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Right to Ride Legislation Passes House Resources Committee

American Horse Council Press Release

The “Right to Ride” bill (H.R. 2966) passed the House Resources Committee today. The bill was introduced by Congressman George Radanovich (R-CA). “Congressman Radanovich has worked very hard to get the bill passed by the Resources Committee,” said Jay Hickey, President of the American Horse Council. “The recreational horse industry appreciates his support and tenacity.”

In supporting the bill, Representative Radanovich pointed out that pack and saddle stock "have long been used on public lands. This bill simply recognizes that traditional use in the U.S." Some feel that horses have been targeted for exclusion from public lands, he noted. I call this "management by closure." That is not the way our public lands should be handled. This bill is intended to help with this problem.

“Having this bill reported out of the House Resources Committee is an important step. This vote is a recognition of the unique place that horses and saddle stock have in our heritage and in recreation on public lands,” said Hickey. “There were several statements made by Members of the Committee during the debate that were very supportive of the use of horses on federal lands, including Wilderness areas.”

Representative Neil Abercrombie (D-HI) said that the bill served a serious purpose. "Horses and pack animals are special," he said, "particularly in the West. Their use should be encouraged." Representative Abercrombie also said that the purpose of the legislation was a valid one – to prevent a reduction of the use of horses on public lands. "Anything that we can do to preserve this use should be encouraged," he said.

Representative Eni F.H. Faleomavaega (D-American Samoa) also supported the bill pointing out that horses are a “part of our culture, this is our heritage. We want this sector of the society to continue."

The bill was opposed by Representatives Nick Rahall (D-WV), Ranking Member of the Committee, and Donna Christensen (D-Virgin Islands), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on National Parks, Recreation and Public Lands, as “unecessary,” since horses are not being uniformly banned from federal lands. “Do not saddle land managers with this yolk," Congressman Rahall said. “Instead, pack in this bill and let it ride off into the sunset."

Though both Representatives Rahall and Christensen spoke in opposition to the bill, they did not vote against it.

The bill applies to all federal lands managed by the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Forest Service. Specifically the legislation mandates that the lands should be managed by the federal agencies "to preserve and facilitate the continued use and access of pack and saddle stock animals on such lands, including wilderness areas, national monuments, and other specifically designated areas, where there is a historical tradition of such use." In addition, the legislation requires that "as a general rule, all trails, routes, and areas used by pack and saddle stock shall remain open and accessible for such use."

“This is a great victory for the $28 billion recreational horse industry,” said Jay Hickey. “Representative Radanovich remains dedicated to this legislation. We look forward to working with him to get the bill to the House floor.”

As the national trade association representing the horse industry in Washington, D.C., the American Horse Council works daily to represent equine interests and investments. Organized in 1969, the AHC has been promoting and protecting the industry by communicating with Congress, federal agencies, the media and the industry on behalf of all horse related interests each and every day.

The AHC is member supported by individuals and organizations representing virtually every facet of the horse world from owners, breeders, veterinarians, farriers, breed registries and horsemen's associations to horse shows, race tracks, rodeos, commercial suppliers and state horse councils.