Plan for horses on beaches ‘overkill’

Cheryl Mangan (left) and Eli Cumming ride past Keyhole Rock at Aramoana yesterday, as the Dunedin City Council considers new rules for horses on the city’s beaches. Photos by Peter McIntosh.
Cheryl Mangan (left) and Eli Cumming ride past Keyhole Rock at Aramoana yesterday, as the Dunedin City Council considers new rules for horses on the city’s beaches. Photos by Peter McIntosh.
Nostrils are flaring as the Dunedin City Council faces a backlash over tougher new rules for horses on the city’s beaches.

Hare Hill Horse Treks owner Oliver Goldsmith.
Hare Hill Horse Treks owner Oliver Goldsmith.

The proposal would restrict horses to thin strips of sand between dunes and high-water marks at four beaches where the animals were permitted to run.

The idea has triggered an outcry from riders, as trainers warned of injuries to their animals while one horse trek business owner feared it could spell the end of his venture.

The changes were included in the council’s reserves and beaches bylaw, which would remain the subject of public consultation until Friday.

It would continue to permit horses on Tomahawk, Smaills, Waikouaiti and Island Park beaches, but remove permission for them to be ridden below the high-tide mark.

That annoyed Dunedin horse trainer Graeme Anderson, who said ‘‘hundreds and hundreds’’ of horse owners would be affected.

He has trained horses on Westwood and Ocean View beaches for 12 years, and said people and horses had coexisted on the city’s beaches for a century without incident.

The council’s new approach appeared to be ‘‘overkill’’.

‘‘It’s obviously been written by someone who’s never had a horse in their life or never walked through deep sand,’’ he said.

Dunedin rider Jenna Mason said horses risked injury if ridden in softer sand further up the beach.

The flat sand near the water was good for horses’ training and recovery, and Ocean View’s good parking, beach access and wide open spaces made it a popular spot for riders.

‘‘It’s definitely something we don’t want to lose.’’

Sand dunes needed protection, but that could be resolved as part of a ‘‘compromise’’, she said.

Oliver Goldsmith, of Deborah Bay, said the changes threatened his business, Hare Hill Horse Treks, which offered rides including a trip along Aramoana.

He took steps, including limiting trips to two horses and cleaning up after the animals, to minimise any environmental impact, and supported the bylaw’s aim of controlling drones and protecting wildlife.

However, council staff seemed to have ‘‘no idea’’ about the impact of the changes on riders.

‘‘Basically, in effect, that means horses are banned on beaches,’’ he said.

Council staff would not be interviewed yesterday, but in written responses to questions stressed the need to protect dune systems.

Acting parks and recreation group manager Tom Dyer said

the council was aware of concerns about injuries to horses and would ‘‘assess the options’’ once submissions were in.

Asked about Mr Goldsmith’s concerns, Mr Dyer said the council welcomed submissions from affected parties.

chris.morris@odt.co.nz

Comments

What's next? Banning hamsters from the beach? ha ha come on DCC get real!

Not a horse person but the council IMO abuses its powers. That sums up the DCC as a whole on everything. 'It’s obviously been written by someone who’s never had a horse in their life or never walked through deep sand,'

Question I'd ask 1. Why the sudden change, 2. How many incidents has there been in the last 10 years of horses causing damage to the beaches or others using the beach 3. what experience with horses has the person who drafted these rules.

Its sad that an old tradition like horses on Waikouaiti beach will stop. It's a symptom of societies banning culture. Hopefully horse riders will stand up for themselves.

 

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