The weather has turned. It feels like summer. That means cold beer and steaks on the grill:
It turned out to be pretty awesome--a sweet, rich, superlean, oddly soft meat, closer to beef than venison. I put some slices over a salad of arugula with olive oil and a splash of lemon juice and some caramelized onions. It was like a livelier, lighter braseola.
It's not that I don't think killing horses is cruel. It's just that I think killing chickens, pigs, sheep and cows is equally bad. Morality based on aesthetics is pretty shallow. In fact, the only weird part about eating horse was that, unlike with bacon or rib eye, we kept picturing the animal, which was kind of gross. Nonetheless, until I decide to stop my less-than-noble practice of eating other animals, I've got little choice but to order up some more horse.
I can think of a lot of things to do with a horse. One thing includes a bachelor party in Tijuana. I hear they're good for pulling wagons loaded with shitty beer. Pony rides at the State Fair. How about horse clothing?
One thing horses are NOT good for is the condition of trails in lower Michigan. While mountain bikers have learned over the years how to build and maintain trails on this soil, the sandy consistency of the Earth in these parts makes it easily churned up by horse hooves. Riding or hiking on a trail that gets a lot of horse traffic is like traversing a loose sandy beach. Both hikers and cyclists require a firm trail tread. Sustainable trails for cyclists here means careful trail construction and lots of TLC by countless volunteers throughout the summer months.
Equestrians are doing everything they can to wreak those trails. The latest battle line is Fort Custer, where a very active local chapter of the MMBA maintains 20+ miles of multiuse trail. Equestrians have always had access to the trail network, but two other horse specific trails nearby have kept conflicts with mountain bikers to a minimum. That quickly changed this year when cyclists built a short stretch of new singletrack at Fort Custer. Equestrians are enjoying the new trail so much that it's becoming unrideable for bikes:
Rode the re route on the Green loop yesterday and was troubled by the damage caused by horses riding the steep drop portions and caving parts of it in. Why do they feel that they have the right to ruin trails that were put in by mountain bikers for mountain biking? They have plenty of other areas that are not so sensitive to ride at the Fort but they insist on riding the most technical areas of the trails and damaging them severly with their 2000# rototillers. Met another rider who crashed on the damaged area and destroyed a expensive front wheel due to the horse riders lack of common sense. I'm also getting tired of having horse crap flung onto my water bottles and clothes. What about parade bags? Do we crap on their yards and driveways?
No, we don't crap in their yards. In fact, I don't even let my dog crap in the yard. I walk my dog twice a day and carry a pooper scooper every time. Steaming piles of excrement are something best not left in yards, on sidewalks or even on trails at the park. Hell, is wrong (and against local laws) to leave dog poo in the park, but it's just fine to drop hundreds of pounds of horse crap?
What's really got every one spooked isn't the destruction of trails at Fort Custer, it's a broader effort by equestrians in the State Capitol to open up all existing trails on state land to horses, and even to reopen trails that have long since been shut down and "reclaimed" by nature in favor of reroutes and more sustainable trail designs. House bill 4610 (R-Tim Moore) would do just that. Specifically:
SEC. 72114. (1) THE DEPARTMENT SHALL PRESERVE AND FACILITATE
THE CONTINUED USE AND ACCESS OF PACK AND SADDLE ANIMALS ON ALL
STATE OWNED LAND WHERE THERE IS A HISTORICAL TRADITION OF USE OF
PACK AND SADDLE ANIMALS. ALL TRAILWAYS AND OTHER AREAS ON STATE
OWNED LAND THAT WERE OPEN ON MAY 7, 2008 AND AVAILABLE FOR USE BY
PACK AND SADDLE ANIMALS SHALL REMAIN OPEN AND ACCESSIBLE FOR USE BY
PACK AND SADDLE ANIMALS. ADDITIONALLY, ALL TRAILWAYS AND OTHER
AREAS ON STATE OWNED LAND THAT, PRIOR TO THIS DATE, WERE AVAILABLE
FOR USE BY PACK AND SADDLE ANIMALS SHALL BE REOPENED AND MADE
ACCESSIBLE FOR USE BY PACK AND SADDLE ANIMALS.
What does that mean? It means that if equestrians were using a given trail or trail network 10, 20 or 30 years ago they'll have guaranteed access to it again. Imagine the shit storm that would ensue if Cyclists crafted a law to allow access EVERYWHERE they may have once had "historical" access.