Galloping into Arizona the International Trails Symposium will be held April 14 -17. Previously known as the National Trails Symposium it is held every other year and this year heading to Arizona, specifically Fountain Hills at the Radisson Fort McDowell Resort which is the center of the symposium.
I’ve attended two or three of these over the years and EQUESTRIANS have been among the lowest of attendees!! But when one considers, 90% of the attendees are park, trails, government (federal, state, county) agencies (National Forest Service, National Park Service, BLM, etc.) I’d think equestrians and especially the organizations that represent them would put in a better showing!!
The Exhibit Hall is always full of the latest camping, information, techniques for building trails but few equine organizations attend. Mountain bikers and bikers were the largest group at the Symposium in Davenport, Iowa a few years back. Hikers, skiers, mountain climbers, sky divers, river interests were in line with horsemen having a couple booths — The Backcountry of America and a couple other local organizations.
It’s alway amazes me at how quick we horseowners are to complain about trail closures, new regulations and other things yet we never seem to have the TIME to attend these symposiums and meetings to express our concerns. Why? Is it we expect someone else to do it for us? With more demand on trail space and open space uses, we’re going to be left in the dust on the locked side of gates if we don’t get into these meetings. Even some of the organizations are beginning to ignore equine trail riders simply because we — as recreational riders — don’t get off our horses and attend meetings. Yet if you look at all the equine associations, organizations and even American Horse Council statistics, the recreational horseowner is the largest ‘money’ in the horse industry!!
I’m hoping this year will be different!! Horseowners from California (which has the largest percentage of recreational trails nationwide) should head to Arizona. The Arizona Horse Council plus New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Oregon, Nevada, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming — any state west of the Rockies should be in attendance. And attend the workshops and yes, even a TRAIL RIDE! Considering the cost of fuels, flights, travel, meals, motels I’d say horseowners EAST of the Rockies should at least send messages and notes that they are trail riders — even if they can’t come in person.
So far the agenda includes and which I plan to attend::
Sunday, April 14 — “Horseback Trail Ride Along the Verde River” 4 hours .
1 – 2:30 “Weed Free Feed — Fact or Ficton?”. I’m giving this Featured Workshop because more and more agencies are REQUIRING weed free feed to ride on public lands. Will present the latest scientific data from a National Park Service Grant completed in California which addressed the issue of weed seeds in horse manure.
3:30 – 5:30 — The Horse Trails Caucus sponsored by the American Quarter Horse Association’s STEP Program. A program for trail riders. AQHA is the ONLY equine association, organizaion sponsoring anything at the International Trails Symposium even though other organizations have their recreational trail riding programs too.
Monday, April 15 –
7 – 8 am, Trail Talk Continental Breakfast and Networking. (THE place to go to meet folks.)
8:15 – 11:15 — “Hikers, Mountain Bikers & Equestrians — Oh My!!”
Tuesday, April 16 –
1:15 – 5:15 — “Equestrian Trails”. This is considered a ‘Core Track’ presentation and will be attended by trail, park, open space designers, managers, rangers, etc. During this presentation, Two Horse Enterprises will give every attendee a copy of the Forest Service’s publication “Equestrian Design Guidebook for Trails, Trailheads and Campgrounds”. This is considered by many ‘the bible’ for equestrian users and is one of the best kept secrets within the National Forest Service. If you’d like to see what it looks like, go to Two Horse website (www.twohorseenterprises.com). Two Horse printed a 100 and hopefully these will get into the offices of trail builders to keep trails open.
There are many, many other workshops, displays, demonstrations, clinics beside the ones above which will affect/effect our trails uses.
We need to let everyone there know we do have a ‘hoof on the trail’.. So I’m asking each and everyone of you who reads this (or saw the notice in “Trail Rider” magazine) to PLEASE, PLEASE drop me an e-mail or a note or a letter (PO Box 608, Pleasanton, Ca. 94566) and say “I’m an equestrian trail rider! I have a hoof on these trails: (and then list some of the trails you ride)”. If you belong to a club, association, group that trail rides — regardless of who you are or where — send some information on your group in the form of brochures, pamphlets, letters and I’ll make sure they get displayed at the Symposium too!! .
What I plan to do is print, and display all these messages at the Symposium. Let agency people KNOW we do care about our trails and we want to keep them open. So please take some time to let me know. I’m willing to go to the Symposium, pay the expenses, attend and all I’m asking from you guys is a couple minutes of your time to e-mail me or a stamp and post card or letter so I can say “Yes, we recreational trail riders are USING our trails. You’ll hear hoofbeats all over this country if we’re allowed to ride OUR public lands!!
Thanks in advance and I’ll let you guys know some of the answers received………
PO Box 608
Pleasanton, Ca. 94566