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Chairman's Message - August 2023

Dear BCHFL Board Members:

Thank you to all  our Back Country Horsemen chapters, members, and future members for giving me the awesome opportunity to serve as Chairman of the Back Country Horsemen of Florida (BCHFL) for the next year. (I am also President of the North Florida Back Country Horsemen, so you will see emails from that address.)  Together we will continue our work to maintain trails, add new trails, bring in new members and ensure our place on Florida’s trails.

All our chapters have been doing great work for a long time; we thank you for that!

Last year the North Florida Back Country Horsemen, embarked on a project of historical significance by proposing a Florida Equestrian Heritage Trail network for Florida.  The thought is to choose those trailheads/trails that are equestrian friendly and truly rideable for placement in a statewide designated network, after they have been “vetted” by equestrians.  The designation would bring them together with common signage at the trailhead and a state web page that described each one in a way that helps equestrians with their trail ride planning.  The project will take twists and turns along the way and we will be asking all of you to help us. The program is also evergreen in that trails can be added at any time.  I see it as a continuation of the work I started in the 1980s.   At that time I was on staff for the Florida Senate Natural Resources Committee and wrote into legislation that horseback riding was an authorized use on Florida public lands. Prior to that only hiking, birding, bicycling and paddling were authorized uses. That proposal became law and it changed the horseback riding opportunities for Florida equestrians from that day forward.

The long-term goal is to make sure that the trails in the Florida Equestrian Heritage Trail network are recognized for the role they play in Florida’s equestrian history, past, present, and future, and to ensure their access to equestrians going forward.  Have you heard of the Florida Birding Trail, the Florida Paddling Trail, the Florida Hiking Trail, the Florida Art Trail….so why not a Florida Equestrian Heritage Trail?

The FEHT project began in 2022 and a state appropriation of $350,000 was obtained, but vetoed by the Governor.  The project  was officially endorsed by the BCHFL Board earlier this month and we will move forward together with a new strategy to make it a reality.

That is just one of the many projects BCHFL and its chapters will be working on. Our chapters are adding new trail miles, maintaining existing trails, advocating for trails, educating the public about equestrian trail use and safety, and working with our many land managers to accomplish mutual goals.  BCHFL is unique in the number of land managers we work with – federal, state, regional, and local, because Florida is unique with their aggressive land purchase and management programs. 

BCHFL is well connected to BCHA through the national board representation by Truman Prevatt, the BCHA Southeast Public Lands Committee by Karen Pando and me, and through our association with chapters in other states, such as those in Wyoming.  We do have an opening for another representative on the national board, so if you would like to be considered for that, please let me know.

We will have another Board call in the last quarter of this year and each quarter thereafter to stay abreast of BCH activities.  Please put Kathy Thompson on your newsletter mailing list, so we can highlight your accomplishments on our web page.

I am passionate about trails and have been riding trails all my life.  I know you are too or you would not be a BCH member!  Together, we will keep up the great work already started and make Florida trails the best they can be for equestrians!


Best wishes,

Nancy Stephens



Safety tips when there is a horse on the trail! 

Equisure Liability Insurance 

Now Available to BCHFL Members!

Click here to learn more 

Ebikes on Trails – Risk to Horsemen