October 2015 Issue - page 1

Vol. 22 No. 10
Our 22nd Year
October 2015
LANC., PA 17604
The Pennsylvania Equine
Council Fall Newsletter …
pgs. 34 & 35
PA man starts therapeutic riding program to
help returning vets …. pg. 4
Local homebred yearling tops the national
Hunter Breeding ranks …. pg. 19
New Bolton saves the eyes—and life--of a
rescued Paint mare … pg. 10
Andy Kocher wins Ludwig’s mini-prix despite
broken rein….pg. 8
... and much more!
Horses and Cars. What Could Go Wrong?
by Suzanne Bush
Since gas seems to get
cheaper by the day, drivers are
finding more and more reasons to
hit the road. And they take a lot of
“baggage” with them, from cell
phones, to navigation devices, to
laptops, iPads, iPods and MP3
players. Everybody wants to get
away; they just don’t want to
leave anything behind! More traf-
fic and more congestion add up to
more anxious drivers trying to get
to their destinations faster. And
when drivers are trying to catch
up on email or Facebook while
driving, their distractions can be
lethal. Distracted drivers are as
dangerous as drunk drivers.
Everyone on the road is a
potential victim of these distrac-
tions; anyone on the road without
the protection of a car or truck is
especially vulnerable. Whether
walking a dog, riding a bike or
riding a horse, the “what ifs” are
daunting. Although cyclists are
somewhat road-bound, eques-
trians generally don’t choose to
ride along the roads. But often,
they need to cross roads in order
to access trail connections. And
the close calls can be downright
“I am not sure what people
are thinking,” Johanna Walters
says. “In the case of distracted
driving, when people finally
see you (if you’re lucky!) they
look like their hearts are in their
throats.” Walters, who is president
of Horseways, an equestrian trail
and land preservation group in
Montgomery County, PA, believes
that young drivers are the worst.
“They have no context and don’t
use good judgment,” she says.
“I’m 49 and I’ve been riding
consistently (except the two years
I was pregnant) since I was 14,”
Joan Light says. She lives in Leba-
non, PA, and doesn’t let very much
keep her off the trails. “Our worst
place is down at Blue Marsh,” she
says. “There are two sections of the
trail we like that we have to cross a
big concrete bridge.” That’s tricky
for horses, even under the best con-
ditions. But Light says that some
people speed up on purpose. “We
have a lot of people who blow their
horns, backfire their trucks, just to
see what happens.”
Light also says that there are
a lot of Amish where she lives,
and they are truly vulnerable,
largely because they don’t have
any choice. They have to use the
roads. Since January, 2015 more
than a dozen accidents involving
Amish buggies have occurred in
Pennsylvania. Children, adults
and horses have been killed. Other
people and animals were severely
injured. The accidents, detailed on
the Mission to Amish People web-
site, had much in common. In one
case, the driver of a car that struck
a buggy didn’t realize how much
slower the buggy was than a car.
In another, a driver tried to pass a
buggy, and clipped a bumper.
Walters says that drivers
just don’t seem to think about
what could happen. “Driving
too fast is often deliberate,
which is quite disturbing. What
if my horse spooks? Would
1200 pounds of horseflesh feel
good slamming into an automo-
Who Owns the Road?
In Pennsylvania, as in virtu-
ally every other state, the people
own the roads. State workers
or county workers or municipal
(Continued on page 27)
Close calls can be nightmarish when distracted drivers and vulnerable horseback riders intersect. Riders report that some drivers
intentionally try to spook horses or speed up on purpose, just to see what happens.
Photo credit: Joan Light
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