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Call for better rural horse riding trails across Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 13:32 24 April 2017

Sue Barber, owner of The Pine Lodge School of Classical Equitation at Stoke Holy Cross. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Sue Barber, owner of The Pine Lodge School of Classical Equitation at Stoke Holy Cross. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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A riding centre owner is calling for increased protection of countryside tracks because of speeding traffic forcing horse riders off country roads.

The message comes as a nationwide online survey of 202 riding clubs and bridleway groups revealed major concerns from horse owners who use off-road routes known as Byways Open to All Traffic and Unsealed Unclassified County Roads.

These so-called green lanes are being increasingly used by recreational 4x4 drivers and motorbike riders, known as off-roading, which makes the trails dangerous for horses because of surface damage and risk of collisions.

Sue Barber, owner of Pine Lodge School of Classical Equitation on Pine Loke, Stoke Holy Cross, said: “Off-roading is huge problem waiting to happen - there are going to be accidents, without a doubt.

“The problem is going to get worse rather than better because of increased building work which stops horses being able to go out on country roads. There are also not enough bridle paths.

“The days of horses being able to use the roads are gone so given that, it is important to be able to ride off-road.”

She added the increase in house building meant more people which added to traffic on the county’s roads.

Speeding traffic was also a major concern for horse riders and equestrian centre members, according to the equestrian centre owner, who warned horses had a mind of their own.

Mrs Barber added the problem of off-roading was more prevalent in forests and the ideal situation would be for designated rural horse riding tracks to be established away from off-roading areas.

The equestrian centre owner said moves were also being made by farmers to allow more horse riders to use parts of their private land.

Peak District-based Peak Horsepower Bridleways Group, carried out the national survey and received responses from five groups in Cambridgeshire, one from Norfolk and two in Suffolk.

The tracks used for off-roading were historically public rights of way for horse-drawn carts and the legal rights of way onto them remain unknown. Across the UK there are 9,000km of these green lanes and in Norfolk and Suffolk they cover 511km and 254km, respectively.

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