Loss of Land for Horse-Related Activities

Deb Balliet, CEO of Equestrian Land Conservation Resource, outlines her organization's programs and how to get involved in conserving land for horse-related activities.

Farmland, forests and open space is being developed into residential and commercial developments at a rate of 6,000 acres per day (USDA figures). We need 36 million acres of land just to feed the 9+ million horses in the United States. Equestrians are losing trail access on public lands. Liability concerns are limiting our ability to ride on others’ private land.

Once it is gone, we cannot get it back.

Where will your grandchildren ride drive, compete, race, raise foals and grow hay?

At the 2008 Kentucky International Equine Summit, David O’Connor, president of the U.S. Equestrian Federation and U.S. eventing gold medalist in the 2000 Olympic Games, acknowledged that the loss of land for horse-related activities was the greatest threat to horse sport, industry and recreation in the United States. Watch David O’Connor’s remarks here.

Only one national organization is devoted to saving land for horses–the Equestrian Land Conservation Resource (ELCR). Our mission is to advance the conservation of land for horse-related activity.

By educating horse people and encouraging partnerships with conservationists and other user groups at the local level, the ELCR is mobilizing thousands of equestrians to work for land access and protection in their communities. We recognize that without such concerted efforts, the horse world, as we know it, is at great risk.

Preserving Our FutureThe ELCR educates horsemen about the crisis and brings them together with conservationists to stem this serious loss. Our many programs include providing information and resources to equestrians on the following topics:

  • Land conservation
  • Community land use planning
  • Trail access, connectivity and shared use
  • Equine economic development
  • Land and trail stewardship management practices
  • Liability issues

Visit our Library of Resources Page for specific information on each topic listed above.

Equestrian Partners Working Together on ConservationThe ELCR’s Equestrian Partners program is a membership program for equine and conservation organizations. Our 120 member organizations representing over 1 million equestrians are actively working on equine land conservation in their communities. The foundation of the Partners program is information, education and networking. Learn more about our Equestrian Partners.

The ELCR’s contributions include:

  • The production of educational materials to assist equestrians in their communities. View our publications.
  • Assisting groups such as the Fort Harrod Back Country Horsemen (KY), Highlands Equestrian Conservancy (MI) and Friends of Callithea Farm (MD) to develop conservation plans to save their horse lands.
  • Connecting land owners with land trusts and other community resource protection programs in order to protect land for horse use and provide financial or other benefits to horse landowners.
  • Partnering with such groups as U.S. Hunter Jumper Association, American Quarter Horse Association, U.S. Pony Clubs, U.S. Eventing Association and Masters of Fox Hounds Association, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, American Farmland Trust and Land Trust Alliance and its members, state horse councils, breed and discipline organizations, trail riders to save riding, driving, racing, training, competing and breeding lands.
  • Providing a centralized source for information, networks and resources about land conservation, land use planning, and trail access.

Get InvolvedPlease join in this vital effort to preserve our hobby, sport and industry. Here is how you can participate:

  • Begin or join a local effort to conserve land for horses in your community. Contact us to find a member group in your area or find out how to start one.
  • Ask your equine organization to become a member of our Equestrian Partners program. Volunteer to serve as the Land Conservation Chair or Coordinator and be the liaison with the ELCR.
  • Make plans to conserve your own farm or join a trail stewardship crew for a day.
  • Participate in your community’s land use planning and zoning process. Provide your comments to the community’s periodic update of its Comprehensive Land Use Plan. Encourage the inclusion of horse friendly provisions in your local or state transportation and recreation plans.
  • Support the ELCR’s efforts to raise awareness of the issue and provide information and guidance to individuals and organizations to conserve your horse lands in your community.

It is time for us to hold our ground as tomorrow may be too late! For more information on what to do in your community, visit www.ELCR.org, visit us on Facebook, or email us at [email protected].

The Equine Network is an Equestrian Partner of ELCR.




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