New code of conduct for horse riders aims to protect Woodbury Common wildlife and heathland
PUBLISHED: 18:37 22 November 2018
© Guy Newman
Horse riders have teamed up with conservationists to encourage other equestrians to safeguard wildlife on Woodbury Common.
Katie Lee, from East Budleigh, has been riding on East Devon Pebblebed Heaths for seven years, and is backing a new code of conduct for horse riders.
The voluntary code for horse riders aims to protect and preserve the landscape for future generations.
The Pebblebed Horse Code is one of a series of voluntary codes of conduct launched this year; a Pebblebed Dog Code was launched in the spring and Pebblebed Bike Code launched this summer.
Katie Lee said the voluntary code was a ‘common sense’ way horse riders could help preserve the landscape.
She said: “I feel very lucky to have the heaths on my doorstep.
“It’s a very therapeutic place to ride and we should all do our bit to preserve this precious area.
“The code is a common sense approach to enjoying the heaths alongside wildlife and all those who use it, and if it encourages horse riders to work together to make the space safe and enjoyable for everyone for years to come, then that’s a good thing.”
The new code calls for horse riders to slow down when passing; be polite; follow tracks and avoid widening paths.
Shutting gates, reporting problems and dismounting to explore sensitive sites, such as Woodbury Castle, also feature.
The code was developed by experts from the Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust, with the South East Devon Habitat Regulations Partnership, RSPB, Devon Wildlife Trust, and input from the local horse riding community.
Kim Strawbridge, Pebblebed Heaths site manager, said: “Today’s horse riders play an important role in the future of their sport and access rights, as well as the condition of the heaths and the much-loved tracks.
“By following the code, horse riders can be sure they are sharing this space in a positive way with wildlife and other people, while keeping the routes in good condition for everyone to use and enjoy.”
The heaths offer space for recreational activities with more than 400,000 visits recorded a year; they provide open access to those on foot.
Cyclists and horse riders are permitted across much of the heathland.