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Says Naomi Smith

Says Naomi SmithIt is all too possible to round a corner on horseback and come upon a group of cattle with no prior warning -this WILL result in a horse being badly spooked at best, bolting at worst -it is only a matter of time ........... read more

How they do it in the USA

"Share the Road: Horses Paved the Way"

People in the modern world rely less on horses to get around, but that doesn't mean you'll never see one in traffic.

If you do, you have some responsibilities.

Riders from the Pioneer Valley joined a statewide event to raise awareness of traffic laws surrounding the use of horses. "Share the Road: Horses Paved the Way" is in its fifth year, with a contingent riding from Holyoke, through Chicopee and into the North End of Springfield.

Jose Rubero, executive director of the Latino Chamber of Commerce, donned a hat and boots for the occasion.

"(The law) states that the roads are paved for travelers, their horses and vehicles, in that order," he said, referring to Massachusetts General Law Chapters 84 and 90.

An equestrian is the only civilian legally allowed to order a car to stop, said Rubero, and can even tell a driver to shut off their engine if there's a safety concern like a spooked horse.

"We can signal all cars to stop. They have to shut off their vehicles until we say it's safe to go. Even a cop," he said.

Rubero said that, on Saturday, drivers along the route were cautious and respectful. Some pulled over to take photos of the less-than-common sight.

The traditional ride was started by Blue Star Equiculture and the Granby Regional Horse Council.

"This campaign is a simple reminder of laws that already exist protecting our working horses and private equestrians on the public roadways," organizers said in a news release. "These laws are in practically every city and town and village in America. This is not a campaign to create new laws and regulations but to simply remind our communities to please obey the laws that exist."

Rubero and his group were riding Paso Finos, a breed of horse that originates in Puerto Rico. Paso Finos are renowned show horses, so they are used to chaotic situations, loud noises and sudden commotion, making them a safe choice for the rider and the travelling public.

"None of the horses that we ride in the streets are going to get frightened by a sudden honking horn, a sudden air brake from a tractor trailer," said Rubero. "They are parade-ready. It's bred for that."

The ride on a Paso Fino is smooth. Puerto Ricans, said Rubero, can ride from one end of the island to the other without trouble, and it's easy to eat and drink during the trip.

"Most of the people riding horses here in Western Mass. are just riding in the woods," he said, but enthusiasts could also start businesses in the cities, providing carriage rides and the like. Horses are good therapeutic tools for autistic children and people with certain emotional disorders like PTSD.

"We want people to be involved, or accept it, at least," said another rider, Carlos Rivera of Springfield. "It helps people go slower, if you think about it."

Rivera recalled a time when he was stopped by a police officer, who had to check if it was legal to ride a horse in the street. He sees the "Share the Road" event as a way to educate everyone, even law enforcement.

Rivera and Omar Morales, 12, of Springfield, stable their horses in Monson and ride in the city several times a month. Morales said he grew up around horses, and this is part of their culture. There's an open invitation for other riders to join them on their journeys.

"We're trying to get more people to ride horses so there will be a bigger group," said Morales.

The event is held every year on the second Saturday in June. Organizers said the city of Holyoke has approved "Share the Road" signage throughout the city, and a formal announcement is coming soon.

Says Linda Wright

Says Linda WrightWe 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

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