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Trail Ride

STEP Program Overview

STEP - Stewards for Trails, Education and Partnerships is a new program under AQHA's wing that was formerly known as Trail Trotters. Trail Trotters was launched in November 2004 by the Equestrian Land Conservation Resource in partnership with the National Forest Foundation. The idea was to build a program that would increase participation in trail stewardship among equine enthusiasts while casting a positive light on horseback riders to land managers and other trail users.

Equestrian groups and individuals are encouraged to participate in trail maintenance and restoration projects. Thanks to the partnership with Tractor Supply Company, AQHA will be funding groups or organizations that have the most impact for community involvement and trail sustainability.

Program Benefits

  • Help the National land managers recruit volunteers for trail stewardship
  • Educate equestrians so they will be effective advocates for trail stewardship in the horse community
  • Accomplish maintenance goals for trails and trailheads with land management
  • Improve stewardship of land owned by horsemen that are adjacent to or critical to national land
  • Build and/or strengthen relationships between local equestrian communities and land managers for the long-term stewardship of trails, trailheads and campgrounds

What is STEP?

STEP – Stewards for Trails, Education and Partnerships – is a new program under the American Quarter Horse Association that was formed to encourage good stewardship and conservation of riding trails.

Who developed STEP?

Formerly known as Trail Trotters, the program was launched in November 2004 by the Equestrian Land Conservation Resource in partnership with the National Forest Foundation. It was taken under AQHA’s wing in April 2007, and renamed to STEP to more clearly explain the scope of the program.

What is the purpose of STEP?

The program’s mission is to promote equestrian involvement in the restoration, repair and establishment of trails. STEP hopes to unify horseback riders and other trail users in an effort to build and strengthen relationships between local equestrian communities, the forest service and other land managers for the long-term stewardship of trails.

How does STEP work?

Each year, AQHA encourages horse enthusiasts to volunteer their time and resources to trail maintenance and development on public and private land. This can include anything from clearing shrubs or branches from existing trails to developing new trails altogether.

How do I get involved?

Groups or individuals can organize and complete trail conservation projects on any public and/or private land. Simply coordinate with your trail’s land manager, register your project with AQHA and then head to the trails!

Who can participate?

Anyone who enjoys horseback riding on trails and wants to see these trails preserved for years to come is welcome to participate. Trail conservation projects are great for riding clubs, 4-H groups and youth organizations.

Can we get funding for our work?

Yes! Thanks to the generous sponsorship of AQHA Corporate Partner, Tractor Supply Company, funding is available for a variety of trail activities. Application must be received by AQHA on or before August 1 of each year to be considered for funding.