kph on 100kph roads, have no empathy for our living load, or recognise the lack of safe areas for large vehicles like ours (with our live load) to let others pass. But yesterday I was reminded of the old sign on trucks, "if you can't see my mirrors, I can't see you" ; a tailgater had appeared (or not appeared in this case).

many seem determined to ensure that we cannot possibly let them past, by hiding from us.   
I look frequently in my mirrors, but it was a while before I saw just the slightest peek of a vehicle, a driver who had tucked in closely behind me. This genius did an outstanding job of being invisible, sitting right behind my float for what I can only guess was many kilometres.  It seems that despite the moaning, many seem determined to ensure we cannot possibly let them past, by hiding…

More ado about poo, or litter

Received another email about manure today.  I'm always half tempted to either just ignore it entirely, or send a terse response about getting a life.  But I didn't.  I took the time to look at the issues raised, and send a reasoned reply, although I'm not at all certain that any rational response will be accepted.

In this case, the emailer was not happy with our beach code, which tells riders to ride below the high tide mark to allow any manure to be washed away. It insisted that this would be in breach of the Litter Act.

So let's look at how our advice on the beach code was developed, and whether manure really is covered under the Litter Act.

The Litter Act 1979 is designed to deal with, well litter.  It contains both a definition of litter, and of the term 'depositing', in other words what litter is, and under what circumstances you might be littering.

In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires,—

depositing, in relation to litter, includes—(a)casting, …

An Open Letter to Ministers for Horse Rider Road Safety

Today an open letterwas sent to the Ministers of Transport, Sport and Recreation, ACC, and Health to ask for their support to improve the safety of horse riders on our roads.  Along with the letter, was a copy of the online petition (currently standing at 5,252 signatures) in support of the changes, and some information about how we compare to other countries, like the UK and Australia.

Some of the changes we are requesting are more signal than anything else.  A signal that, we exist, and our lives matter.  A signal that small things, details to some, can make a big difference when they are very clearly stated, or mandated by law.
We're sending a signal that our lives matter.  There is no request to downgrade existing priorities, or even rigorously enforce every instance of offence. Hell, no law guarantees that. But we do want recognition that we equestrians are people too, and deserving of safe roads, or preferably roadsides, for recreation and transport.

There are even benefits …

The Ride 4 Road Safety

The Ride for Road Safety took place across the country on Sunday (the 19th November).  As a media event it was a huge success, being featured on all the major outlets. Rides took place across the country, and presented a great visual for the media on a Sunday news night, but they did also have a much more important message.

Simply seeing so many riders was hopefully a wake up call for many road engineers, and transport planners.  We are apparently invisible to this group of people, and since we are certainly invisible statistically the ride was accompanied by a quickfire survey.  A few questions to gauge riders' perception of road safety, and also to get some feedback on incidents involving horse riders.

The responses were somewhat predictable, with the vast majority of riders now feeling unsafe on the roads; riders being displaced as the roads are perceived as increasingly dangerous.

Equestrian Trail Tourism

Many countries have trail tourism as part of their tourism strategy.  In most cases, trails serve multiple purposes; providing recreation for locals (and those not so local), and providing a boost to regional economies by attracting visitors (both domestic and international). Walking, cycling and horse riding tourism are big business, and local recreation for all three groups is supported at local, regional and national levels.

Some countries are, of course, well ahead of us by virtue of their historic routes, and attitudes to public access.  The UK and Europe have a vast number of publicly accessible routes that enable people to stay fit, enjoy the countryside, perform pilgrimages, or enjoy active holidays and adventures.

By contrast New Zealand has been slow to recognise the value of trails.  We have had national parks for a long time (Tongariro National Park was established in 1880), and within these we have many world renown hiking trails.  But it was not until the 1990's that…