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American Horse Council Supports Broader Opportunities For Disabled Riders

WASHINGTON, DC October 18, 2007 –The American Horse Council (AHC) has submitted comments to the nation’s Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board supporting broader outdoor recreational and trail access for America’s disabled riders. The AHC’s comments are in response to proposed rules on the accessibility guidelines for outdoor developed areas designed, constructed or altered by Federal agencies subject to the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) of 1968.

In the comments, the AHC stated, “When one considers that most wheelchair bound individuals travel only a few hundred feet on trails while horse riders with impairments can travel ten to twenty miles or more at a time, it is clear that not mentioning equestrians and horses in the proposed rule in connection with access is an oversight.” The AHC firmly recognizes the necessity of preserving existing equine access to America’s trails and to further maintaining access to these trail systems for the disabled.

Jay Hickey, President of the AHC further noted the enduring value of the horse in providing freedom of impairment for disabled Americans, “The horse is by far the most common and most environmentally friendly means of access to trails for physically challenged individuals. In fact, when on a horse, most physically impaired individuals, whether wheel-chair bound or not, are indistinguishable from others and enjoy the same degree of mobility as their less physically-challenged companions … the vital role of the horse in providing access to trails and back country for large numbers of physically impaired Americans is undeniable.”

The AHC further stressed the importance of providing better trails, trail heads for horses, access routes, mounting blocks and handicapped accessible ramps, adequate picnic and camping facilities, rest rooms and stables that accommodate the special needs of therapeutic riding programs.

The AHC has advocated over the years the importance of therapeutic riding as a way to create and enhance freedom of movement and outdoor accessibility for disabled Americans. Recently, many therapeutic riding programs have begun to work with disabled veterans from the Iraq War in order to teach them how to ride. Riding provides all Americans, particularly those with disabilities, with a link to the outdoors, to nature and to the beauty and rich tradition of the American trails system.

The AHC concluded its comments to the Board by saying, “This opportunity must be recognized and protected for all Americans in these rules, particularly disabled Americans.”

For more information about the American Horse Council, please visit: http://www.horsecouncil.org or call 202-296-4031.

As the national association representing all segments of the horse industry in Washington, D.C., the American Horse Council works daily to represent equine interests and opportunities. Organized in 1969, the AHC promotes and protects the industry by communicating with Congress, federal agencies, the media and the industry on behalf of all horse related interests each and every day.

The AHC is member supported by individuals and organizations representing virtually every facet of the horse world from owners, breeders, veterinarians, farriers, breed registries and horsemen's associations to horse shows, race tracks, rodeos, commercial suppliers and state horse councils. Visit the AHC online: http://www.horsecouncil.org


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