Remarks made by David John Smith to the Maple Ridge Heritage Commission, Feb. 2019
The Haney Horsemen Association was officially registered in 1981 as a provincial non-profit society,
formed by local equestrians who were interested and concerned about horse and rider safety, road
riding and the need for interconnecting trails. The ten founding directors were Winona Moffat
(President), Anne Conn, Zoe Clements, Delores Scott, Sheila Roberge, Joyce Bauman, Susan Sullivan, Earl
Conn, Bill Sullivan and Dave Smith (who finished out Winona’s term as President when work began to
consume all her time); Bill Archibald (“Trail Boss “) joined up later.
The HHA was started to promote safe riding, to help locate, develop and secure equestrian trails off of
roads, to promote and support the right to ride, to connect with local riding stables and to provide
signage and directional trail information between Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge, Golden Ears Provincial
Park, Kanaka Creek Regional Park and Blue Mountain.
In the early 1980s, Sharon Saare from California (USA President Ronald Reagan’s National Trails
Coordinator) was invited up to help us understand the concept of equestrian trails being located on
public lands. And, thus, began the 45+ years of HHA trail work in Maple Ridge.
The HHA worked with the City of Maple Ridge, the Parks and Recreation Department (first with Jim
Godfrey and then Mike Murray), the Parks and Recreation Commission and the planning department to
implement, document and register these equestrian trails. These trails were soon registered as part of
the Maple Ridge Official Community Plan, referred to as the “Schedule F – Equestrian Trails Network”.
As community volunteers, the HHA sought funding for building and maintaining trails, putting up trail
signage and producing promotional and directional information.
Environmental standards were developed and a move away from using wood products like hogfuel and
wood chips for trail surfacing materials began to become the norm. Although we had been able to get
hogfuel/wood products for free from Middleton Trucking, we found them to be unsuitable in the Haney
clays and near watercourses because of the natural wood oils and water issues. We began to use gravel
and more granular products (like road mulch and crushed rock) for trail surfacing materials; however,
that meant having to raise more money to pay for trail materials. This method of Equestrian Trail
building is now the standard for trails developed on municipal lands, provincial park lands and in
regional parks throughout the Lower Mainland. The Campbell Valley Park Manager worked for two years
on HHA trail projects before he started with GVRD/Metro Vancouver parks.
In the mid-1990s, we began to close some creek crossings that had salmon spawning during the fall
spawning season in the Alouette Rivers and Kanaka Creek, in order to help protect our salmon
populations. The HHA also provided the Third-Party Liability Insurance on our Municipal Trails and
Indemnified the Municipality of Maple Ridge and the City of Pitt Meadows. These funds also had to be
raised by us volunteers. And, as our Trails Network grew, so did the number of equestrian trail users and
other outdoor recreation enthusiasts – but so did the need for more funds and for trail maintenance
work parties, more materials and supplies, more trail inspections, more trail reports, more meetings,
more paperwork, more administration, more fund raising, and yet more meetings…
For almost a decade, we were able to work cooperatively with the area prisons, through a program where incarcerated men who were serving less than a 2-year sentence, could assist with trail work. But that option was lost in the late 1990s.
Over the past 40+ years, there were approximately ten key funded work projects that helped achieve
equestrian trails in Maple Ridge, Kanaka Creek Park and Golden Ears Park. These trails work projects
included creating new trails, connecting trails, linking neighbourhoods, resurfacing, realigning, mapping
and documenting our existing equestrian trails network. They allowed for trail connections – east to
west, north to south, between Municipal, Provincial Park and Regional Park Lands and the Schedule F –
Equestrian Trails Network in the Maple Ridge Official Community Plan.
Although the HHA developed and oversaw the building of our local equestrian trails, many other
organizations helped with securing funding and providing crew and supplies; Horse Council BC, Outdoor
Recreation Council of BC, Fraser Valley Endurance Riders of BC, Endurance Riders BC, West Coast
Tennessee Walkers Club, Back Country Horsemen, GETPARC, KEEPS and other nonprofit
outdoor/equestrian societies, as well as individual residents.
Working with the District of Maple Ridge and developers, we began to have the ability to
realign/relocate trails as new developments and subdivisions were built. Working together, this mutual
vision helped with a consistent trail standard regarding trail width, construction materials, drainage, trail
slope and more environmental awareness and a commitment to a contiguous trails network.
As the trail network continued to grow and develop (to over 100 km of trails!), the workload began to
exceed our available volunteer manpower; so, in 2012/2013, the HHA membership asked the District of
Maple Ridge to help and to consider taking over the trails’ maintenance. By then, BC Parks and Kanaka
Creek Regional Park had taken over the trail maintenance in their parks.
The economic impacts from the equestrian community and the horse-related activities/events have
added millions of dollars to our local business community in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows. For over 25
years, we held an annual Endurance Ride with 25-mile, 50-mile and 100-mile events (held out of Allco
Park); some of the local horses and riders have been part of the Canada West Endurance Team.
The corrals at Allco Park have been rebuilt at least three times to accommodate these endurance rides
and prepare our equestrian teams to train and be eligible for the Canada West Team.
Therapeutic Riding began in Maple Ridge under Tilly Mueller, led later by Fiona Christensen and
continues today with a group of very dedicated volunteers out of the North Fraser Therapeutic Riding
Association. (Note that there are now over 22 Therapeutic Riding Associations throughout BC.)
Maple Ridge is also famous for its three Pony Clubs (only in M.R.!)
The HHA have members who regularly compete in Dressage, Hunter Jumper, Cross Country – 3 Day
Eventing, Grand Prix, Endurance and we have national and international Riders and Carriage Drivers
(single horse or teams), who hold clinics and competitions locally.
Even though the HHA started as a group who supported and promoted safe recreational trail riding,
many individual members have helped broaden the scope and focus of equestrian activities; some
include Breeders and Breed Groups, Breed Improvement Programs, Miniature Horse Driving, Para
Olympic Riders and Trainers, Cattle Penning, Team Roping, Draft and Heavy Horse Competitions, Horse
Rescue organizations, Drill Teams, Parade Teams, Endurance and much, much more.
The annual Agri Fair, Mountain Festival, Pitt Meadows Days Parade and the Santa Parade all keep horses
alive in eye of the modern urban city dweller, as more families move out to Maple Ridge.
The HHA, in cooperation with HCBC and the Ministry of Agriculture, helped develop a Nutrient
Management Plan for the Lower Mainland and ended up receiving an Environmental Award for our
work over a 5-year period on the Environmental Farm Plan.
As a natural part of our Canadian Heritage, horses and equestrian activities still make Maple Ridge a
horse community. Nowhere in BC do we see anything like our local equestrian trails network. Many
communities and regions try to emulate what we have achieved here in Maple Ridge.
So, please be proud of what the HHA has accomplished and achieved in Maple Ridge and the
surrounding areas; because the Horse Industry in BC is now over a billion dollars a year.
The above is an abridged edition of Dave’s remarks to the Maple Ridge Community Heritage Commission
during the ceremony celebrating HHA’s Natural Heritage Resource Award in 2019.
This document is also available in PDF for printing and sharing.