June 2016

Equestrian Trail Management in Amo & Coatesville Improved

Recent feedback from Hendricks County Vandalia Trail horseback riders has been that the trail is beautiful, but it's not very clear what route they are supposed to take within the town of Amo. At the same time, recent feedback from Amo is that they would like to find a way to avoid encountering the occasional horse manure on the section of trail that is within town as well as on their town streets. The volunteer groups Friends of the Vandalia Trail and Vandalia Trail Citizens' Advisory Board took this feedback and re-energized earlier discussions about how to improve management of the equestrian trail in the towns. The result has been the installation this weekend of additional directional signage in Amo and enhanced guidance and reminder signage in Amo and Coatesville about horseback riders cleaning up within "Clean Zones" in the towns.

The additional directional signage in Amo helps equestrians be certain of their trail route going west from the trailer parking area in front of the Interurban Depot. Four new signs have been installed between the parking area and the first trail culvert 1 1/2 blocks west. As shown in the aerial view below, horseback riders should cross Pearl Street from the trailer parking area and continue west through the open, undeveloped grassy area shared with bikes and pedestrians.

Vandalia Trail Routes in Town of Amo (June 2016)
Vandalia Trail in Amo

At Vine Street, the horse trail then separates to the south. The previous signage on the west side of Vine Street was apparently not clear enough about this separation, because we often saw evidence of horse traffic on the bike/ped trail to the west within town. That sign location has been enhanced with an additional more obvious Equestrian sign added to the top, shown in the photo below. We would greatly appreciate feedback from horseback riders on the effectiveness of the directional signage throughout Amo now.

Vandalia Trail Signs on West Side of Vine Street in Amo Showing Equestrian Route to the Left
Vandalia Trail signs in Amo

To enhance the cleanliness within the towns, our first step is shown in the guidance on the sign below. This sign has been posted at the trailer parking areas and hitch rail areas in Amo and Coatesville.

As a reminder of this guidance and to highlight the extent of the area of interest, additional signs stating "Equestrian Clean Zone" have been posted along the trail within the towns. Throughout the history of this trail, horseback riders have been very cooperative in keeping the trailer parking areas clean, taking away in their trailers the horse manure dropped in that immediate area. This enhanced guidance requests that the same respect be given to the towns and their residents away from the trailer parking areas, too.

In the town where one began their ride, it is requested that horseback riders go back the short distance from the trailer and clean up what was left along the equestrian trail within this zone. In the other town, it is requested that horseback riders use the shovels that are provided at the hitch rails and clean up what is left along the trail in that town, depositing it in the nearest hitch rail area. We understand that this is some extra work, but it shows respect to those who live or work nearby and have generously provided this space for the horseback riding activity.

The other part of this guidance to help keep the towns clean is the request that if horseback riders wish to explore the towns away from the trail, that they hitch their horses on the trail and explore on foot. This guidance was already partially implemented in Coatesville a few years ago when we posted signs in the parking lot of a local business directing horseback riders to the trail's hitch rail 100 yards to the east. Since that time, we have heard no more complaints about horse manure at the entrance to that business.

We will continue to monitor the conditions within the towns and refine the guidance and the layout as is found necessary. We are certainly interested in your ideas and feedback for making this a fun and useful facility that is a good neighbor to those who live, work, and play nearby. Next year's major upgrade of the bike/ped trail and amenities may provide some interesting opportunities to improve the equestrian arrangement, as well.