Horses are Still Welcome on NH State Trails - 203 responses

Sep 29, 2013

The Department of Resources and Economic Development recently announced proposed changes to rules that would appear to severely limit horseback riding on state-owned land. While the equestrian community is predictably upset, state officials counter that these changes do not in fact alter the substance of existing law, but rather clarify them.

In addition to “clarifying’ blazed, road-width trails as hardened and posted trails at least eight feet wide unless otherwise posted, the new proposal also stipulates owners would be responsible for picking up their horse’s manure.

However, when the Live Free or Die Alliance (LFDA) asked its members on September 29th whether they supported these rule changes, opinion was overwhelmingly negative, as 90 percent of those who directly answered the question voiced their disapproval. Only 6 percent of the commentators thought the new regulations were reasonable, and the remaining 4 percent did not clearly respond to the question.

Several respondents openly questioned the need to focus on legislation that would affect so few NH citizens when other issues seem decidedly more pertinent to the larger population. “This is beyond ridiculous,” said one member. “Stop wasting our time and money…We need jobs and healthcare in this State.”

Others expressed a concern that legislators have lost sight of the principles upon which the state of NH was founded. “What happened to the ‘Live Free’ part of our state motto?” asked one gentleman, whose simple rhetorical question captured the tenor of many who voiced a strong disapproval.

Out of the few who favored the proposed legislation, the prevailing logic centered on the notion that horses should be treated no differently than dogs. “I can't take my dogs hiking anywhere I want, and it's the law that I pick up after them...even on the few trails that I can take them to,” reasoned one woman.

In soliciting opinions for this subject, the LFDA received 203 citizen responses, including specific comments from 96 individuals that are supported by 87 concurrences. In brief, if the LFDA community may serve as a barometer for citizens of our state, most feel that the fact state legislators are devoting valuable resources and time to such a topic makes little sense.

The LFDA presents this report as a summary of citizen testimony as opposed to a scientific poll or survey. As New Hampshire’s Virtual Town Hall, the nonprofit, nonpartisan LFDA, now numbering over 20,000, provides objective information about state issues, promotes the civil exchange of opinions, and communicates views to elected officials.

Rob Levey is an editor of the Live Free or Die Alliance.

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