Horse enthusiasts challenge editor’s opinion on proposed center

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 25, 2005

Editor, the News-Herald:

The first charge of a journalist is to report responsibility and know the facts about the subject.

Your commentary in the Sunday edition shows a complete lack of understanding and is personally very insulting to most of us who pursue equestrian activities.

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The &uot;Sport of Kings&uot; refers strictly to horse racing – certainly a most expensive sport that did descend from &uot;Kings&uot;.

Horse activities like Trail Riding, Western, Reining and Rodeo descended from the Cowboys that helped settle this nation; Dressage and Eventing has evolved from military exercises.

Care of any animal or pet can be expensive, but not limited to a wealthy few.

Your many references to &uot;Kings&uot; make me feel that you think horse owners are wealthy.

Quite the opposite, the vast majority of horse owners are hard working, middle class families who make tremendous sacrifices to pursue their love of the horse.

It’s true some of us have good jobs, but some of us scrape it together because horses are a part of us that we can’t live without.

To pursue any &uot;hobby,&uot; we all make choices.

Horse owners like us choose not to take vacations, not to buy new clothes, not to eat dinner out at fancy restaurants, not to buy new homes in the most exclusive areas, all so that we can afford to pay for the care that our horses deserve.

But disposable income spent on our &uot;hobbies&uot;-whatever the hobby may be, is an important contribution to the economy.

The comparisons to golf are not valid. Equestrian activities often involve the whole family not just the man of the house. While Golf may be a &uot;passion&uot; for some, for most it’s an enjoyable hobby. The love of the horse is a passion for all who own these beautiful animals.

Little else can compare to the feeling of a soft nose touching your hand as he takes a treat from you.

Little else can compare to the partnership you form with this large magnificent creature as you ride together.

Golf doesn’t require the love necessary to go out on a cold rainy morning to feed and clean stalls by 6 a.m. before you leave for work.

Sport of Kings?

No actually it’s a labor of love with a lot of manure and mud thrown in.

Suffolk is full of back yard private horse farms and several large equestrian businesses. It’s fair to say that Suffolk is the most equestrian focused community in Tidewater.

I think that almost every little girl loves horses at some point, those of us with the passion never really grow up I guess.

Isn’t it nice that we do have a community like Suffolk where we can have our horses?

Do you want to change every community to allow and promote only golf, soccer and baseball?

Horse owners impact many related careers.

Just in Suffolk we have boarding barns, trainers, large animal veterinarians, hay and grain companies, tack stores, blacksmiths and massage therapists – all for our horses.

Not to mention, farm equipment, barn construction, fencing and pastures, a large contribution to the Suffolk economy.

Yes some of us love to show as well.

We are an equestrian community so it makes sense.

Places like Williamston NC have built up their economy around their new equestrian facility.

Amazing how much money that is bringing into the local economy and they built it in the middle of nowhere.

If Suffolk builds an Equestrian facility and builds it right, we will attract all sorts of competitors and spectators – not kings – but horse lovers young and old alike.

Suffolk has a strong equestrian foundation to help support it as well as an ever-expanding structure (Hotels, restaurants) to attract out of town tourism and provide additional recreational activities. The entire Sports complex will promote so many activities!

What an outstanding addition to our community!

Including the equestrian center.

Mike and Kathy Rowse