Saddled up, nowhere to go
There are a few long faces in the South Waikato equestrian scene because there is nowhere to go for a casual ride.
Alice Hicks from Putaruru says the region should capitalise on the huge number of riders in the area and it was too good of an opportunity to miss.
Hicks has been riding all her life. She says that while the South Waikato offers an abundance of cycling and walking trails there is little to cater for horse riders.
‘‘On the Facebook pages I belong to, just for trekking there are over 1000 horse riders within an hour’s scoot of Putaruru,’’ she said.
‘‘That’s a huge number and it would be nice in the huge area between Tokoroa and Putaruru to have a trail to ride on.’’
‘‘Horse riders put a lot of money into horse feed merchants, saddleries, diesel, vehicles, floats and other businesses. It has got such a flow on effect so from the district’s point of view I think it could be huge economically.’’
‘‘I love hearing about all the positive stuff that the South Waikato District Council is going to be doing in Putaruru and Tokoroa, it’s wonderful and I just see this as part of selling the South Waikato package.’’
‘‘There is a real need and interest here and the council needs to realise that and jump at the opportunity,’’ she said.
Hicks, who moved to Putaruru in 2016, said she has to travel to Rotorua or Raglan to ride.
‘‘I can go to Tar Hill because I have a permit but apart from that there is nowhere else to ride here,’’ she said.
She encouraged fellow equestrians to get their voices heard as part of the council’s Long Term Plan process.
‘‘Horses riders are like this secret society, we have a language of our own and talk about stuff that other people don’t understand but let’s sell it,’’ she said.
‘‘Mark Todd started off riding around a farm and having access to places to ride so at the end of the day who knows, a kid being led on a lead rein through a forest could go onto win an Olympic medal one day.’’
South Waikato mayor Jenny Shattock said the council would consider how to cater for riders.
‘‘We are doing long term planning at the moment and so we can certainly take note of it and talk about it through there,’’ she said.
‘‘I can not guarantee anything but we will look at it.’’