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Fanatics Taking Action,
by Garry Stauber

Protesting has long been a part of the American way of life. Issues such as Civil Rights and the war in Vietnam sparked famous protest movements that impacted and improved America. Those who stand up and speak out for what they believe to be right are often singled out as "fanatics" or "nuts." But fanatics in our past have bettered our way of life in the present. Our country was founded by protesters.  Remember the Boston Tea Party? Now we relate that bold protest to our modern-day freedom. It’s about “Taking Action” in what you believe to be right.

Two stories of people taking action caught my attention this week.  One involves a horse trainer and riding  instructor in North Carolina. The other is much closer to home and takes place in Morro Bay, California.

Illustration by Jessica Young

In Carolina Beach, North Carolina, a man actually wants to get tickets or citations. It appears that Carolina Beach has an ordinance against riding a horse in town. Chris Lutterloah challenges that law on a regular basis. When he appears for court proceedings, Chris rides his horse into town and ties it to the courthouse pillars. He calls the local police and tells them when he is riding into town. Sometimes they meet him and sometimes they don’t. He has been cited over 10 times for riding his horse in town and has won all but one case. He admits he messed up on that one and rode his horse on the beach. But Chris states, “Riding a horse is a God-given right that I’m not giving up easily.”

Mr. Lutterloah  has been taking on his town officials since 1997. He currently has two cases pending. Recently the local mayor asked to meet with him to settle this thing. Chris said, “Okay, I’ll ride to town.” But the mayor opted for coming out to Chris’ ranch instead, for obvious reasons.  Chris said, “We just couldn’t come to an agreement that day.”

Once he rode his horse to town to challenge the City Council at an open meeting. But he was arrested and released three hours later after, the meeting was adjourned. He said, “Within reason a man should be able to ride his horse anywhere it is safe. I’ll keep this up till we get our rights back.  People have sat back and gotten too lazy to fight for our rights these days.”

In Morrow Bay, on the central California coast, the Park Services recently closed several  of the more popular trails in Monta-a de Oro and Morro Bay State Parks. John Krueger, President of the Coast Mounted Assistance organization, a volunteer horseback patrol group at Monta-a de Oro with 50 members, jumped into action. Instead of just allowing the changes in the parks to happen quietly, he and his group mounted a signature gathering campaign. John  put the word out to other groups like the California Equestrian Trails & Land Coalition and Equestrian Trails, Inc., who joined in this battle.  Both organizations are designed to assist in issues regarding the loss of equestrian trail access. “What really surprised me was how this galvanized our equestrian community and so many gathered to assist us in our fight,”  stated Krueger.

Under Krueger’s leadership, Coast Mounted Assistance gathered over 2,000 signatures, attended meetings and lobbied Ranger Management to return the trails to equestrian usage. On May 11 they received an email from the Superintendent of Regional Parks, Nick Franco, with a standing order re-opening all of the closed trails. After receiving the news John said he was very pleased and at peace, happy that this was not going to be a wedge between equestrians and state park management. “Our intention was to bring light to an injustice,” said Krueger. “What we want is open dialogue and participation by representatives of all user groups of the parks."

Land and trail restrictions in the U.S. will only increase in upcoming years. Environmental policies and lack of funding will surely affect other trail closures if we do not build relationships and have dialogue with park officials. Getting involved and taking action is important now more than ever. We may be called nuts and fanatics, but that is probably obvious already . . . We ride horses, don’t we?

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Copyright Garry Stauber © 2004  All rights reserved. The above article is the property of the Author and may not be duplicated or redistributed in any way without permission. Visit Garry on-line at Dream Adventures.   


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