​​​​​​​BCHA needs your help. Calls to members of Congress are critical this week!

Please everyone this is critical.  Our great trail partners BCHA has put together this very easy to use template for contacting your congressman.  Please do even if you don’t have federal lands in your area.  That once in a lifetime ride you’ve always wanted to do may be affected by this.

Monica Chapman
AERC Trails and Land Management Committee Chair

Take Action: Calls to Congress Needed this Week!

BCHA needs your help. Calls to members of Congress are critical this week!

We have learned that Congress could begin negotiations this week regarding 2018 funding for a number of programs important to horsemen, including the Land and Water Conservation Fund and recreation and trail programs administered by the federal land management agencies. There is much at stake for horsemen and trail users.

Congress has an important role to play in ensuring the agencies receive sufficient funding for the public to continue to enjoy and to access our public lands via trails that are safe, accessible and well-maintained. 

President’s Budget Proposal Would Doom Trails

Yet the President proposed a budget for 2018 that would eliminate most funding for trails and fails to provide even the most basic necessities to support and manage volunteers, like you, who maintain a growing proportion of these trails.

The President’s budget also would cut the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) by 84% compared to the amount approved by Congress for 2017. LWCF has proven crucial to completing the Pacific Crest and the Continental Divide national scenic trails.

Similarly, the President’s budget would cut the trails program of the U.S. Forest Service by 84%. There is little doubt the agency would be forced to make sweeping personnel changes that would leave few staff among local ranger districts to work with volunteers and partners—to say nothing about the complete lack of seasonal trail crews that could be expected next year. Such budget cuts would be disastrous and unprecedented. 

Congress has the Power to Create and Pass its own Budget

The good news is that Congress does not have to follow the President’s proposed budget for 2018. But members of Congress need to hear from you. Otherwise, they just might fall in line behind the President’s budget proposal.

Take Action!

BCHA asks that you call your member of Congress today.

  • Let them know that trails and outdoor recreation are important to you.
  • Ask them to maintain the Land and Water Conservation Fund in 2018, at the minimum, at a level consistent with what Congress approved in 2017.
  • Ask that they support levels of funding that keep agency trail programs intact, as volunteers alone cannot be expected to do it all.
  • Ask that funding for trails reflect the growing importance of trails to the American public, including the outdoor “recreation economy,” which directly supports 7.6 million jobs across the U.S.

To find information, including a phone number, for your representative in Congress click on this link. For contact information for your U.S. senators, click here.

The Facts (and our Strong Opinion!)

BCHA worked with the American Hiking Society, American Trails, and the Partnership for the National Trails System to create a three-page background paper if you're interested in the details of the President’s proposed budget for 2018 and our joint request to Congress. Perhaps it’s more information than you want, but feel free to pass along either or both to your member of Congress if their staff person requests more information. 

To find data on the growing outdoor recreation economy, which includes horseback riding, see a summary of the new study posted on thewebsite of the Outdoor Industry Association.

Hear Back from Your Representative?

If you receive feedback from your member of Congress or their staff, it would be very helpful if you would share their response with BCHA’s director for Public Lands & Recreation. His email address is: WildernessAdvisor@bcha.org

Please share this alert with friends and family. Like we are doing with the hikers and other partners, let's all speak up for trails together! Our future access to public lands depends on it.

Please take action TODAY to preserve access to trails on public lands.

Thank you.  


Freddy Dunn


The good news is that we all could use relief, so we’re offering a Rainy Day Summer Deal.

The post entry fee for the Reciprocity Ride will be eliminated. 

Please come and join us.  We’ve been working hard to get the trails ready for you. 

We are hoping to have our 2017 Cliff Murray/Floyd Fuller recipient present for awarding of her scholarship. 

With Gratitude

The Vermont Horse Council is blessed with many generous volunteers.

Just recently a number of folks from around Vermont, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Canada sent wonderful letters of support to add to our application for a grant to help us complete the installation of permanent corrals at New Discovery Campground at Groton State Forest. Everyone please send good thoughts to the award committee to grant us our requested funds!

Then Doug Smith stepped up - left behind his kitchen renovation project to attend represent the Council at the quarterly meeting of the Vermont Trails and Greenways Council. Watch for a future blog with information about that meeting! Thanks Doug- now back to that kitchen!

And sadly, it is with the deepest appreciation that we offer our gratitude to Terry Rose who recently resigned her position as Secretary. Terry has filled nearly every role there is to fill in the Council. And she filled them all with professionalism, patience, commitment and dedication. "Thank you" does not begin to express the many ways the Vermont Horse Council has benefitted from Terry and her generosity. We wish her all the best in her next adventure.

Meg Costello has been appointed by the Board to fill the remainder of Terry's term. Meg is another dedicated volunteer, having most recently served as the Vice President just two years ago. Meg's contact information can be found on the website, on the About Us page.

If you'd like to volunteer, there are many opportunities to help - just contact a Board member to let us know you are interested!

And don't forget to sign up or donate to the Reciprocity Ride to support our Scholarship Funds!

Happy Trails!

Letters Needed in Support of Groton State Forest

Do You RIde at Groton State Forest? Please let us Know!


We're applying for a grant to complete the installation of new corrals at New Discovery Campground and need 3 letters of support from users of the area.

We need these letters this week so if you are willing, please contact Heidi at hkrantz57@gmail.com or send a letter to that address by Wednesday, July 12.

Still Time to Sign Up for the VHC Reciprocity Ride!

Saturday, July 22, 2017 (rain or shine)
10 am – 3 pm
65 Preston Road, Orange, VT 05641
Come join us for this fun event geared toward youth and the young at heart.

The VHC scholarship committee is hosting a Reciprocity Ride to raise funds for our scholarship accounts. It is specifically geared toward youth as a way to give back to our horse
community. All of the entry ($50) and any additional pledges that participants raise and donate are 100% tax deductible. There will be 6-­‐mile loop and an approximately 12-­‐mile loop to choose from. The trails are wooded and field and for the most part groomed and wide so they are specifically suited for a mentor and youth, novice youth or the young at heart. Our hope is that riders experience the joy of the trails with their equine partner. We hope you will be inspired to raise money for this important mission. Three scholarship funds exist; Cliff Murray and Floyd Fuller Memorial Fund (college), Youth Fund (< 19 years old), and Adult Continuing Education (>19 years old). Detailed descriptions can be found on the VHC website under services/scholarships.

On-­‐line entries are encouraged or printed forms and check can be sent to (checks payable to
Cortni Cleveland, VHC Treasurer
PO Box 574
Hardwick, VT 05843 (802) 472-­‐8448

We will have a staggered start of riders starting at 10 am.

Please note there are 30 rider spots. Entries are on a first come basis. We highly encourage pre entry. If spots are open on the day of the event, entries will be taken at that time ($25 post entry fee applies). Please call the ride manager, Jeannette Cole (802-­‐595-­‐9567) to assure availability if you are post entering.

We will enjoy each others company, but in order to assure all funds are used to support youth scholarships, this is a “no frills” ride. Please bring food and non-­‐alcoholic drink for you and your horse.

Negative Coggins test within 1 year, VHC membership and certified helmet required

Photos from our Membership Meeting June 17th

Ashley and Elliot, senior and schoolmaster from Vermont Technical College's Equine Studies Program rode a Western Dressage Test as a demonstration for the Vermont Horse Council membership meeting at Rough Terrain Farm on June 17. Board member and VTC Equine Studies Director, Jessica Stewart Riley provided commentary to help us understand and enjoy this display of horse partnership. 

Heidi Krantz

Thank you volunteers on the Groton Work Day!

Future equine campers at New Discovery Campground at Groton State Forest will love the new corrals in place thanks to the efforts of more than a dozen volunteers who showed up on Saturday, May 21 to pound in pipe, lug and install corral panels, paint and enjoy lunch and equine conversation! Thanks to Peter Otto, Brenda and Morris Lasell, Mike and Phyllis Civitello, Heidi Krantz,   Steward Hammond, Angelita Guzman, Meg Costello,  Bob DeSorbo, Nancy Boldt, Dick Chase,  Patty Hammond and Chelsea Magnant for their time and talents!

Work on Saturday was made possible because of support from donors, including those who bought tickets for our quilt raffle, and to Sue James who made the quilt...donate to help us finish this project,. $3800 TO GO!


Dear VHC Members,

The Northeast Kingdom Equestrian Trails (NEKET) ride is scheduled for September 8-10 and is open to all VHC members at no additional cost.   Go to https://www.vthorsecouncil.org/neket-ride for general information on the Victory Basin ride.  Similar to past years, this year’s event will offer a combination of camping, informal trail riding and organized rides. Attendees can come as early as September 8th to camp and ride on their own both Thursday and Friday. Saturday will involve organized rides over several trails and a group pot luck in the evening.  Sunday small groups or individuals usually return to favorite locations before breaking camp midday.

Because this ride is open to all VHC members, we wanted to start planning for the ride by offering our impressions of last year’s ride and solicit suggestions and help from folks that participated in the ride or have expressed an interest inVHC trail rides.   Last year was a mixed bag in terms of a successful ride. Looking back, our impressions are:

Attendance was down due to: 

  • Our attempt to charge VHC members a fee for the ride.   Just before the ride the VHC board determined that no charge should be made to members based on historical precedents.  Nevertheless, some were still upset.  There will be no charge for this year’s event. 
  • Folks may be tired of riding the same Kirby and Bog loops (see attached map). We have identified an additional variation for the Kirby Loop andanother that would allow for a shorter version of the Bog Loop.  As soon as things dry up we need volunteers to ride and map these areas. We’ll also have to confirm access and insurance across private parcels.
  • Other than the VHC website there was no publicity about the ride. We should consider posters placed in local gathering spots. 

What other thoughts do you have about how attendance could be improved?  We heard that a poker ride one day may be an attraction.  Also, the gift swap at last year’s Willoughby Ride was a big success. 

Water for horses was a planning and execution nuisance.  One member provided her personal 500 gallon tank. Another member borrowed a trailer, picked up the tank and filled it several towns away. We are looking for a simpler way. Walt, the campsite owner, has indicated we can fill the tank at his place. 

Firewood was not a problem.  Just a few folks bringing wood seems to meet this need.

Sign-in went OK and the presence of a tent created a clear focal point for sign in and announcement.  The wind/rain storm the next day damaged the tent.  We can patch it together enough to work this year but it is clearly on its last legs. We had to scramble for a couple of tables and chairs.  

When we switched from charging members for the ride we asked them to donate to the Scholarship Fund if they felt like it.  We collected $140 for the fund and will probably also ask for donations this year. 

Camping went well. We had one instance of loose horses and everyone seemed to locate their rigs where they wanted.   

 The Saturday pot luck was adequate but not very exciting.  Is adding a gift exchange or preplanning who brings what types of dishes a good idea?

As far as we know, the signs posted on Route 2 and at close-by intersections provided adequate direction on how to get to the camp/ride site. 

In past years a porta john has been placed at the campsite for the period of June- September.  Last year it was placed there only for the week covering the NEKET ride.   The rental is expensive and we received no complaints about it only being available for the ride week.  We propose a ride week -only approach this year.  Any comments? 

Once again we are looking for volunteers to help plan and manage the ride period. Areas where we need help include:

  • Laying out new trails
  • Pre-ride trail maintenance
  • Trail marking
  • Installing signs
  • Providing firewood
  • Organizing the pot luck
  • Rider check-in and checking papers
  • Leading organized rides
  • Camp site cleanup
  • Water

If you have impressions of last year’s ride and comments, suggestions for this year’s ride or any interest in helping contact me at  jim@dapplefield.com or call 802-624-0544. We will be holding a planning meeting in June, date to be determined.

Thank you,
Jim Nickerson


SEPTEMBER 22-24, 2017

Please join us on our annual ride in beautiful Tunbridge Vermont.

This is a two day ride w/plenty of camping at the Tunbridge Fairgrounds. It includes all meals, showers, stalls or paddocks, a silent auction, 50/50 raffle and bonfire.

There are lots of new friendships to be made and old ones to re-kindle.

Saturday night dinner features “Prime Rib” cooked on site with all the fixings to accommodate.

Can’t wait to see you all there.

Check out the VHC website for entry forms and more information.

Any questions, contact Patricia Branon – 802-343-4140.






We are ready to install the next three corrals at New Discovery Campground. Please come and support the Vermont Horse Council’s efforts to improve your riding and camping experience. Many hands make light work – we could utilize the help of 15 people.

WHEN: Saturday, May 20, 2017 (rain date May 21, 2017); 9 am – 4 pm (if you can only stay for a couple of hours that’s okay too).

WHERE: Meet at New Discovery Campground, Groton State Forest, 4239 VT RT 232
Marshfield, VT 05658

WHAT TO BRING: work gloves, a lunch and water

For more information please contact:

Phyllis Civitello
110 Edwards Rd.
Chelsea, VT05038
(802) 685-2275

If you are interested in making a weekend outing of this event, camping is available to people helping on this project (pre season privileges). Please contact Phyllis for reservations and more information about this option.

Learn to Speak HORSE!

Champlain Adaptive Mountain Program (CHAMP) partners with Vermont Horse Council to offer a one-day clinic with horse trainer and equine-assisted learning instructor Sharon Wilsie of Wilsie Way Horsemanship Horse. Join Ms. Wilsie on Sunday May 21 at the Good Hope Farm in South Hero to learn a practical system for “listening“ and “talking” to horses in their language.

Horse Speak can be used by any individual who works with horses. It promises improved understanding of what a horse is trying to tell you, as well as providing simple replies you can use to communicate with your horse.

Champlain Adaptive Mountain Program (CHAMP) partners with Vermont Horse Council to offer a one-day clinic with horse trainer and equine-assisted learning instructor Sharon Wilsie of Wilsie Way Horsemanship Horse. Join Ms. Wilsie on Sunday May 21 at the Good Hope Farm in South Hero to learn a practical system for “listening“ and “talking” to horses in their language.

Horse Speak can be used by any individual who works with horses. It promises improved understanding of what a horse is trying to tell you, as well as providing simple replies you can use to communicate with your horse.

Ms. Wilsie will share a number of exercises to practice regulating your intensity, helping you begin to manage what’s going inside your body as well as outside bringing your communication to a whole new level.

The clinic runs from 10:30 am until 4:30 pm on May 21 and participants can register to audit, or participate with their horse. Registration includes lunch. Proceeds benefit CHAMP equine assisted therapy programs and the Vermont Horse Council.

Details and registration can be found at www.vthorsecouncil.org or email hkrantz57@gmail.com.


Vermont Historical Society to Feature History of the Morgan Horse


Vermont Historical Society to Feature History of the Morgan Horse


A new exhibit about the history of the Morgan horse will open at the Vermont History Museum, operated by the Vermont Historical Society, in Montpelier at the end of April. The exhibit is the first to be shown in their new Local History Gallery after a major renovation of the museum. The Local History Gallery is located within the Freedom & Unity exhibit and was created to spotlight rotating exhibits created by Vermont’s more than 190 local historical societies and museums.

The paintings, photographs, and objects in the temporary Morgan horse exhibit are from the collection of the National Museum of the Morgan Horse, formerly of Middlebury, Vermont. Amy Mincher, director of the National Museum of the Morgan Horse, said, “We are so honored to be asked by the Vermont Historical Society to share some of our collections at the Vermont History Museum in Montpelier. It is a perfect fit, as the Morgan horse is a quintessential part of Vermont’s history.”

The exhibit provides an overview of the history of the Morgan breed, including information about the first horse, Figure, who was born in West Springfield, Massachusetts, but came to live with his owner in Randolph, Vermont in the early 1790s. The Morgan horse became an essential element on New England farms, helping clear land, hay, and drag sleighs through the woods during sugaring season. Visitors to the exhibit will also learn about how Morgans were race horses, important Cavalry mounts in military conflicts from the Civil War to World War I, and became grand show horses, bred and beloved by individuals throughout the country. The exhibit will be on display through August.

Some items from our collection that will be featured in the exhibit.

When can you see the exhibit?
The Vermont History Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday.  It is located in the Pavilion Building (next to the State House) at 109 State Street in Montpelier, VT. Visit their website, www.vermonthistory.org, for more information. All are invited to explore and celebrate the renovated Vermont History Museum for free on Saturday, April 29 from 10:00am to 3:00pmVisitors will be greeted by a lighter, brighter entrance to the museum and the new National Life Gallery featuring the impressive Paul Sample mural, “Salute to Vermont.”

AHC Urges Horse Community to Take Part in USDA Agricultural Census


The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is preparing to conduct its 2017 USDA Census of Agriculture. Horses will be included in the Census.  Every five years, USDA-NASS conducts an agriculture census to determine the number of U.S. farms and ranches and gather vital information about U.S agriculture, including the horse community. The census is a valuable tool to help the USDA determine land use and ownership, livestock populations, operator characteristics, production practices, farm income as well as other important information.

The announcement of the USDA-NASS census comes as the American Horse Council has initiated their 2017 Equine Industry Economic Impact Study. The AHC economic study questionnaire will be finalized this month and begin collecting data in the following weeks. These two separate, yet concurrent studies will provide both the industry and the public with a strong image of the state of the industry in 2017. The AHC strongly encourages everyone who is offered the opportunity to participate in either, or both, of these studies to do so. The economic impact and the census are critical to promoting the horse industry. 

The AHC continues to promote the USDA-NASS census due to the critical need for the horse community to be properly accounted for in the federal governments agricultural findings. The information collected by the Census will be used to develop federal and state agricultural policy for the next five years. It’s vital all farms and ranches with horses participate in the census so the USDA, and the nation at large, has accurate information regarding the size and scope of the horse community.

Farm or ranch owners who participated in the last Census in 2012 will automatically be mailed a survey that can be filled in and mailed back. If a farm or ranch was not part of the 2012 Census or has not received a form in the mail, the owner can go to the USDA’s census website http://www.agcensus.usda.gov and clicking on the ‘Make Sure You Are Counted’ button through June.

According to the USDA guidelines for the Census, a farm is any place from which $1,000 or more of agricultural products, including horses, were produced and sold, or normally would have been sold, during the year.

Further information on the 2017 Census of Agriculture can be found on the USDA’s website http://www.agcensus.usda.gov.