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2001/08/14

Horseback Riders Welcome At Shelby Farms The Shelby Farms Equestrian Alliance is very excited about receiving the permission of Tim Martin, Park Administrator, to open the White Trail for horseback riding. This trail intersects with the Blue and Yellow trails that meander through the lush hardwood greenbelt along the southern edge of the park and skirts around the Lucius Burch, Jr. Natural Area that is open only to hikers. It is a four mile trail that takes approximately three hours to ride. While most of the trail must be done at a walk, there are some areas where you can trot or canter. Members of the Shelby Farms Equestrian Alliance rode the trail on June 30 with Ranger Mike Tate to get the lay of the land and to see what would be needed to make the trail horse friendly. On July 28, members of the Shelby Farms Equestrian Alliance, with the help of the Shelby Farms Park Rangers, put up signs, marked trail crossings and cleared the White trail. The money for this project was earmarked specifically for signage in and around the Lucius Burch, Jr. Natural Area and was made available to the Alliance in a grant received from the Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation. The funding for this award was made possible through the generous support of the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis, the Lucius E. Burch, Jr. Wildlife Habitat Fund, John and Estee Sheahan, Dan Turley, Michael Turley, the Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association, Babe Howard and the Millington Phone Company, and Scott P. Ledbetter. "Although the individual award amounts are small for each project, we believe this will stimulate long distance trails and greenway projects," said John Sheahan, Chairman of the Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation. The Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation is a nonprofit foundation dedicated to preserving the beauty of Tennessee. The Foundation's mission is to preserve Tennessee's scenic beauty and rich wildlife by creating an interconnected system of parks, greenways and wild areas from the Mississippi River to the Great Smoky Mountains. Using matching money from members and businesses, additional signage and trail markers at the trailheads at Germantown Road and Walnut Grove Road were also purchased and put in place. While the Alliance wants everyone to enjoy the new trail, there are some precautions that need to be followed by riders. The White trail is not for young, inexperienced horses. Riders should be warned that because this is a multi-use trail, joggers, bicycles and hikers, sometimes with dogs, also use the trails. Horses may be surprised by someone coming up suddenly from behind or in front, because the trails are narrow and there is a lot of undergrowth. Be aware of your surroundings. Trail etiquette is very important for the safety of all concerned. If possible, move off of the trail with your horse's tail away from the trail to allow someone to pass. There are several narrow bridges that have to be crossed and during wet weather, the trails become slippery. If you are an inexperienced rider, we strongly recommend riding with someone with trail experience on a quiet horse. You may not ride in the Lucius Burch, Jr. Natural Area. Doing so may result in a citation and a fine. Having said that, members of the Alliance who have ridden the trail have had a great time and no problems. Shelby Farms has applied for a grant to improve both trailheads but has yet to receive word on the status of the grants. Therefore, if you plan on starting at the Germantown Road end it is recommended that you park in the large parking lot in front of the Show Place Arena as the gravel road down to the start of the trails is very rough and there is little turn around room if the parking lot is full. To get to the trails from the parking lot, simply head south across the open field and follow the asphalt multi-use trail to the entrance at the trailhead. The entrance is narrow, so watch your knees! At the Walnut Grove trailhead, you should turn into the parking lot in front of the soccer fields south of Walnut Grove. You may park there or follow the road west to parking under the bridge. This parking is very close to Walnut Grove and very noisy. Once in the entrance gates to the trails, you may follow the Blue Trail or the Yellow Trail to where they connect with the White trail. Do not go in the Lucius Burch, Jr. Nature Area. At the Walnut Grove end there is one wooden bridge that is not safe to cross with a horse as it does not have a center support. It will be marked with an "unsafe horses" sign. All other bridges may be crossed on horses. The Alliance is in the process of preparing a brochure about the White trail and will place it in the Visitor's Center at the park. Copies may also be obtained by calling 662-851-7122 and requesting one. They will be mailed as soon as they are available. You must have a permit to ride in the park. Permits can be obtained at the Visitor's Center. You will need to show a 12 month negative coggins. The permits are free and are good for one year or until your coggins runs out. If you have any questions, please call 662-851-7122 or 901-861-1970. In the future, members of the Shelby Farms Equestrian Alliance will be working with Shelby Farms to open up and develop trails north of Walnut Grove that will end at a new trailhead behind the Agriculture Extension Service office on Shelby Oaks. If you would like to help the Alliance in developing trails in the Shelby County Area, contact Jerry Rhodes at 901-861-1970. The Alliance invites you to become a member. Please contact Jerry Rhodes at the above number for information on joining the Shelby Farms Equestrian Alliance.

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