Letters: 05/99

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Hooray For Reply
Hooray for your reply to Triple Crown Nutrition (March ’99). I have a senior horse that has a hard time keeping weight on. I have tried nearly every senior feed (he has no chewing difficulties). He won’t eat them! Until a company comes up with a feed that he’ll eat, I’ll continue to supplement separately and have had wonderful response with Ration Plus.

I have had much contact with feed companies since your article. Many of them responded with enthusiasm that anyone was actually asking any questions, while some of them were like pulling teeth trying to get the information. Hopefully I was not the only one inspired by your article.

-Paula Vervaet
Internet

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Horses Banned On Massachusetts Trails
Thank you for the February article on the loss of horse trails. The loss of open space is an important issue. However, your article mistakenly focuses on lands owned by the Audubon Society when that organization’s policies on horses changed. The main cause of loss of open space is not due to policy changes with groups like Audubon, who work tirelessly to preserve open space, but due to development.

Whether or not Audubon’s decision to close its lands to horses is correct is not the issue. Rather, what are equestrians doing to work with organizations like Audubon, local land trusts, or the Equestrian Land Conservation Resource to protect open space'

I must also take issue with Mary Alexander when she states that, while Audubon properties are private, because they are tax-exempt the organization is obligated to keep the trails open. Organizations are tax-exempt status because they do give back to the communities.

Members steward properties — maintenance of trails and liability insurance, for example, can be quite costly — the expense of which does not fall on the general public. Moreover, these lands are a minimal burden on communities because they do not require the support of schools, roads and other infrastructure that residential development requires. Organizations that keep lands open have an obligation to steward them in a manner that is consistent with their purposes, and it may be that certain lands are not suitable to horses due to erosion and wildlife concerns.

There are many things we can do to conserve open space — join your local land trust, join the Equestrian Land Conservation Resource or get active on your local planning board to work for better planned development. We equestrians concerned with the loss of horse trails should not expect these areas to be there for us without any contributions on our part. Rather, we need to direct our energies to working with other conservation-oriented groups to devise means to save open space and allow for horse trails where appropriate.

-Helene G. Goldberger
Albany County Land Conservancy Board
Berne, NY

We completely agree. But we deliberately chose not to try to tackle the gangling, complicated subject of urban sprawl and land use. Our objective in citing the instance of the MASOOI-Massachusetts Audobon situation was to draw our readers’ attention to one of many such conflicts that are occurring and will occur with increasing frequency. We are not taking sides as to which party may be “right.” But we agree philosophically with MASOOI that if we equestrians don’t take action to preserve open space for riding, someday we will wake up and find it is too late.

The Equestrian Land Conservation Resource new address is: 1776 Massachusetts Avenue NW #500, Washington, DC 20036, 202/872-8790.