I have received several emails asking why non-horse people can camp in an Ohio State Park designated equestrian camp. Many have asked that OHC leadership take action to prevent non-horse people from camping in horse camps in the future. Frequently, the claim is made that allowing non-horse people to camp in a horse camp is a safety risk.
Several years ago, when I was the OHC State Vice President, I attended a meeting with the Ohio State Parks Chief and other OHC state officers. We asked the Chief if horse camps could be limited only to people with horses. His reply, was a no. Horse camps will remain open to anyone who wants to camp there.
About 20 years ago, horses were not allowed in any Ohio State Park campgrounds. OHC and others asked for accommodations that would allow horse camping. The Ohio State Parks agreed and added camp sites that will allow and accommodate horses. These sites never were intended for the exclusive use of campers with horses. At several State Parks, the horse camp sites are adjacent to the family campgrounds. At others (Caesar’s Creek and Hueston Woods), the horse campground is in a separate location.
Is it really a safety issue if non-horse people camp in a horse camp? We discussed this with Ohio State Park officials. Their clear answer was, if we really believe that it’s not safe to allow members of the public in designated horse camps, then the horse camps will be closed. I would add that it’s the horse owner’s responsibility to make sure that your horse is safe in a public campground. You should train your horse to tolerate conditions that you will encounter in a public campground before you go. As an example, some people have told me they are worried about kids on bicycles riding near their horses when non-horse people can camp in a horse campground. You can train your horse to tolerate bicycles by introducing your horse to bicycles during training. This is often called “de-sensitizing” training.
Ohio State Parks did take action to warn people who camp in a horse designated campground. A warning sign is posted at the entrance to the campground:
The campsite reservation system has remarks such as: “This site is denoted for horse camping, but is available to all campers.“ or “This site is designated for persons camping with horses. Horse Camp sites are not marked. Reservation guarantees a spot in the horse camp, not a specific site. You will set up in an area upon arrival. Tie lines, pit toilets and water are provided in the horse camp area.“
In short, the Ohio State Parks position is that the public horse campgrounds will be shared by horse campers and non-horse campers, or there will be no horse campgrounds at all.
Eric Estill, President
Ohio Horseman’s Council