What will happen if we don't do anything?
Maybe you just moved here. Things seem pretty good. You're planning a barn, shopping for your first horse. You've heard there are trails nearby, and you've seen people riding alongside the roads. You think you've found the perfect place to live - close enough to work, far enough out to finally have horses of your own.
Both are true, but not entirely.
Two points to consider:..
First, our neighborhood has been changing rapidly, in some very horse-unfriendly ways. Boarding and training facilities have turned into city housing developments. Privately built sidewalks have sprouted up, road shoulders have been paved over. New homes have been built, with landscaping right to the edge of the pavement. Those "trails in the hills" everyone has heard of actually are on private land. Although the Dehesa/Sloane Canyon/Willow Glen area is only about a mile away, there is no legal trail access for us to get there. The situation is similar in riding to Crest and Lakeside. Many newer residents do not understand the rules of the road around horses and livestock, and there have been wrecks, injuries, and many close calls.
Second, we can reverse this trend and re-establish Granite Hills as a prime equestrian neighborhood - a rare and valuable find in our area. Horse ownership is growing, nationally, and here as well. More adults are starting out as beginners, or returning to riding now that they have more time for themselves. Even those who do not wish to own horses or ride can benefit - some enjoy the rural atmosphere, seeing horses and riders - but all will benefit from the increase in property values as Granite Hills becomes an ever more precious and desireable resource.
If we do nothing...
If we ignore encroachements into the road right-of-way, and continue to allow people to build and plant on the road shoulder, we will find ourselves riding in the road, on the pavement. This is unhealthy for horses, and dangerous to riders and drivers alike. We will also find that walkers and runners are forced onto the road. As our population ages, exercise is more and more important. Allowing our road shoulders to be taken for private use will make Granite Hills a less pleasant and active place to live.
If we do not work toward having a public riding ring, there will be no off-street place to ride - no place to practice for shows, or just to learn to ride well enough to venture out. In communities where there is a public ring, many are able to participate in riding simply because they have a place to practice, work-out, and learn. Where there are no public facilities - no rings, horse parks, or trails - only the most fortunate are able to have horses, those who have enough available flat land for a ring of their own. Imagine if there were no public baseball or soccer fields - how many kids could possibly afford to learn and play those very land-intensive sports?
If we do not work to educate our fellow users of the road about how to drive safely around animals we will have more accidents, more animosity, and more fear of walking and riding in our own neighborhood. Talk to your neighbors, talk to new residents when you welcome them, talk to drivers you see along the roads. And be sure to wave and thank the many drivers who are courteous and careful.
If we do not work for public non-motorized recreational trails we will find ourselves permanently land-locked. We have a short-lived window of opportunity before us when we still have the chance acquire public trails connecting us with surrounding communities. Imagine if there were no roads into or out of Granite Hills? That is currently our situation with trails. As recreational trails are becoming a more recognized and in-demand feature of any community, we are in danger of being permanently left without any. The next months and years are critical. We need to work with our Planning Group and the County to be sure that any surrounding developments (and there are large developments in the works right now) include adequate trails for riders, hikers, and mountain bikers - just as they will include roads for vehicles.
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