Usually I’m quite happy with the nature management organisations in the Netherlands. They attend the nature, keep parking lots and bicycle paths well maintained, all very nice. But the way they completely neglect horse trails, that is just not okay.
In the Netherlands, we have a really good network of horse trails, all through the country. It enables thousands of riders to enjoy nature, while avoiding big roads and common walking trails. The latter we are not allowed to ride on, anyway, so it’s great we have our own alternative.
Or maybe I should say, we had. For over the past years, many of these horse trails have been completely neglected. Where you could once ride with two horses side by side, there is now scarcely room for one horse, and you have to manoeuvre through overhanging branches and bushes on top of that. Paths that already used to be a bit more narrow now seem to have completely disappeared.
And what options do you have as rider, when you come across such a vanished path? When you were supposed to ride there? Well, you have to find another route. Which most of the time means riding over the normal walking trail. Or following the bicycle path for a bit. Both of which form a great inconvenience, possibly danger even, for the other people enjoying nature, the hikers and cyclists.
It’s always a big dilemma to me. I really don’t want to be a bother to other people. I mean, I know a horse is rather big and damages the path with its hooves and all that. But there is no way I’m going to walk my horse into a thick layer of brambles!
Because above all, the health of my horse is more important than anything. And right now, riding on those neglected horse trails poses a very real threat to her well-being. Are you even aware of that, nature keepers? You can’t keep horses out of the forests. So to ensure happiness and safety of not only horses and riders but of all the other people enjoying nature as well, you will have to tend to your horse trails. Please.
Here is a short video I made this morning of another neglected horse trail. If you can even call it a trail still…
If you also suffer from badly maintained horse trails, share this post, or send your own message to your local authority. The more voices, the better we will be heard!