Trail or recreational riding has been a core activity for the Vermont Horse Council, but with an aging population, changing land ownership patterns and trail demands from other user groups trail riding is facing some real challenges. Other segments of the equine community face challenges too – cost and availability of insurance, including worker’s compensation, availability of skilled and dedicated employees, taxation issues and more! VHC leadership remains committed to our trail heritage and has been working to be more inclusive and responsive to other segments of the equine community while continuing our efforts to develop and maintain trails in Vermont.

Here are some projects and priorities VHC is working on – you can learn more about all of these on our website, FaceBook page and newsletter and at our next membership meeting on June 17 at Vermont Technical College.

  • Equine Industry summit – our second summit will take place Oct. 25 at Vermont Technical College
  • Equine Industry Impact Study – a top priority from last year’s summit – industry leaders including a veterinarian, trainers, breed organizations, retailers and educators have joined the VHC committee to help guide this important project
  • Forests, Parks and Recreation Cooperative Agreement – this agreement will confirm VHC’s role as the coordinator for all equine-related projects on state lands in Vermont and provide a critical voice representing equestrian uses
  • Participation at Trail Economic Impact Conference and Vermont Trails and Greenways Council – making sure equestrian needs are heard at these important multi-user venues
  • Specific trail projects at Groton, Ascutney, Willoughby and Robinson Springs- VHC continues to work with local users to develop and maintain trail access and quality
  • Membership Recruitment and Growth – in addition to general membership, VHC is committed to growing our relationship with Vermont’s equine businesses through our new business memberships
The Vermont Horse Council describes how best to pass horses when you encounter them on the trail.

As the only state-wide organization representing all equestrians, VHC is well positioned to lead these efforts to elevate and promote equestrian needs and concerns with state agencies, towns and the legislature. Our role in educating and organizing is essential to preserving and establishing trail access, business support and industry recognition.

Many people talk about the growth of mountain bike trails in VT – one reason that activity is so successful is the incredible organization that supports local clubs through a state-wide organization – so there are local “boots on the ground” to build, maintain and monitor local conditions and opportunities. Perhaps we can increase our work with local riding clubs to cooperatively increase equestrian trail opportunities. Perhaps we can host a trail summit, like our Equine Industry Summit to bring equestrians together to identify trail priorities and strengthen our network.

In the coming months, you’ll learn more about these projects and more. VHC needs more members if we are to continue this work. If you ride on trails and are concerned about access to trails on private land, maintenance and competition from other users – get involved – many hands make light work!

—Heidi Krantz