These courses not for horses

Dunedin Riding Centre owner Victoria Watt makes one last trip along the banks of the Silver...
Dunedin Riding Centre owner Victoria Watt makes one last trip along the banks of the Silver Stream after the Dunedin City Council sent a letter threatening to fine horse riders who rode in the area. Photo by Jane Dawber.
"We've all been inspired by the Speight's billboards, but I'm afraid the reality is very different for the majority of leisure horse riders on the Taieri," Dunedin Riding Centre owner Victoria Watt says.

"The roads are increasingly busy and unless you are lucky enough to own a farm, there is nowhere safe to ride on the Taieri."

And now the Dunedin City Council has sent Ms Watt a letter saying if she and other Taieri horse lovers continue to ride along the favoured and safe banks of the Silver Stream, they will be fined.

Ms Watt said traditionally, riders had been able to ride along the banks between Wingatui Rd and the sports fields in Mosgiel.

But during the past decade, the usable length had been shortened by housing developments and the Dunedin City Council had introduced bylaws prohibiting people from riding horses there.

She said Taieri residents continued to ride along the banks because the risk of riding on open roadsides was too high and there was nowhere else safe to ride.

The lack of safe riding areas on the Taieri Plain was worrying many riders, particularly after a horse had to be euthanased due to its injuries last weekend when it was spooked by a passing truck on Saddle Hill Rd.

Ms Watt said there were DCC areas at Ocean Grove Beach, Waikouaiti Beach, Island Park Reserve and Ocean View Recreation Reserve where riding was permitted, but nothing on the Taieri.

Unless Taieri horse owners had horse floats, the DCC areas were inaccessible, and the riding community has called for the council to provide a bridle path on the Taieri.

Dunedin City Council Coastal Parks officer Renee Gordon said horses were banned from the Silver Stream because the banks were highly sensitive and horse hooves could cause damage.

"I understand their concerns about riding on the roadside, but they need to find somewhere else to ride."

Ms Gordon suggested riders make a submission to the Mosgiel Taieri Community Board about designating an area on the Taieri specifically for leisure horse riding.


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