Says Adrienne Yentis
A friend of mine recently was riding on the heath
and she came across a group of cattle strung out across the bridlepath with no way through – the only way off was to turn round. Fortunately her horse
remained calm throughout. But you can imagine how a nervous horse might react ........... read more
Headley Heath, Hampshire
"Something must be done, before there is a really nasty accident."
Says Marilyn West
I no longer ride on Headley Heath but remember when the National Trust first mentioned they were going to fence off the heath in order to have cattle. Local riders were invited to meet with the National Trust and wardens to discuss this.
I attended this meeting as I had been riding a friend’s 16.3 hh horse on Reigate Hill and experienced how difficult it was to get through these gates safely. The gates swing back so quickly a large horse does not have time to get through. There comes a point when you have to let go of the gate handle and the gate often swung back catching the horse on the heels. The same applied if you dismount you can only hold the gate open until you cannot hold it any longer and it would crashing back on to the horses heels. The horse I rode, being a nervous horse anyway, soon became upset when approaching the gates. Also to ride up near enough to the gate the horse has to put its head over it so the rider can reach the handle and quite a few times her martingale got caught in the gate handle, which was very frightening for both of us. This could have been very dangerous causing serious injury to the horse’s mouth.
I therefore was keen to attend this meeting and put my points over. I suggested that they should be full size five barred gates where the horse can stand sideways to the gate and then does a turn on the forehand to come to the other side so you can then close it. This was totally ignored by the National Trust who said they would go round all the yards to get riders opinion – this never happened. Another suggestion was to just fence off the inside of the main bridle path that goes round the heath – we were told that it was a legal requirement that they had to fence off all the Heath.
I am so glad I no longer need to ride on the heath, but I am concerned that other riders struggle to get their mounts safely through these gates. It is forcing riders to go on to our fast and busy road and too many riders and/or their horses have been killed. I have lived in Ashurst Drive for forty years and have seen the decline in the amount of horses using our road for access to the heath.
There is also the point on how much it cost the National Trust (there are 5 gates from the Ashurst Drive Car Park down passed Bellasis and the High Ashurst site, let alone the fencing just for a dozen or so cows. My husband always maintained that they were trying to stop people using the heath. The cattle also cause dog walkers to have problems, I met a lady who had to retrace her footsteps as the cattle were standing by the gate and she could not get through.
Something must be done, before there is a really nasty accident.
Says Linda Wright
We moved to a Shropshire location a year ago having surveyed the local OS map and noted the significant number of bridleways around the property. Sadly the map appears a total fiction. Scarce any of the bridleways are usable ........... read more