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Raiche would help protect horse riders’ trail rights

To the Editor:
Raising horses is an underappreciated economic activity in McLeod County. The 2012 United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) study on equine inventory reported 90 farms had 444 horses in McLeod County. Every August, the public has a chance to see our local horses fill up the horse barns at the fair.
Compared to owning a bicycle, the initial purchase price for a horse pales in comparison to the ongoing costs to feed and maintain one. In a 2012 article, How Much Does a Horse Cost, Nancy Loving, doctor of veterinary medicine, researches these costs. She concludes that the expenses of horse ownership ranges from $2,500-3,600 per year, in addition to stabling. Apply this to the 444 horses in McLeod County this indicates a total county spending between $1.1 million to $1.6 million each year for feed, veterinarian bills, boarding, annual vaccines and tack and equipment. Additionally, horses need a permit to use trails.
Locally, people put up buildings, fencing, own trucks to pull trailers, buy hay, grain, fly spray, etc., to support their equines. Those purchases directly benefit stores such as Menards, Runnings, car dealers, and many other local lumber and hardware stores. Those businesses in turn hire people to work. Hoping you will get a lot of bikers here to spend money could just be a dream. Horse owners are here already and spending large sums of money in the county.
The current Dakota Rail Trail plan will not allow horses on this trail. We are only asking that we, horse owners/riders, be given access to the trail, whether on the trail or with a parallel trail.
Rob Raiche as our commissioner will help protect our legacy of riding horse trails. He appreciates the economic impact that horse ownership provides to our county. Horse trails should be valued just as much as the bike trails.
Kari Henderson-Reed
Collins Township, rural Stewart