EquusMagazine.com - Full Article
Now more than ever, your help is needed to maintain and preserve the open land and trails that are the backbone of the horse industry.
By Alana Harrison | July 8, 2020
For nearly a decade, Elise Backinger explored the trails of Salida, Colorado, aboard her Quarter Horse gelding, Pep. Salida calls itself the “Gem of the Rockies,” and Backinger’s memories of her rides there are tinged with awe. “There is something deeply profound about the solitude and tranquility you experience riding out in nature. It’s just you, your horse and the land,” she says.
Backinger and her husband have since sold their hay farm and Pep is now a semi-retired therapy horse, but the horsewoman remains grateful for the bond she and her gelding developed on the trail. Their outings, she says, “taught both of us valuable lessons—from encountering unexpected wildlife to negotiating rough terrain to building confidence and endurance.” To ensure that future generations will have the same opportunity to enjoy nature with their horses, Backinger volunteers for the Central Colorado Conservancy, giving presentations on local trails and wildlife areas.
The challenges before trail advocates like Backinger are great. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that 6,000 acres of the country’s open land are lost every day due to the increasing demand for urban and suburban development. And for horsepeople, these statistics can translate into real-world hardships: Open land is the backbone of the equine industry, fundamental to feeding, riding, showing and caring for our horses. If open land continues to be consumed at the current rate, we could start losing the resources we need for our horses in as little as 15 years...
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