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Back Country Horsemen of America Represents You, Too

Many of us dream of taking our horses out on wide expanses of untouched land, but the reality is that some of us reside in urban and city areas. Depending on where you live, “back country” might be a 50 acre town recreational area or an old railroad bed.

These front country lands are the only safe places some equestrians have to get their horses out of the arena and to experience a taste of traveling by horseback. Back Country Horsemen of America believes that every trail used by horses is valuable and worthy of the effort of maintenance and preservation.

Greensfelder County Park

Just 33 miles outside St. Louis, Missouri, at the foothills of the gently rolling Ozark mountain range, Greensfelder County Park features lovely shaded trails and spectacular views. Its 1,583 acres has five miles of well-maintained trails that range from gentle to steep, as well as horse boarding and horse camping. This is a safe place for riders to take their horses, especially during hunting season.

This land experiences heavy hiking and mountain biking use in addition to horses. But that’s not a problem thanks to a collaboration among the local user groups. They’ve formulated a Share the Trails Program, which makes all trails open to everyone throughout the park, excluding motorized vehicles. Signs and brochures educate people on proper etiquette when they come upon other trail users.

Greensfelder County Park trails are maintained by Show Me Missouri Back Country Horsemen (SMMBCH) in conjunction with the Wildwood Horse Owners and Acreage Association. Formed by local trail riders in 2002, SMMBCH maintains public lands for horse use both large and small across the state, works with public land managers and other land users to minimize our impact, and is actively involved in trail maintenance and planning.

A.J. Jolly County Park

Located just three miles outside of the busy Alexandria, Kentucky, city limits, A.J. Jolly County Park encompasses 900 acres of mature forests, deep ravines, creeks, and a 200-acre lake. Its eight miles of equestrian trails are mostly double wide and vary from gently sloping to hilly to very steep and physically challenging for horses. Because other users here don’t want multi-use trails, there are separate trails for horses.

This front country land is maintained by a group of horsemen in the process of fulfilling the requirements of a BCHA affiliate, who will be called Northern Kentucky Back Country Horsemen. Their latest project includes cutting new trails on 96 acres just added to A.J. Jolly County Park. They plan to finish the perimeter trail before the park opens seasonally in the spring, which will add over five miles of equestrian trails. Future plans include loop trails within the perimeter trail and a horse campground.

About three years ago, the Fiscal Court (the body that manages the park) was intending to close it permanently because no one came forward to maintain the trails. These local horse owners requested that the park remain open and spent countless hours fixing and cleaning the existing trails. Through this effort and their continuing trail work, they have succeeded in preserving A.J. Jolly County Park as a trail riding site.

This Land is Your Land

Back Country Horsemen of America knows that keeping trails open to horse use is dependent on dedicated individuals and groups who see horses as a vital part of the heritage of the United States. They share the vision of BCHA: horse users across the nation enjoying their horses and the land, regardless of how small and urban that front country might be.

What is back country to you? Where did you ride horses when you were young? Where do you ride now? Will you be able to ride there in 10 or 20 years, or will that opportunity be lost? If you want to learn more about how you can preserve those public lands for horse use in the future, contact BCHA.

About Back Country Horsemen of America

BCHA is a non-profit corporation made up of state organizations, affiliates, and at large members. Their efforts have brought about positive changes in regards to the use of horses and stock in the wilderness and public lands.

If you want to know more about Back Country Horsemen of America or become a member, visit their website: http://www.backcountryhorse.com, call 888-893-5161, or write PO Box 1367, Graham, WA 98338-1367. The future of horse use on public lands is in our hands!

 

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