Letters to the Editor: September 24

Work to share beaches

I AM writing in response to the current concern about horses on local beaches.

No horse rider wants to damage the environment in which they ride. I belong to a group of recreational riders who have enjoyed riding on local beaches for some years. I would be very happy to confine my horse to the wet sand and to ride only out of season when swimmers are not using the beach. In fact, I have never ridden when swimmers are present.

Would an arrangement such as this allow for both swimmers and recreational riders to share the beaches and protect the environment of the dunes and wildlife?

Susan Porzig, Naringal East

Recreational users suffer

I AM very sad that the arrival of large numbers of horse trainers on the beaches is going to ruin a healthy activity for my horse and I. For many years, I have ridden my horse – mostly by myself – at Killarney. I ride between 11am and 3pm, when I usually see no-one. I ride regularly from Monday to Friday and from February to November, avoiding high tourist season and school holidays and weekends. I park in a careful quiet spot. I do not ride over dunes where there are rabbit holes, foxes, snakes and nests, nor in deep sand high on the beach. We are careful and do not ride across the dunes or hoon along the beaches in summer. I ride on the same path used by walkers and dogs.

I usually have the whole area to myself at the hours I ride. I see no more than two to three fisherfolk, two to three tourists and two joggers. Sometimes I am joined by one to two fellow horse club friends. We are covered by insurance.  On wintry days, even at 4pm on a Saturday, I see no-one and I have the whole area to myself. I ride at the water’s edge and leave no damage or litter. The ranger has seen me regularly, knowing I cause no problem to any person or the environment. In February, farmers bring their well-schooled ponies and children for heat relief and fun playing in the water. Often I also do not ride, but lead my horse on the paths into the water and to roll in the sand. For us this is a unique and priceless experience.

There is no reason to ban us recreational users. We could be given permits to use the beach from late March to November, from Monday to Friday and between 10am and 2pm. The trainers need a professional alternative, and their activities should not ban riders like myself.

Julie McErlain, Port Fairy

Proposal is no solution  

I WAS appalled to read (Moyne Gazette, September 22) that the council is considering allowing racehorses to train on our beaches near the Port Fairy Golf Club. You are moving the activity closer to a major holiday resort with more problems that were experienced at Killarney.

Our public beaches should not be used for a commercial activity such as this. The racing industry needs to build their own sand training areas if that is what they require.

Heather Wood, Port Fairy

Code of conduct for riders

LETTERS to the editor and articles published in The Standard have discussed proposed moves to place additional restrictions on the training of racehorses in the Belfast Coastal Reserve. The current controversy  arose out of community concerns regarding the increased numbers of horses being exercised on local beaches by commercial horse trainers and their staff. 

As members of trail riding clubs and individuals, recreational riders regularly use established tracks and  beaches in the Belfast Coastal Reserve. In discussions with the land managers, Parks Victoria, Warrnambool City Council and Moyne Shire Council and environmental groups it was made clear that no complaints have been received regarding recreational riding in the reserve. However, it’s apparent that any bans or additional restrictions on training racehorses in the reserve are likely to impact on recreational riders’ access to one of the few places where we can ride. The recent prohibition of all horse activity at Levy’s Point applies to everyone. This being the case, it is regrettable that no representative of our club has been invited to participate in meetings with the land managers to discuss, and hopefully resolve, issues relating to horse-riding in the reserve.

To address community concerns, including those raised by Belfast Coastal Reserve Action Group, our club has endorsed a general code of conduct for all horse riding in the Belfast Coastal Reserve, we believe   that this code represents a reasonable compromise and should be supported by all interested parties.

Katrina Taylor,  president, Warrnambool Trail Horse Riding Club                                                      

Exercise has benefits​

THE controversial issue of the exercising of horses on the beaches in Warrnambool and district is understandably raising a number of concerns. I believe we need to be mindful of the concerns of all parties involved. Having worked as an equine veterinarian for many years, I can, however, appreciate the advantages of beach exercise for the horses – both physical and mental.

There is little doubt that working on softer surfaces is helpful to maintain the musculoskeletal well-being of horses and can reduce the likelihood of injuries – either new ones or the re-occurrences of older ones.

Exercising horses at the beach also aids the mental well-being of the horses, just as it can for humans. By introducing a novel or changed environment in which to exercise, the mental health of the horses is improved. This is an issue which probably has not been touched on very much in the media. My memories of having ridden my own horse as a teenager regularly along the Lady Bay beach reinforces my view of the mental benefits the beach brings to exercising horses.

In relation to the suggestion of a sand track at the racecourse, this may, depending on logistics, be part of the solution. However, it fails to take into account one of the other advantages of the beach, which is exercising in the sand dunes. Dune exercising allows the horses’ cardiovascular, respiratory and muscular systems to exercise at high capacity without the skeletal system being subjected to the high load impacts normally associated with the high speed exercise that is required to induce anaerobic exercise in the horse.

Obviously with the increased horse movements on the beach we need to strike a balance to protect both the safety of beach goers and to minimise the health and environmental impacts that can occur with excessive horse numbers. Introducing a quota system in regards to beach access of some sort may be one part of the wider solution going forward. 

Dr. Michael McCluskey, Warrnambool

Large field a win for voters

TO HAVE 25 nominees for Warrnambool City Council is a sign of an active and healthy community. Thank you all.

Leaflets dropped in my letterbox and press statements announce courses of action that are commendable and would benefit our town even if their benefit to many of us may seem marginal.

It was refreshing then to read of one proposal that focuses on households. Tricia Blakeslee's call for the introduction of a hard waste collection (The Standard, September 19) holds benefits for all households and neighbourhoods. Residents accumulate items of no value to them that are too heavy or too large to fit their wheelie bins. Here is an opportunity for them to tidy their properties while allowing these items find value through reuse and recycling systems.

May we hear many more proposals from our candidates that focus on households.

Ronald Sinclair, Warrnambool

Bus shelters need attention

I WISH to draw the attention of all potential candidates for Warrnambool City Council elections to an issue which I fear has been mainly overlooked – that being shelters at bus stops around the city.

I raised this subject with councillors a few years ago. One dreadful wintry day when trying to travel to town on the bus, my clothing was drenched in the rain while waiting on the side of the road and out in the open, exposed to the terrible weather, because there was no bus shelter at that stop. I had to actually dry my clothing off with the hand dryer in the Target toilets before I could go shopping. This wasn't the only occasion this occurred.

I received a letter from the council in return explaining how the bus routes were all going to be altered in the next year and there was no point putting in any new bus shelters until after these new bus routes were brought in. Which I thought was fair enough.

However, several years have passed now since those new bus routes came in and not a lot has happened. In fact, what I see now is many bus shelters on the old bus routes sitting idle while new bus stops which have been created don't have shelters at all. The situation might actually be worse than before, with even less shelters now.

Take, for example, Laverock Road bus travellers used to have a bus stop with a shelter in their street. But the bus does not go on that street anymore, so they walk a block to a Morriss Road bus stop and stand in the open because this stop doesn't have a shelter. Meanwhile, the old bus stop has an unused shelter just sitting there. Surely it would make sense to move these idle shelters to where they could be used again. I'm sure many of Warrnambool's bus travellers would agree with me on this issue.

Ideally, there should be shelters at all the bus stops especially if you want to encourage more people to use the buses. Who is going to leave their car at home and stand on the side of the road exposed to all the elements? Bus shelters are important.

Candidates please give this issue some consideration.

Joy Dowlin, Warrnambool

Hard waste plan has merit

I WOULD like to agree wholeheartedly with Trish Blakeslee’s proposal (The Standard, September 19) for a regular hard waste collection program within the City of Warrnambool.

I know Moonee Ponds in Melbourne sometimes has two such collections in a year. Their material no longer required in a household is left on the nature strip of the home on a stipulated day with guidelines presented to homeowners as to what is acceptable and what is not.  It is allowable for other residents to collect items that will find a place in their home.

Anything that is left behind on that day is then collected by the council and suitable items are distributed to worthy causes such as the Red Cross or Salvation Army or disposed of suitably.

This seems to me to be a win-win situation and would help overcome instances such as the recent dumping of a three-piece lounge suite in the Merri River.

Judith Loch, Warrnambool

Examine government costs

I HAVE read that Dan Tehan’s expenses of half a million a year are comparable with other MPs. The thought occurred that we really don't know the cost of government in Australia. If we consider similar costs for all federal MPs and Senators, plus their state and territory counterparts and the officials from more than 900 councils, do we have systems of government that we simply cannot afford? 

If the total costs were known, including whose of the supporting public services, would we be calling for change? For example, less tiers of government, less government involvement in our society, smaller but better targeted public services, activities that Australia needs rather than those that drive career paths for politicians and public servants.

When MPs expenses in one year are the equivalent of the costs of a home that many of us battle for a lifetime to own, and whose same people are superannuated to an extent that many of us can only dream of, is the cost of the governments we have in place actually value for money?

Lawrie Winter, Timboon

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