Yay or Neigh? Horses on the Greenway Trail

Lauren O'Brien
By Lauren O'Brien April 20, 2018 15:07

Shelby Marie and her horse, Malakai, ride outside on a nice winter day. (Photo by: Lauren O’Brien)

The Essex Region Conservation Authority could soon prevent equestrians from riding on the Chrysler Canada Greenway.

Horse access is currently restricted to two sections of the 50 km multi-use trail. One section is between South Talbot Road and Concession 4 in the north-south and the other on Ferris Side Road and McCain Road in the east-west.

The Chrysler Greenway Trail is part of the Trans Canada Great Trail. The section begins south of Oldcastle, continues south through the towns of McGregor and Harrow and runs through Kingsville to Ruthven.

Jane O’Faherty, a representative from the Trans Canada Trail, said the company promotes cyclists, hikers, equestrians, cross-country skiers and snowmobilers.

Tanya Harrison, 43, an equestrian from Essex County, said the current restrictions are going against the Trans Canada Trail’s mission of welcoming all users. On the their website, horseback riding is listed as one of the recognized and encouraged uses.

“This trail should be honored for what it is, a multi-user trail, not just a flat bike path,” said Harrison.

Harrison and her four children have walked, cycled and ridden their horses along the Greenway Trail for years. She said she thinks horses not being allowed on sections of the trail would force equestrians to the roads, causing a safety hazard. She has noticed a lot of drivers do not care that they are required to slow down and move over if a horse is on the road.

“Horses are animals, they can get scared and react by bucking or bolting. It is not safe to ride along the road,” said Harrison.

Gary Shultz, a local cyclist, said his view on equestrians has changed over the years. Originally, he had no problems with equestrians using the trail, but after experiencing the damage horses cause on the trail’s surface, especially in wet conditions, he thinks restrictions should be in place.

“If horseback riders could select one tire track and leave the other tire track smooth that would be a compromise for both users,” said Shultz.

He said riding over this surface at higher speeds is difficult and taxing on the body, as well as damaging to equipment. The uneven surface could lead to a twisted ankle or other injuries to joggers as well.

“When a horse leaves a deep hoofprint in a moist surface and that surface dries, it becomes like concrete and is very hard to repair,” said Shultz.

According to an article by the Windsor Star, ERCA’s board decided to have staff look at the options and hold public consultation meetings though they don’t have an exact date.

Lauren O'Brien
By Lauren O'Brien April 20, 2018 15:07

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