BSE ‘s “Share the Road” program envisions improving access and safety of horses on roads, which will benefit recreational riders and drivers, commercial carriage drivers, farmers who must use the roads to access their fields with their horses, and the public at large.
Horsepeople are finding it ever more difficult to access horse trails without utilizing roadways for at least part of the ride. Because equestrians are hesitant to use roadways to access them, such facilities are in danger of becoming lost through reclamation or lack of maintenance or use. In turn, the disuse of trails further discourages riders from venturing out onto the roads, thereby resulting in a reinforcing cycle that causes equestrian resources to recede in the face of development. Yet it is precisely in these developed areas that the majority of the population (who will decide how land and space is used) lives. As equestrians flee, the general population develops an “out of sight, out of mind” position relative to the horses.
For the past century we have waged war against our horses. We have chased them from our cities, distanced them from our homes, banished them from our fields, run them off the road, hunted them with helicopters, and shipped them to slaughterhouses.
At the same time, we have waged war against Mother Earth and against each other. We have uprooted ourselves from the earth and from our history. We have forgotten how to walk in harmony with all living things.
It’s time to start “sharing the road” – literally and metaphorically, as we pave the way to a new and better future for horses, humans and Mother Earth.
By facilitating the presence of horses in developed areas (and on the road), we reconnect the public with horses. There is plenty of room for horses in our society—they have been with us always—but the long-term sustainability of equestrianism requires rethinking horses’ relationship to development to imagine an “urban renewal” of horses. Responsibly reintroducing horses to the roads and to developed areas builds community cooperation in conservation efforts and equestrian issues.
Our “Share the Road” program and events will include educational programs and resources designed to improve access to roadways for equestrian use, emphasizing proper safety when riding or driving in traffic, proper protective gear, and choosing an appropriate travel route. Equestrians should feel empowered to use the public roads, but should do so in a way that is safe for everybody. BSE will, in turn—through PSAs, law enforcement and local agencies—teach motorists how to “Share the Road” with horses. For instance, Massachusetts state law requires motorists to slow to 15 mph around horses, yet few people know this.
Although we are starting local, here in our beloved Palmer, with our October 26 ride, we encourage you all to have your own “Share the Road” events and will be developing online resources to effect a positive change on a local, state and national level.
Years ago, when we first wrote up a proposal for Blue Star Equiculture, we said that "the way forward is sometimes found by looking backward." Let's stop our busy, speeding lives for a moment, allow the horses our society so hastily and mistakenly left behind to catch up and walk by our side, and, in partnership, share life's road together.