BRAMSHILL FOREST, Hampshire
Permits to ride and dogs
- So what law are we breaking if we continue to ride in there without a permit and can we say that we are heading to the bridleway which we are going to ride up and down all day?
- Lousie Nice talked down to us as if we were naughty schoolchildren. The guy from the Forestry Commission (there were 3 of them) was a bit more unpleasant, rambling on about prosecution and standing in front of my horse
Says Chrissie Wardle
We have recently been stopped whilst riding in Bramshill Forest. I have been riding in there without a permit for about 20 years, my friend even longer. (Prescriptive right).
We normally enter at the Ford Lane end and ride over to St. Neots, sometimes crossing the main Heckfield - Eversley Road, which is very dangerous. They have recently put signs up at ALL entrances saying that if you are riding without a permit then you are trespassing and any insurance you have will be invalid.
This is being enforced by TROT, one of the agents is Louise Nice a BHS Instructor and other people in cars who I believe work for the Forestry Commission.
When I first came to this area I looked on the OS map and a bridleway was shown to run across Bramshill from somewhere near the entrance near Rycroft going at right angles to St. Neots and coming out at the main road where I believe you can cross (known as Sandy Lane).
You cannot access the bridleway from my entrance as the end of Wellhouse Lane is now blocked as someone purchased the house and lands and gated it so our only way to access the bridleway is in fact to ride on the Forest. At the other end we would have to turn round and ride back.
I would not be happy to purchase a permit for the following reasons:
The list is endless.
Considering the BHS have a policy to help keep horses off the (main) roads at the moment I find it very strange that a BHS instructor has been able to represent TROT in the forest and indeed, as I understand it, get a free permit.
Anyway, the signs say that you are trespassing if you do not have a permit. As I understand it you do not need a permit to walk dogs or cycle in there so this is biased against horse riders.
So what law are we breaking if we continue to ride in there without a permit and can we say that we are heading to the bridleway which we are going to ride up and down all day?
Lousie Nice talked down to us as if we were naughty schoolchildren. The guy from the Forestry Commission (there were 3 of them) was a bit more unpleasant, rambling on about prosecution and standing in front of my horse whilst my friend (who had a scarf and riding hat on and said she didn't hear him) rode off in front - in the end I had to say 'Sorry but if that other horse goes out of sight this might throw a loop and trample you.'
Which brings me on to:
I am heading to the BHS site to fill in more details of dogs off the lead. In the past week I have had:
2 separate dogs leaping up at the gates and barking in their gardens on very quiet lanes causing a young pony to shoot sideways;
1 person in a field opposite her house with an uncontrolled dog flying towards me (it normally does this in its garden so is contained and I growl at it but not sure who was more surprised on this occasion - it's on 'white' eg not a bridleway or anything owned by the Duke of Wellington's Estate - I was 'telling' this youngster with my legs that the barking was coming from the garden on the right and not sure why he was bananaing towards the garden when to my horror I realised it was in the field and totally uncontrolled - Julie Bird was calling 'Maggie, Maggie' in a pathetic voice but it took no notice and threatened to jump the ditch - this pony was really scared,
I am hacking it about for a friend to get it used to things, it is very quiet but hasn't seen a lot of life - so I SCREAMED at the dog 'NOOOOOO!' and it changed its' mind and careered back across the field. The other dog, which has hated my other horse since the day the dog arrived, was lurking alongside the hedge in the field, we couldn't see it but the pony knew it was there. There is a footpath in this field but they were not on it - I now see that someone has put some ponies in there so that might stop her exercising her dogs loose as I know she is nervous of horses.
I then have to ride past Charlie in his garden, his owner once told me to 'go round' (the block) if I didn't like his dog barking at me however, we know he's going to be there so can be prepared;
Yesterday I was approaching the ford on Ford Lane, again there is a footpath which goes straight across the field, not around the edge, saw a man with, I thought, 2 dogs on flexileads I was on my own horse this time, 'Good' I thought 'dogs under control'.
As I rounded the bend which can be tricky as cars can't see you (heading towards Bramshill Forest) my mare suddenly rushed forward and I heard shouts - there was a HUGE doge - sort of Mastiff type - running up and down the fenceline trying to get out where they had just come in via the footpath gate. So that one was NOT under control nor was it on the footpath and I would have been in real trouble had it been small enough to get through the gate to me on the road.
These are not isolated incidents but sadly becoming more and more common. I have 6 Jack Russells, I would no more run these loose in a field than fly to the moon!