Horseback riders were granted an extra gift this year, when we were able to ride in the Copeland Forest all through the fall and almost up until Christmas, due to the lack of snow (with the exception of a couple of snowfalls that melted quickly).
However, did you know that there is an old guideline from the Ministry of Natural Resources stating the horses should not be in the forest from October 1st to May 1st? Thankfully, this rule is really not on the books any longer.
I’ve often felt this old guideline was unfair as it penalizes one of the seven user groups, quite severely – cutting the time we can be in the forest from twelve months to five months. Not only that, but it restricts our time in the forest during the best riding time of all – fall. There are few bugs, it is usually a very pleasant temperature for both the rider and the horse, and the leaves are spectacular!
I believe the rule was there to protect the groomed trails during the cross-country skiing season. The guideline has chosen the earliest possible snow date (October 1st) and the last reasonable date that snow would be on the ground (May 1st) . Horseshoe Valley ski resort has an agreement with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forests to groom certain double-track trails for cross-country skiing. Obviously, horse prints cause ruts that ruin the grooming.
Despite the extended time we were able to ride in the forest this year (due to lack of snow), one rider yet again ruined it for us, by going into the forest once the skiing season had begun, and riding on the groomed trails. This reflects badly on all of the horseback riders because it is very ignorant! Once significant snow is on the ground, stay out of the Copeland Forest!
This is the second time in a few years that I have heard of riders ruining groomed trails. If it continues to happen, you can bet that the old guidelines might be enforced and all riders will pay the price. Please do not let this happen.
Copeland Forest Friends Association Board Representative for Horseback Riders