Combating Trail Closure

The American Horse Council seeks to document equestrian access issues on public lands.

From The American Horse Council

The American Horse Council has launched a new effort to collect information on access issues equestrians are experiencing on federal lands. The centerpiece of this effort is an online form equestrians can use to report their personal experiences regarding trails and federal lands that have been closed to them, or any other access issues they've encountered.

Americans who use horses enjoy a unique experience when they ride on trails and public lands. It is an experience that cannot be enjoyed without a trail system, trailhead access and areas for camping.  It is an experience that Americans enjoyed even before there was a national park system and an experience they want to continue.

Unfortunately, equestrians are seeing an increasing loss of access to trails. Riders are being excluded from areas that they have historically traveled through. Sometimes restrictions on equestrian use are done intentionally through management plans that reduce, restrict or eliminate horses and horse facilities, camping restrictions or closures. Sometimes the restrictions are indirect, such as a lack of trail maintenance.

The American Quarter Horse blazed a trail in American history. Learn more about how you can blaze your own trails in our Recreational Riding report.

To better combat this trend, AHC is asking riders to document examples of trails or entire areas that have been closed to equestrians on federal land. AHC is seeking all relevant information concerning these closures, such as the reason for the loss of access, details concerning any public process that was involved and the history of equestrian use on the closed trail or area.

"The reduction of trails, trail heads and the closure of public lands to horses and pack animals is a continuing problem for equestrians. However, there is no centralized, comprehensive database that documents any loss of access," said AHC President Jay Hickey. "We hope by giving equestrians a place to report their experiences, we can get a better picture of the problem and use that information to fix it."

AHC is asking all recreational riders to visit the AHC Web site and report any access issues they have had, using this electronic form.

You know forerunners of your American Quarter Horse made history in America by being great all-around horses. One of the many things Quarter Horses excel at is trail riding. Learn all about new ways to enjoy the trail in our Recreational Riding report.

Conserving trails and promoting enjoyment of the outdoors is part of AQHA's mission. Our Stewards for Trails, Education and Partnerships (STEP) program was designed to further this mission. Please join us in working to preserve the outdoors that we all enjoy so much. And don't forget, you can earn rewards for cruising the trails you love with the equine partner you adore through the AQHA Horseback Riding Program!