Conferences promote Equestrian Issues
Details of the two important conferences that are currently bringing horse trail enthusiasts together: the Ohio Valley Equestrian Trails Symposium and the Southeastern Equestrian Trails.
Illinois Trail Riders, December 2007 Special Edition
A HISTORY OF OVETS AND SETC
The first Ohio Valley Equestrian Trails Symposium (OVETS) was held in northern Kentucky in February, 1999, and the first Southeastern Equestrian Trails Conference was held in Clemson, Alabama, in May, 2000. The idea for both OVETS and SETC came from the National Symposium on Horse Trails in Forest Ecosystems which was held at Clemson University in October, 1998. This national symposium was the first attempt to create a concerted effort at focusing on trails issues in a natural resource conservation policy context. The need to subdivide into separate units of states with similar regional geography led to the formation of OVETS and SETC.
The separate entities (Dr. Greg Jones in cooperation with the Kentucky Horse Council for the 1999 inaugural OVETS and Clemson University for the inaugural 2000 SETC) organized the two regional equestrian conferences. Each began with the common purpose of bringing together people who are concerned about the future of the natural and cultural heritage of the trail experience from the back of a horse.
Both conferences included participants from natural resource agencies, non-government organizations, and individuals representing themselves and/or local saddle clubs. This mix of participants was and is extremely important to the presentation of a wide array of perspectives, values, and knowledge. Both groups used a forum of meaningful communication between natural resource management agencies and trail equestrians that should lead to well-informed decisions that become the platform for trail policy development.
Both OVETS and SETC will continue their pursuit of equestrian self-evaluation, learning, and the development of a conservation force that will influence land-use policies at local, state, regional, and national levels.
Ohio Valley Equestrian Trails Symposium
Begun in 1998, the Ohio Valley Equestrian Trails Symposium has provided a forum for educating trail riders and interested groups about the care, maintenance and preservation of the horse trails located in the Ohio Valley, which includes Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia and Tennessee. The Summit features speakers from a variety of organizations who are involved in trail preservation and maintenance, including State and National Park Managers, officers from other large state trail groups, universities, and local trail groups.
Thousands of miles of trails have been closed to horses across America due to urban development; legitimate problems associated with horse use; lack of knowledge of the actual impact of horses on trails; and not networking with other agencies. Where will you ride tomorrow? Will our cultural heritage of riding in America’s open spaces exist for your children or grandchildren?
You can help preserve our cultural heritage of “riding horses in America’s open spaces,” by attending this educational experience about various trail issues tailored for the riding enthusiast. Attend OVETS to learn how to work with land managers; learn the facts about protecting trails; and learn where to get help when trails are threatened with closure.
2008 Ohio Valley Equestrian Trails Symposium will be held at the Little Lusk Trail Lodge near Eddyville, Illinois on June 19-22, 2008. The program will feature great speakers and demonstrations ranging from trail construction and maintenance to horse health on the trails. The OVETS is an unparalleled educational experience so encourage your local public land managers, all trail users, and the general public to attend. Watch for posted flyers and check the Horsemen’s Council of Illinois website for registration forms. The 2008 OVETS Steering Committee is comprised of members from 6 different states: Illinois - Brian Bourne, Candace Bourne, and Sara Rhoades; Indiana - Christine Eickleberry and Yvette Rollins; Kentucky - Jennifer Truax; Michigan - Mike Foote; Ohio - Jean Dunbar; Wisconsin - Dan and Linda Catherman
Southeastern Equestrian Trail Conference draws Land Managers
July 31 - August 2, 2008, in Charleston, SC "Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow - Providing for Future Equestrians" Join us for the tenth anniversary conference! www.southeasternequestriantrails.com The purpose of the Southeastern Equestrian Trails Conference (SETC) is to bring together people who are concerned about the future of the natural and cultural heritage of the trail experience from the back of a horse. The Conferences include participants from natural resource agencies, non-government organizations, and individuals representing themselves and/or local saddle clubs. This mix of participants is extremely important to the airing of a wide array of perspectives, values, and knowledge.
In July of 2007 the Southeastern Equestrian Trail Conference was held in Knoxville, Tennessee. As in prior years, there was a pre-conference in-field workshop in trail design and trail building conducted by Mike Riter, a well respected consulting trail design-building specialist. His teachings on trail design, grading, drainage, contours, etc. correlate with those seen in “IMBA’s Trail Solutions : IMBA’s Guide to Building Sweet Singletrack”. The equestrian community understands that properly designed and constructed horse trails will be sustainable for many years with minimal maintenance.
The rest of the conference sessions were held at the Crowne Plaza and co-hosted by the Back Country Horsemen of East Tennessee, The Blue Ridge Trail Riders, all in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration/Recreational Trails Program, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture. Additional sponsorships were by the Horsemen’s Councils of Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, the AQHA, The American Southeastern Endurance Rider’s Association, and The Tennessee Walking Horse Association and others. There was a fantastic mix of diversified interests, backgrounds, and experiences and points of views.
Of this years 197 registrants, 51 represented various levels of land manager organizations, such as DNRs from various states, USDA Forest Service, US Park Service, as well as several state forestry and park districts. Mr. Christopher Douwes, the Trails Enhancement Manager for the Federal Highway Administration, was once again an active participant.
At this conference there is always a spirit of cooperation and friendship in what appears to be the development of a better understanding of each other’s problems. The land managers are responsible for an awesome amount of territory, and frequently must do so on very limited budgets. It is their responsibility to maintain and preserve the land, while at the same time creating the best possible use of that land for all land users. This, together with an ever-expanding population and pressures from all directions, indicates that in the near future there will be a continuous shift in emphasis of how that land and trails are used. There is no question in my mind that there will be ever increasing emphasis on designated trails. Our accepting that fact, and with proper cooperation, the equestrian community can work with the land managers and help to designate those trails. By this mechanism, designated trails can become those that are most beneficial to us. Similarly, there will be more and more use of shared trails.
Information about the topics covered and the speakers who have presented at past conferences is available on the SETC website. www.southeasternequestriantrails.com SETC will return to Florida on July 9-11, 2009, Georgia in 2010.
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Updated January 13, 2009