Drivers tearing up riders' only trail

EMMA JAMES
Last updated 08:58 13/08/2014

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Taranaki equestrians are upset at 4WD owners tearing up their bridle trail.

Drivers of the vehicles have gone so far as cutting New Plymouth District Council padlocks off the gates and replacing them with their own to access the area.

Taranaki Equestrian Network (TEN) member Allie Black said there had been a lot of reaction to the damage at the Lake Mangamahoe trail because it was the only public adult riding space.

"We're protective of it, we don't have anywhere else," she said.

"Maybe 4WD drivers should have somewhere to go too."

Council parks manager Mark Bruhn said the unlawful damage was an ongoing issue and the council was installing cameras in the area.

"No one from any 4WD groups has come looking for a place to go, but there is no suitable land at the moment," he said.

The area being damaged is part of the track equestrians and mountain bikers share and where work is being done to improve the linkage between Lake Mangamahoe and the Meeting of the Waters.

Last year TEN fundraised to get a new water tank, upgrade the track and put in a covered yard.

"Mountain bikers invest in their track and equestrians in theirs," Bruhn said.

Black said that instead of just creating new bridle trails for horse riders, they should be able to share existing tracks or be included when new tracks are built.

"When they build a new trail for bikes and walkers, make it for horses too."

Local horse owner Leah McLean said the bridle trail was so popular that sometimes there was no room for riders to park their horse floats in the car park.

She said the lack of bridle trails forced them to ride on the road, which was more dangerous.

Bruhn said the issue of needing more horse trails had been discussed before but it was not as easy as it sounded due to lack of land.

"There have been upgrades to existing tracks but there still needs to be a safe place for horses to enter and exit the track."

He said the NPDC already leased land to pony clubs throughout Taranaki and would continue to work with TEN about trails able to be used by equestrians.

Emma James is a Witt journalism student

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