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Monday, September 22, 2014

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Rider suggests reining in horses on Fairfield beaches

Updated 9:36 am, Saturday, February 23, 2013
  • A local horseback rider told the Parks and Recreation Commission it may need to ban horses from Penfield Beach on the weekends because it is getting too crowded. Photo: Genevieve Reilly / Fairfield Citizen
    A local horseback rider told the Parks and Recreation Commission it may need to ban horses from Penfield Beach on the weekends because it is getting too crowded. Photo: Genevieve Reilly

 

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Fairfield is one of only three places in the state where horses are allowed on the beach, and one resident -- who happens to be an avid horseback rider -- thinks it might be time to put some more restrictions in place.

Horses are allowed off-season at Penfield Beach from Oct. 1 to March 31, but local resident Joanne Murphy came to the Parks and Recreation Commission meeting Wednesday night to suggest it might be time to ban horses from the beach on weekends.

On a pleasant 50-degree Saturday or Sunday during that period, Murphy said, the beach is likely to be crowded with people walking along the shoreline, playing with dogs (also allowed on town beaches during off-season) -- and people riding horseback.

"It's gotten so crowded," she said, that horses can pose a safety concern. Rather than have the town ban horses from the beach entirely, Murphy came up with suggested rules, including no horses on the beaches during weekends. Another suggestion is to have the horses enter and leave by the Jacky Durrell Pavilion on Penfield Beach, separating them from the one entrance now used by all near the Penfield Pavilion.

Murphy also said the rules governing horses on the beach should be posted online.

She said she usually rides at the beach during the week when it is less crowded.

The only other beaches where horses are allowed are in Groton and Hammonasett State Park.

"I think she has some good ideas in there," Recreation Director Gerald Lombardo said, "and I think we should review them."

Ariana Mermod, a Westport resident who is president of the Bridle Trail Association, said the group supports Murphy's recommendations.

"We agree it's a great, tremendous privilege to ride on the beach," Mermod said, "and we want to preserve and protect it."

The commissioners agreed they would discuss Murphy's proposal at a future meeting.

greilly@ctpost.com; 203-556-2771; http://twitter.com/GreillyPost