Press Releases

About Trail and Open Space Preservation

Open space planning for equestrian trails.

04.02.2014 • GMHA’s Trail Preservation Work Enters Fifth Year

Four years ago, Green Mountain Horse Association confronted a big threat with a bold move.  When key equestrian trails began to be lost to subdivision and property transfer, its leadership took action, forming what has become a successful program in trail preservation.  Now for the fifth year, GMHA continues its work with landowners to secure equestrian culture and tradition for future generations of trail riders within a uniquely beautiful trail network in four towns.

Public roadways are not good places for horses and riders to be.  Traffic moves too fast and drivers have too many distractions.  Road surfaces are hard and in no way compare to the natural, forgiving, impact-absorbing qualities of trails.  Being off-road allows both person and animal to relax and enjoy the ride, to take in the natural world around them.

Past GMHA President and longtime Trustee, Eileene Wilmot, once wrote: “The incomparable beauty of Vermont has beguiled and induced many horse loving people to make their homes here.  The hills and valleys and shaded woods have wrought the same green magic over summer residents.  Both of these horse loving groups have come here because the horse to them is a way of life, and in the belief they could pursue the even tenor of their ways.”

Equestrian trails are permanently protected with an easement, a legal agreement that allows others to use a corridor on someone’s land in a manner described in the easement.  The easement document is a flexible one, which can be customized to meet the needs of the landowner.  Together, GMHA and the landowner decide on a management plan.  Some landowners enjoy performing their own trail maintenance, such as chainsaw work or brush trimming.  Others want nothing to do with it, and that is when GMHA’s band of trail stewards and other volunteers roll up their sleeves.

Due to GMHA’s specific mission for equestrian activities, its trail easement has been developed for equestrian use only.  However, collaboration with other trail users that are compatible with horse traffic and low-impact to the trails is welcomed.  For example, these uses could include snowmobiles, bicycles and hiking. Motorized uses such as ATVs or motorbikes are not considered to be low-impact to the trail nor compatible with equestrian use.  And, of course, other trail users must always seek individual landowner permission first.

Vermont law encourages private landowners to allow public access by helping to limit landowners’ liability in the event a trail user is injured.  The law says a landowner shall not be liable for personal injury or property damage of a recreational user so long as the landowner did not cause the injury by intentional or extremely reckless misconduct.  For landowners to be protected by this statute, they may not charge fees for the access.

Building trusting relationships, sharing a similar land ethic and cultivating common ground with local landowners are all key ingredients for the success of the trail preservation program.  One-by-one, trails are connecting into perpetuity, and for that GMHA thanks all the like-minded property owners who are showing the way. 

Interested in donating a trail to GMHA?  Please call Trail Preservation Specialist, Cyndy Kozara, 802-457-1509, ext. 220 or visit www.gmhainc.org/easements.html.

For more information, please visit:  www.gmhainc.org/trailpreservation.html, or call 802-457-1509, ext. 220.

07.16.2013 • GMHA Awarded Trail Preservation Grant

Green Mountain Horse Association recently received a $3,000 grant from the David Greenewalt Charitable Trust to continue its work of preserving local equestrian trails.  In 2010, GMHA initiated the Trail and Open Space Preservation Program to help protect its unique trail network, located within a four-town area, through the innovative use of permanent trail easements.  This effort was spawned when key equestrian trails were beginning to be lost to property turnover as the economic downturn unfolded.

GMHA has a long-standing dedication to the preservation of Vermont countryside, working landscapes and the traditions of trail riding and carriage driving.  It works directly with landowners to identify trail connections and collaborate on protecting them for future generations through the donation of trails.  To date, it has protected 23 trails on 12 properties with additional trail easements in various stages of progress.  GMHA also works closely with local realtors, land trusts, municipalities, and State agencies to achieve its trail preservation goals.

Donating a trail is easy to do, and as more landowners learn about this important program of conservation, they become excited about the land legacy they might also leave.  They understand the part they can play in keeping GMHA so vital to the local community and perpetuating the culture and traditions that keep it alive and well.

For more information, please visit:  www.gmhainc.org/trailpreservation.html, or call 802-457-1509, ext. 220.

06.03.2013 • Funding Awarded for Trail Preservation Program

Green Mountain Horse Association recently received a $5,000 grant from the Davis Conservation Foundation to continue its work of preserving local equestrian trails.  In 2010, GMHA initiated the Trail and Open Space Preservation Program to help protect its unique trail network, located within a four-town area, through the innovative use of permanent trail easements.  This effort was spawned as key equestrian trails were beginning to be lost to property turnover brought on by a struggling economy.

GMHA has a long-standing dedication to the preservation of Vermont countryside, working landscapes and the traditions of trail riding and carriage driving.  It works directly with landowners to identify trail connections and collaborate on protecting them for future generations with a trail donation.  To date, it has protected 23 trails on 12 properties with more trail easements on tap for the coming year.  GMHA also works closely with local realtors, land trusts, municipalities, and State agencies to achieve its trail preservation goals.

Donating a trail is easy to do, and as more landowners learn about this important program of conservation, they become excited about the land legacy they might also leave.  They understand the part they can play in keeping GMHA so vital to the local community and perpetuating the culture and traditions that keep it alive and well.

For more information, please visit:  www.gmhainc.org/trailpreservation.html, or call 802-457-1509, ext. 220.

03.14.2013 - West Windsor Landowners Donate "Bonnie's Trail" in Memory of Daughter

March 14, 2013: Frank and Rosemary Moore bought their first Morgan broodmare in 1961 and their first foal in 1963. They bred and raised foals almost every year until 1999, showing horses extensively for over 30 years under saddle as well as single and pair driving. In the mid-60s, Frank and daughter, Robin, participated in a three-day trail ride sponsored by the New England Morgan Horse Association at GMHA. The South Woodstock area and GMHA became a part of the Moore family’s life for the next 45 years.

In 1973, Frank and youngest daughter, Bonnie, attended the annual meeting of the Carriage Association of America at GMHA. The family visited the area frequently to ride and drive its homebred and trained Morgans on local roads and trails. They became friends with the Reeves family, John and Katharine Leslie, Eileen Wilmot, Ruth Ferguson, and others who have long since passed. In 1980 and 1996, Frank and Rosemary acquired land and buildings from Mrs. Reeves, and after retirement in 1998, became summer residents. Since then they have enjoyed riding and driving horses here every summer, July through October—Morgan Percheron crossbreds in the last seven years. Frank volunteers his time and tractor to keep trails mowed on the Caper Hill Farm property.

During the years, as property changed hands, it became apparent to the Moores that accessibility to trails was changing due to subdivision and new homes. They shared a desire to keep this unique area open for others to experience the same enjoyment of the land and trails that they had. In 2007, the property was conserved through the New England Forestry Foundation, including acreage adjacent to the Reeves Memorial Forest. The final step was to donate a trail easement to GMHA for two equestrian trails, ensuring accessibility for years to come. This transaction was recently finalized.

Frank Moore offers a personal note, “The trail across the top of the property is named “Bonnie’s Trail” in memory of my youngest daughter. Bonnie, her husband and I rode this trail in October 1999, the last trail ride she took before she was killed three weeks later in a traffic accident in New York City. We would like to see this beautiful area preserved for future generations.”

02.18.2013 - Historic Caper Hill Farm Trails Donated to GMHA

February 18, 2013: An important value often overlooked with regard to trail preservation is the historical and cultural significance of traditional trail riding and carriage driving. To sustain these values long-term, GMHA depends on like-minded local landowners to share land with our riders and drivers. Recently, the Leslie family of Caper Hill Farm, located in the Towns of Reading and West Windsor, made a dream come true by donating seven trails to GMHA. These trails—including Cathedral Trail, West Pasture Trail, and Lookout Trail—are now permanently protected for equestrian use.

Everyone who knows GMHA knows the legacy of John and Katharine Leslie, who donated most of their lives to the organization and initiated The Leslie Memorial Scholarship Fund. John served as President of GMHA’s Youth Center and Executive Committee Member for three decades. In 2002, John and Katharine were inaugural honorees of the Connie McCollom Award for their overall care and well-being of GMHA. Daughter, Jane Jackson, wrote the following about the family and Caper Hill Farm:

“GMHA at one time had some shirts identifying it as a “special place.” To us, there is another special place which is inextricably tied to GMHA and that is Caper Hill. Our parents bought Caper Hill Farm in 1959 when we ranged in ages from 18 to not-yet-born. But over the last 40 years, when we visited one special place, we invariably visited the other. In the early morning foggy darkness, we watched from the grounds as the 100-milers set out (or set out as one of the competitors ourselves). Then back to Caper Hill we would go to fill the water tanks for the thirsty horses, cheer on the riders and hand out our mother’s cookies. Later we’d return to the grounds to watch the riders come in and enjoy the barbeque dinner.

Over the years, the Leslie family and descendants have enjoyed and participated in innumerable events: Competitive trail rides, horse shows, driving clinics, horse trials and Junior Horsemanship camp. Our parents (and grandparents), John and Katharine Leslie, served on GMHA boards; hosted lunch stops in the West Pasture and at the top of Caper Hill; welcomed competitors, judges and other officials at Caper Hill for dinner or overnight; marked trails and volunteered in countless ways at countless events.

And so it is that we would like to see this partnership continue. We would like to ensure that the preservation and enjoyment of the trails and views of Caper Hill continue to be available to all GMHA members as well as other community members. Doing so honors our parents’ spirit of generosity.”

01.22.2013 - Spencer Family Donates "Reeves Trail" to GMHA

January 22, 2013: Anyone walking, driving or riding along Rush Meadow Road is familiar with the whimsical blue and yellow sign that reads “The Reeves Memorial Watering Trough, Courtesy of the Spencer Family.” Located near a point where four towns connect, this distinctive sight is a welcome one to horseback riders emerging from a trail on a warm summer day.

The Spencers have recently taken another step to honor former local landowner, Stella E. Reeves, by donating a trail in her name to the Green Mountain Horse Association (GMHA). Molly, Jane and Carlisle Spencer—mother, daughter, and son—of West Windsor, approached GMHA last year with a well-thought out plan to increase safety for local riders and carriage drivers. They are the owners of property located on a dangerous blind curve and were concerned that too many vehicles were not slowing down for horses and carriages. Their solution: A scenic trail through their open meadow to the end of their driveway at the watering trough. Local carriage drivers were invited to test the trail and determine a good route with appropriate turns. The trail connects existing trails on neighboring properties to Rush Meadow Road.

The Spencers seized an opportunity to creatively remedy a problem and at the same time express their personal values with the donation of an equestrian trail. They support the local equestrian culture, their neighbors and people they don’t even know. Their goodwill and generosity was put to the test when a previous watering trough was stolen on July 3, 2011. Initially upset and not inclined to replace it, they decided to shrug it off, saying “Well, it was the Fourth of July, and someone probably needed it for their beer.” Soon after, a shiny new tank was installed.

01.16.2013 - Linda Johnson Donates Second Equestrian Trail to GMHA

January 16, 2013: In December 2009, West Windsor resident, Linda Johnson—affectionately known as L.J.—became the first landowner to donate an equestrian trail easement to Green Mountain Horse Association (GMHA). Now, three years later, she has done it again!

A long-time supporter of GMHA, L.J.’s love of horses began at just three and a half years old, when she spotted some horses near her home. She has been a devoted horse enthusiast ever since. When she was a young adult of 20, she was given her first horse by a dear friend. L.J. became a GMHA member in 1970 and travelled from Westport, CT to Vermont as much as possible. She rented horses from Paul Kendall and rode the trails around GMHA. In 2005, she purchased her present home in West Windsor, where she greets trail riders from her back deck as they ride by on her donated trails or when a lunch stop is held on the back lawn. L.J.’s daughter, Avery, has been a GMHA member since she was eleven, and grand-daughter Grace has been a member for eight years.

The Johnson trails offer horseback riders beautiful views of Mount Ascutney as well as peaceful woodland sections leading to neighboring trails, some with GMHA trail easements and some without. For example, nearby landowners, Shirley and Bob Fenner, donated the Gambol Hill Farm Trail in October 2011. GMHA is currently negotiating further trail easements in the area.

L.J. isn’t shy about her passions and always appreciates the unexpected pleasure: “One day, when I was at the kitchen sink, I glanced up from what I was doing and an antique four-in-hand coach was going by. The harnesses were beautiful with lots of shiny brass hardware. It was incredible.” She also advocates for equestrian trail preservation with sincerity and enthusiasm, “GMHA is one of a kind! All of us who love it should commit to protecting it and the land.”

03.23.2012 • Preserving a Tradition of Trail Riding

March 23, 2012: A passionate and steadfast horse culture endures in Northern New England despite the gloomy economic climate of these last few years and the loss of open land as properties are sold or subdivided. Traditional trail riding, made possible by an expansive network of trails throughout the countryside, has been a part of our rural culture for a very long time. Equestrian trail riders treasure the opportunity to enjoy peaceful and diverse off-road experiences with their horses, where hard footing, dangerous curves and speeding drivers can be left behind.

Two years ago, Green Mountain Horse Association (GMHA) embarked on a bold and highly-focused initiative of trail and open space preservation through the use of permanent trail easements. The impetus for that decision originated within the mission statement created by its founders 85 years ago, which reads, in part, “developing and maintaining bridle trails in the State of Vermont.” Many decades have passed since the GMHA trail network extended from as far north as the border with Canada and south to Massachusetts. The number of trails has dwindled considerably; a fact that fuels the fire to protect what remains.

“Open space or land” refers to land (forest or meadow) that is not developed and is of some benefit to the public. A key strategy for GMHA’s Trail and Open Space Preservation Program is to make connections between private and public land and roadways. Whenever possible, linkages are made to lands that are publicly-owned either by towns or the State and privately-owned lands conserved through local land trusts, which support public access for recreational use. Trails on non-conserved private land can be preserved into perpetuity with trail easements donated to GMHA. Landowners that donate become participants in land conservation and open space preservation on a smaller scale with meaningful positive impact to the tradition of trail riding.

An important value often overlooked with regard to trail preservation is the historical and cultural significance of traditional trail riding. The four-town area surrounding GMHA includes the towns of Woodstock, Reading, Hartland and West Windsor. It is considered to be historically important in large part because of GMHA’s long and remarkable history and the equestrian activity it continues to bring to the area. This activity significantly bolsters the local economy, bringing over $4 million to the greater- Woodstock area, according to an economic impact study completed by Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. One of the five disciplines offered at GMHA is trail riding, so horses and riders are a familiar and welcome sight to residents and visitors alike. Marty Hunt, Executive Director at GMHA states, “Each year, in addition to popular pleasure rides, we host a number of sanctioned competitive and endurance rides, such as the historic 100-mile, which is in its 76th year. Our riders all agree that GMHA’s trail system is well-maintained and uniquely beautiful.” The area is often promoted for these cultural values by others. Local realtors never hesitate to include the proximity to GMHA’s trails in property listings, seen as an attractive positive amenity, to attract potential buyers to where this traditional recreational activity still occurs and contributes to the rural working landscape.

Every one of the trail easements donated to GMHA either connects to other secured trails or to important trails that could be donated in the future. Since 2010, ten trail segments have been permanently protected and one in South Woodstock, which abuts GMHA grounds, is awaiting signature. Another jewel in the crown of trail preservation efforts— East Hill—successfully concluded last August, securing a critical trail for GMHA that connects directly to its grounds and serves as a major corridor for the Vermont Association of Snow Travelers (VAST). This two-year-long community conservation collaboration involved South Woodstock residents, businesses, the Upper Valley Land Trust and the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board to conserve an undeveloped 71-acre village backdrop. GMHA contributed $100,000 toward the $490,000 goal. The property, now owned by Tom Debevoise and Laurie Livingston, joins their previously-conserved dairy farm and offers two trails for non-motorized, multi-use recreation. In addition to the main trail for GMHA and VAST, a second trail travels along Kedron Brook. “Laurie and I have wanted to do something special for the South Woodstock community, so we’re happy to provide the recreational trails. The property also joins about 515 acres of adjacent conservation land, which is pretty amazing for a small hamlet like ours,” says Tom Debevoise.

Prospects for 2012 are looking quite good with 12-15 trail donation opportunities being explored. The trail easement process can take several months. It begins with a walk on the trails and discussion of goals, continues with GPS mapping and creation of the document, and concludes with closing and filing. GMHA’s Trail Preservation Specialist, Cyndy Kozara, works directly with landowners and explains, “The legal document has flexibility so that both parties can achieve their goals. However, the permanent nature of our trail easement is non-negotiable. To be truly meaningful it needs staying power. We are trying to preserve something with true historical and cultural value; the work is too important to be temporary.” Info: www.gmhainc.org/trailpreservation or 802-457-1509.

The Green Mountain Horse Association, founded in 1926, is a 65-acre equestrian facility in South Woodstock, Vermont. It is a non-profit 501(3)(c) organization fully committed to serving five equine disciplines including: trail riding, hunter/jumpers,dressage, eventing and driving. With approximately 1,500 members, GMHA is a vital community of equestrian enthusiasts. Each event season contributes over $4 million to the local economy. In addition to competitions and pleasure rides, GMHA offers many educational activities and is a leader in trail and open space preservation. Member support helps to ensure that GMHA will continue to exist for future generations and preserve its legacy in the equestrian community.

08.15.2011 • Connecting the Dots One Trail at a Time

August 15, 2011:  Equestrian trail easements are catching on in a very big way at Green Mountain Horse Association (GMHA).  In 2010, the first year of its Trail and Open Space Preservation Program, four trail easements in two towns were finalized, setting the wheels in motion.  This year, the program has taken a major leap forward with commitments for eight easements in four towns and three strong potential opportunities waiting in the wings.

Landowners are backing up their personal views and values with proactive choices to permanently preserve trails.  They are rejecting the status quo and choosing to forge something long-lasting for present and future trail riders.  As each trail link is secured, others can follow in a gradual, natural pattern of connection throughout the countryside.  Sharing land in this way connects people as well as land with a basic understanding of respect and gratitude. 

The GMHA equestrian trail easement offers an innovative, non-regulatory conservation approach to recreational land use.  Landowners willingly donate a trail easement, which is perpetual and runs with the land, owner-to-owner.  Recorded with the property deed, it is a good way to participate in land conservation on a small scale and help maintain wildlife corridors and scenic views.  GMHA collects GPS data on the trail’s location, which is used in the easement document, and creates a map for the landowner.

Landowners who donate trail easements remark how much they enjoy the tranquil beauty of horses moving along a fence line or quietly meandering through a wooded trail.  They also know that GMHA is ever-mindful of impacts to its trail system.  With an emphasis on good landowner relations, trail maintenance issues are addressed with minimal disturbance by trail volunteers, GMHA staff or if needed, hired contractors.

A local effort to conserve a 71-acre parcel with a critical equestrian trail in South Woodstock will soon be over.  Since early in 2010, GMHA and the Upper Valley Land Trust have worked closely with neighbors, Tom Debevoise and Laurie Livingston—who would become the new owners—as well as local businesses and community members, to raise funds necessary to purchase a perpetual conservation easement.   GMHA enthusiastically led the way with a major pledge of $100,000. 

With patience and fortitude, the East Hill Project continues to secure pledges in time for an upcoming extended closing date of August 26.  The project was awarded a $25,000 grant from the Byrne Foundation, which has also offered to match $25,000 in donations as a challenge grant.  In May, the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board voted to approve in full a $75,000 grant application.  To date, $403,350 has been raised with a gap of $56,600 remaining to be raised in the next week.

Trails throughout the property are used extensively in all seasons for hiking, snowshoeing, horseback riding and snowmobiling, as well as sleigh rides for winter visitors to local inns and businesses.  The Vermont Association of Snow Travelers (VAST) uses a trail on the property critical to its east-west corridor.  A conservation easement will protect trail access for these uses and maintain irreplaceable links from the village and GMHA to other trails.

If conserved, the property would join approximately 515 acres of prior conserved adjacent land to the south and east, complementing and enhancing the early 19th century brick and frame houses of South Woodstock village, which along with its Community Church and Academy buildings, gained it recognition on the National Historic Register.  A conservation easement would protect 11 acres of flat and fertile tillable farm fields along Kedron Brook, a viable, healthy trout stream.  Overall, the conserved land will continue in the character of Vermont’s working landscape for agriculture and sustainable forestry.

The sale and conservation of this property will provide benefits far beyond South Woodstock, as the owner, Plumsock Foundation, is a major benefactor to the Maya Educational Foundation that has been working with indigenous people of Central America for nearly 20 years (www.mayaedufound.org).

The August 26 closing for this project is right around the corner.  Anyone interested in making a pledge and contributing to this worthy conservation project is asked to contact cyndy@gmhainc.org, 802-457-1509, ext. 220, or peg.merrens@uvlt.org, 603-643-6626.

The Green Mountain Horse Association, founded in 1926, is a 65-acre equestrian facility in South Woodstock, Vermont.  It is a non-profit 501(3)(c) organization fully committed to serving five equine disciplines including:  trail riding, hunter/jumpers, dressage, eventing and driving.  With approximately 1,900 members, GMHA is a vital community of equestrian enthusiasts.  In addition to competitions and pleasure rides, GMHA offers many educational activities and is a leader in trail and open space preservation.  Member support helps to ensure that GMHA will continue to exist for future generations and preserve its legacy in the equestrian community.

06.17.2011 • Who Tends All Those GMHA Trails?

June 17, 2011: Outdoor enthusiasts from across the country were brought together this month to celebrate America’s magnificent trail system.  With leather gloves, chain saws, and trimmers in hand, Green Mountain Horse Association in South Woodstock celebrated its own uniquely magnificent system of equestrian trails with its first Trail Work Day of the year.

While Mother Nature’s spring rains still have many trails too wet to ride, there is plenty of maintenance to be done now and through-out the year.  Clipping back brush, tossing fallen branches, raking water bars, unplugging culverts, and cutting and clearing toppled trees provide a never ending cycle of projects.  If you are a trail rider, you understand just how vulnerable the trails are to weather’s whims.  The level of effort required to keep the trail system in good working order is impressive indeed.

The hundreds of miles of GMHA’s equestrian trails run through private and public roadways.  GMHA’s 50-60 trail volunteers include 20-30 Trail Stewards, who watch over specific trails to report maintenance issues.   “GMHA very much depends on the watchful eyes and feedback from its Trail Stewards,” says Cyndy Kozara, Trail Preservation Specialist.  “The objective is to provide horses and riders with safe passage over trails that have been maintained with environmental sensitivity in mind.”

Thanks to all the hard-working and dedicated trail volunteers who show up when needed!  Enjoy a day in the great Vermont outdoors.  Visit:  www.gmhainc.org/volunteer-opportunities.com or call 802-457-1509 to sign up, and we’ll include you in our emails.

The Green Mountain Horse Association, founded in 1926, is a 65-acre equestrian facility in South Woodstock, Vermont.  It is a non-profit 501(3)(c) organization fully committed to serving five equine disciplines including:  trail riding, hunter/jumpers, dressage, eventing and driving.  With approximately 1,900 members, GMHA is a vital community of equestrian enthusiasts.  Each event season contributes over $4 million to the local economy.  In addition to competitions and pleasure rides, GMHA offers many educational activities and is a leader in open space and trail preservation.   Member support helps to ensure that GMHA will continue to exist for future generations and preserve its legacy in the equestrian community.

05.13.2011 • GMHA Calls for Contributions for Local Conservation Project

May 13, 2011:  In the heart of South Woodstock and helping to form its scenic backdrop, a key 71-acre property on East Hill is in transition and a critical trail is at risk, one that transports riders directly from the Green Mountain Horse Association (GMHA) grounds on Morgan Hill Road to the greater trail network.  For more than a year, GMHA and the Upper Valley Land Trust (UVLT) have worked closely with Upwey Farm neighbors, Tom Debevoise and Laurie Livingston—who would take ownership of the property—as well as local businesses and community members, to raise funds necessary to purchase a perpetual conservation easement on this land.  This effort is consistent with GMHA’s recently launched Trail and Open Space Preservation Program to secure its uniquely beautiful and extensive equestrian trail system with permanent trail easements. 

When the property came on the market last year, the group of conservation partners asked the owner, Plumsock Foundation, for time to come up with a conservation solution.  GMHA then led the way with a major pledge of $100,000, reflecting not only the importance of the trail to its activities, but also its commitment to South Woodstock.  “It’s so easy to take for granted the benefits that GMHA’s members have enjoyed by riding across this property.  Losing this trail access would be a serious setback for all trail users, which is why GMHA has pledged significant resources to help make this project work,” says Executive Director, Marty Hunt.

Other businesses in the community have pledged contributions, including VAST, Birch Hill Farm, Hyacinth House, Kedron Valley Garage, Kedron Valley Stables, South Woodstock Country Store and Vermont Horse Country, Ltd.  The project has been awarded a $25,000 grant from The Byrne Foundation, which has also offered to match the next $25,000 in donations as a challenge grant.  On May 12, the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board voted to approve in full a $75,000 grant application, reflecting its enthusiastic support for the project.  To date, $383,000 has been raised with a gap of $76,950 remaining to be raised in the community by late June.

Trails throughout the property are used extensively in all seasons for hiking, snowshoeing, horseback riding and snowmobiling, as well as sleigh rides for winter visitors to local inns and businesses.  The Vermont Association of Snow Travelers (VAST) uses a trail on the property critical to its east-west corridor.  This traffic is much relied upon by the South Woodstock Country Store.  A conservation easement will protect trail access for these uses and maintain irreplaceable links from the village and GMHA to other trails. 

If conserved, the property would join approximately 515 acres of prior conserved adjacent land to the south and east, complementing and enhancing the early 19th century brick and frame houses of South Woodstock village which, along with its Community Church and Academy buildings, gained it recognition on the National Historic Register.  A conservation easement would protect 11-acres of flat and fertile tillable farm fields along Kedron Brook, a viable, healthy trout stream.  Overall, the conserved land will continue in the character of Vermont’s working landscape for agriculture and sustainable forestry, with protected multi-use trails, all contributing to the rural vitality and scenic beauty of Woodstock.

Of special note, the sale and conservation of this property will provide additional benefits far beyond South Woodstock, as the landowner, Plumsock Foundation, is a major benefactor to the Maya Educational Foundation that has been working with indigenous people of Central America for nearly 20 years (more information about this work can be found at www.mayaedufound.org).

The July 1 closing for this project is quickly approaching.  Anyone interested in making a pledge and contributing to this worthy conservation project is asked to contact cyndy@gmhainc.org, 802-457-1509, ext. 220, or peg.merrens@uvlt.org, 603-643-6626.

The Green Mountain Horse Association, founded in 1926, is a 65-acre equestrian facility in South Woodstock, Vermont.  It is a non-profit 501(3)(c) organization fully committed to serving five equine disciplines including:  trail riding, hunter/jumpers, dressage, eventing and driving.  With approximately 1,900 members, GMHA is a vital community of equestrian enthusiasts. Each event season contributes over $4 million to the local economy.  In addition to competitions and pleasure rides, GMHA offers many educational activities and is a leader in open space and trail preservation. Member support helps to ensure that GMHA will continue to exist for future generations and preserve its legacy in the equestrian community. 

03.09.2011 • Trail and Watershed Funding Awarded to GMHA

March 9, 2011: Green Mountain Horse Association (GMHA) is happy to announce that it has received funding from The Stannard and Dorothy Dunn Charitable Trust to continue its Open Space and Trail Preservation Program. GMHA began this important work one year ago. With the help of a land use consultant who works directly with local landowners, permanent trail easements are donated to secure area equestrian trails. Trail easements are effective because they replace the uncertainty of revocable "permissions" to access trails, especially as real estate listings increase during shaky economic times.

Since its founding in 1926, GMHA has sought to preserve the rural character of the local countryside. The easement document protects trail corridors from unwanted development. It is customized to meet the needs of both parties and includes a management plan addressing such things as maintenance responsibilities and trail closure. The donation process is friendly and professional and allows everyone to achieve common ground. For more information, please visit www.gmhainc.org/trailpreservation.html or call 802-457-1509.

To help provide responsible watershed stewardship, GMHA applied for and received funding to improve several stream crossings on the Kedron Brook, which runs through its property. During its busy event season, horses and riders cross the brook in several places. Funding awarded through the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets and the Agency of Natural Resources SFY 2010 Livestock Exclusion Grant, will allow GMHA to improve the slopes of the approaches to these crossings. Geo-textile fabric will be installed and covered with appropriate footing material to create optimal drainage conditions and reduce erosion.

The Livestock Exclusion Grant helps to reduce the amount of phosphorus and sediment entering surface water. Livestock includes bovine and equine species, and implementation includes fencing, alternative watering systems, and stream crossings. To discuss potential projects, please contact Laura DiPietro at laura.dipietro@state.vt.us.

The Green Mountain Horse Association, founded in 1926, is a 65-acre equestrian facility in South Woodstock, Vermont. It is a non-profit 501(3)(c) organization fully committed to serving five equine disciplines including: trail riding, hunter/jumpers, dressage, eventing and driving. With approximately 1,900 members, GMHA is a vital community of equestrian enthusiasts. Each event season contributes over $4 million to the local economy. In addition to competitions and pleasure rides, GMHA offers many educational activities and is a leader in open space and trail preservation. Member support helps to ensure that GMHA will continue to exist for future generations and preserve its legacy in the equestrian community.

03.09.2011 • Be a Part of the Action: Become a GMHA Volunteer!

March 9, 2011: Green Mountain Horse Association (GMHA) invites you to become a volunteer during our exciting and fast-paced event season. Get a front row seat for some of the most thrilling equestrian events in New England! GMHA needs volunteers for a variety of events—we have jobs for all ages and abilities—no experience is necessary.

GMHA is located on Route 106 in South Woodstock, Vermont. Our events take place nearly every weekend from May to October. All volunteers receive a tasty meal, thank you gift, and an entry for our year-end raffle!

Upcoming Events through May:

  • April 16: 15-Mile Mud Ride & Drive
  • April 17: Pleasure Ride & 15-Mile Conditioning Distance Ride
  • April 30: Cross-Country Schooling & Dressage Critique Day
  • May 1: Schooling Show & Cross-Country Schooling
  • May 14: Driving Combined Test
  • May 15: Arena Driving Trial
  • May 21-22: Spring Hunter/Jumper Show
  • May 27-29: Memorial Day Ride

Interested? Call Us! 802-457-1509 or email: gmha@gmhainc.org or visit our website: www.gmhainc.org/volunteer-opportunities.html for Frequenty Asked Questions about volunteering.

The Green Mountain Horse Association, founded in 1926, is a 65-acre equestrian facility in South Woodstock, Vermont. It is a non-profit 501(3)(c) organization fully committed to serving five equine disciplines including: trail riding, hunter/jumpers, dressage, eventing and driving. With approximately 1,900 members, GMHA is a vital community of equestrian enthusiasts. Each event season contributes over $4 million to the local economy. In addition to competitions and pleasure rides, GMHA offers many educational activities and is a leader in open space and trail preservation. Member support helps to ensure that GMHA will continue to exist for future generations and preserve its legacy in the equestrian community.

03.09.2011 • 2011 Winter Ed Series at GMHA

March 9, 2011: South Woodstock's Green Mountain Horse Association (GMHA) began its 2011 Winter Educational Series on Saturday, March 5, with a Distance Trail Riding Clinic. Over 55 registrants, panelists and presenters converged in the Roger and Anna Ela Youth Center to participate in a day of helpful information and active dialogue. Slypner Gear donated door prizes and provided a tack and equipment display.

Seasoned competitive trail and endurance riders Ellen Tully and Jenny Kimberly discussed the definition, background and history of competitive trail, endurance and conditioning distance rides. They brought in their own tack and equipment for demonstration, shared useful advice and fielded many questions. Bruce Hickey, a farrier for 24 years with trail horses as his specialty, shared his knowledge of and experience with the best shoeing options available and took questions. Cyndy Kozara, a land use consultant working with landowners on the donation of trail easements, explained GMHA's work to secure trails so that the sport of trail

A panel discussion took place after a delicious buffet lunch prepared by Travelin' Willy B's. Connie Walker, an active distance riding competitor since 1986, talked about "real life" and her approach to conditioning a horse. For the veterinary perspective, Dr. Heather Hoyns, DVM and owner of Evergreen Equine in West Windsor, gave the audience a wealth of information to take home. Jeff Gardener, a more recent addition to the sport, discussed getting started and involving family members, followed by Jenny Kimberly on the many benefits of cross-training.

On March 19, GMHA and Vermont Technical College will present "Creating Healthy Equine Relationships" at the Rough Terrain Farm in Randolph, Vermont, from 12 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Cost is $10 for GMHA members and $15 for non-members. Instructors include longtime equestrian educator, Lori Berger and Natalie Jarnis, barn manager, from Vermont Technical College, and Jessy Stewart Riley, member of the American Quarter Horse Association Professional Horsemen. For more information, contact Lori Berger at (802) 889-3242 or lberger@vtc.edu or visit the GMHA website: www.gmhainc.org.

The Green Mountain Horse Association, founded in 1926, is a 65-acre equestrian facility in South Woodstock, Vermont. It is a non-profit 501(3)(c) organization fully committed to serving five equine disciplines including: trail riding, hunter/jumpers, dressage, eventing and driving. With approximately 1,900 members, GMHA is a vital community of equestrian enthusiasts. Each event season contributes over $4 million to the local economy. In addition to competitions and pleasure rides, GMHA offers many educational activities and is a leader in open space and trail preservation. Member support helps to ensure that GMHA will continue to exist for future generations and preserve its legacy in the equestrian community.

02.26.2011 • VAST "Snowdeo" held at GMHA

February 26, 2011: With ten inches of freshly fallen snow on the ground, the Vermont Association of Snow Travelers, Inc. (VAST) held its 1st Annual Groomer Demo Day on Saturday, February 26. The well attended event was held at the Green Mountain Horse Association (GMHA) grounds in South Woodstock. Manufacturers representing Maxey Drags, Mountain Grooming Equipment, Pisten Bully, Prinoth, and Tucker Sno-Cat demonstrated the latest in grooming equipment. Some attendees also enjoyed the local trails on their snowmobiles.

"This was an exciting opportunity to work with GMHA in coordinating a special event for our local clubs that have trail grooming equipment. GMHA has been a long- time supporter of snowmobiling and hosts VAST trails on its property. We are very grateful for their generosity," said Alexis Nelson, Trails Administrator for VAST, "We also appreciate the use of the Birch Hill Farm property for our event." The Long Hill Snowmobile Club hosted a hot food lunch for participants as a fund raiser.

To help secure recreational trails for the future, GMHA and VAST collaborate on trail conservation projects of mutual interest, particularly those with critical corridors. Because the use of trails by snowmobiles occurs only during the winter months, it is considered to be compatible with equestrian use of trails, which takes place during most of the remaining year. To learn how you can preserve a trail, please visit: www.gmhainc.org/trailpreservation or call 802-457-1509, ext. 220.

The Green Mountain Horse Association, founded in 1926, is a 65-acre equestrian facility in South Woodstock, Vermont. It is a non-profit 501(3)(c) organization fully committed to serving five equine disciplines including: trail riding, hunter/jumpers, dressage, eventing and driving. With approximately 1,900 members, GMHA is a vital community of equestrian enthusiasts. Each event season contributes over $4 million to the local economy. In addition to competitions and pleasure rides, GMHA offers many educational activities and is a leader in open space and trail preservation. Member support helps to ensure that GMHA will continue to exist for future generations and preserve its legacy in the equestrian community.

02.15.2011 • Equestrian Trails Donated to GMHA

February 15, 2011: The year has taken off in style with the signing of another trail easement. South Woodstock resident Clover Durfee, of Randall Road, has donated two existing trails and a proposed extension. These trails connect Randall Road to Church Hill Road and other neighboring trails.

Originally from Hastings-on-the-Hudson, New York, Clover's parents retired to this area and purchased the 32-acre property, where she stabled her Morgan horse. Clover joined GMHA's membership in 1943, participated in the 100-mile ride and has enjoyed riding the area's many trails. In 1990, she became the sole owner of the property, which is managed for forestry under Current Use.

When asked about her reasons for donating these trails, Clover states, "Well, why not? It's a privilege to share my bit of South Woodstock with others who love horses and trail riding in beautiful, unspoiled Vermont."

Juniper Trail, Route 66 Trail, and the proposed extension, wind gently through stonewalls, junipers, old maples and white and red pine. GMHA trail crews will work to open the extension this year as soil conditions permit.

"It has been a real pleasure working with Cyndy on my easement. She is personable and thorough, and as we first met in the early 90s, it has been fun to reconnect in this way. I encourage other landowners to pick up the phone and donate more trails."

To learn how to take the first step to donate a trail easement to GMHA, visit: www.gmhainc.org/trailpreservation or call 802-457-1509, ext. 220.

The Green Mountain Horse Association, founded in 1926, is a 65-acre equestrian facility in South Woodstock, Vermont. It is a non-profit 501(3)(c) organization fully committed to serving five equine disciplines including: trail riding, hunter/jumpers, dressage, eventing and driving. With approximately 1,900 members, GMHA is a vital community of equestrian enthusiasts. Each event season contributes over $4 million to the local economy. In addition to competitions and pleasure rides, GMHA offers many educational activities and is a leader in open space and trail preservation. Member support helps to ensure that GMHA will continue to exist for future generations and preserve its legacy in the equestrian community.

12.27.2010 • GMHA Awarded Funding for Trail Preservation Program

December 27, 2010: Green Mountain Horse Association recently received a $10,000 grant from the Davis Conservation Foundation to continue its Open Space and Trail Preservation Program for a second year. Cyndy Kozara, a local land use consultant, was hired in March to spearhead this rigorous two-year effort. The funding will help to support her work to preserve and secure the GMHA equestrian trail network for future generations of horse riders to experience and enjoy.

GMHA has a long-standing dedication to the preservation of countryside and working landscapes. To fulfill its mission in the face of increased property turnover and potentially fragmented land parcels, GMHA has strengthened its resources to protect trails into perpetuity through the use of specialized trail easements. GMHA works directly with landowners to identify individual concerns and mutual values, define and map the trail or trails to be donated and customize the legal document. This includes a management plan addressing responsibilities of parties, erosion and maintenance, trail closure and more. The process is friendly and professional and allows everyone to achieve common ground.

In the last year, GMHA has finalized three trail easements, with another soon to be completed, three more in various stages of the process and several strong potential opportunities in hand. As landowners continue to learn more about this important program of land conservation undertaken at GMHA, they become excited about the legacy they might leave. They understand the part it plays in keeping GMHA so vital to the community in which they live.

For more information about the GMHA trail easement, please visit our website at: www.gmhainc.org/trailpreservation or call us at 802-457-1509, ext. 220.

The Green Mountain Horse Association, founded in 1926, is a 65-acre equestrian facility in South Woodstock, Vermont. It is a non-profit 501(3)(c) organization fully committed to serving five equine disciplines including: trail riding, hunter/jumpers, dressage, eventing and driving. With approximately 1,900 members, GMHA is a vital community of equestrian enthusiasts. Each event season contributes over $4 million to the local economy. In addition to competitions and pleasure rides, GMHA offers many educational activities and is a leader in open space and trail preservation. Member support helps to ensure that GMHA will continue to exist for future generations and preserve its legacy in the equestrian community.

12.21.2010 • GMHA Awarded Funding for Youth Education Programs

GMHA Awarded Funding for Youth Education Programs

December 21, 2010: Green Mountain Horse Association is pleased to announce that it has received $15,000 from the Chichester duPont Foundation to continue youth program scholarships for applicants with financial need. GMHA has earmarked this funding to help young riders attend our Junior Horsemanship Clinic, which will attain its 55th year in the 2011. These funds will also support our Working Student program and Competition Scholarships. During these challenging economic times, GMHA is especially thankful to be able to offer this assistance, which will allow many young riders to continue their equestrian pursuits.

The Junior Horsemanship Clinic, which is the premier eventing camp in New England, caters to young riders, ages 9-17. The camp offers a horsemanship and eventing-based curriculum, but the skills taught are applicable to many equestrian disciplines. Clinic Co-Directors Jim and Suzi Gornall will be returning to camp for the seventh season.

GMHA’s existing scholarship program, which awards approximately $3,000 to campers each season, allows scholarships to be used towards camp tuition, housing costs and horse leases for those who do not have their own mounts. Scholarships are awarded on a rolling basis, allowing families to make their summer plans and camp arrangements in a timely way. The scholarship deadline is May 1, 2011. Scholarship awards will be based on financial need as well as the quality and completeness of the application. Letters of recommendation are encouraged but not required. For more details, please download a scholarship application from our website at www.gmhainc.org.

Potential campers are strongly encouraged to send in their scholarship applications as soon as possible. Please contact June Hamel at june@gmhainc.org or (802)457-1509, ext. 207, with questions regarding the Junior Horsemanship Clinic.

The Green Mountain Horse Association, founded in 1926, is a 65-acre equestrian facility in South Woodstock, Vermont. It is a non-profit 501(3)(c) organization fully committed to serving five equine disciplines including: trail riding, hunter/jumpers, dressage, eventing and driving. With approximately 1,900 members, GMHA is a vital community of equestrian enthusiasts. In addition to competitions and pleasure rides, GMHA offers many educational activities and is a leader in land and trail preservation. Member support helps to ensure that GMHA will continue to exist for future generations and preserve its legacy in the equestrian community.

07.07.2010 • Equestrian Trail Easements: Fact and Fiction

July 7, 2010: Article for Valley News: "Equestrian Trail Easements: Fact and Fiction:" Green Mountain Horse Association now has an online resource for anyone wanting information about the details of donating an equestrian trail. Web pages created for Trail and Open Space Preservation can be accessed from the GMHA home page or www.gmhainc.org/trailpreservation.html. The easy-to-navigate resource explains the impetus behind the organization’s commitment to preserve its equestrian trail system and provides a comprehensive list of “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQs) about trail easements, an archive of related press releases and contact information.

GMHA is working with landowners to secure permanent equestrian trails that will not be lost when property turns over or subdivided for development. With the new online resource, GMHA seeks to dispel the mystery of the legal document and whatever fears landowners may have regarding liability and other concerns. For example, the Vermont statute for landowner liability was rewritten in 1998 to encourage landowners to open their lands to recreational users. It gives them greater legal protection from personal injury or property damage. A link to the complete statute is provided in the FAQs, and GMHA can put interested landowners in touch with those who have already taken the step to donate.

Currently, GMHA members, event participants and guests have access to most trails because of permissions from individual landowners. That approach has served well in the past as land often remained in the hands of one family over long periods of time. However, that culture has changed, making simple permissions more vulnerable and calling for a new process that offers stability.

The rewards of a permanent easement are many. Not only is the trail system made moresecure for future generations of equine recreation (and other types if the landowner so chooses), this connectivity of open space provides protected corridors for wildlife and maintains scenic aesthetic values as well. The easement document also assures that trails will be well maintained. Finally, when a landowner donates an equestrian trail, they become part of an 84-year-old legacy—and that can be a very profound and rewarding experience.

A trail easement offers a good alternative to posting an entire parcel of land, one that gives landowners everything they need to ensure the enjoyment of their property and privacy and also preserves a traditional outdoor experience for others.

05.08.2010 • Trail User Groups Convene at GMHA

May 8, 2010: Members from recreational groups that share trails in the South Woodstock, West Windsor, Reading, and Hartland area convened at Green Mountain Horse Association on May 3 to discuss its trail preservation program. Groups included North Country Hounds, Vermont Equine Riding and Driving Association, Upper Valley Land Trust, Vermont Association of Snow Travelers, Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports, and Sport Trails of Ascutney Basin. It was the first of many anticipated meetings to build ongoing partnerships that will serve to keep trails open for a long time to come.

Peter Campot, President of GMHA’s Board of Directors, addressed the gathering, “GMHA is committed to serving as a steward to preserve and maintain the trail system, and it does not expect to be the sole leader. We enthusiastically encourage other trail users and towns to obtain and hold easements. GMHA welcomes input from our trail partners to further mutual objectives, the most important being keeping the trails open.” GMHA’s land use attorney, Annette Lorraine, was on hand to explain the GMHA’s flexible easement language, which is customized to suit the requirements of each landowner donating a trail easement. It borrows language from State statute to promote and protect the mission of GMHA members. The easement does not prohibit other uses, and a landowner can open the same trail to other groups for uses compatible with equestrian use if they choose. Other groups can layer their own easements onto that of GMHA, and GMHA strongly encourages such collaboration. It was agreed that some portions of the easement could be made clearer and easier to understand.

Groups asked about multi-use easements, when more than one group is listed on the same easement. Lorraine explained that it is possible to have multiple entities on one easement but can be problematic because one group does not want to be responsible for another group’s liabilities. Groups would need to contact their insurance companies and attorneys to be sure that kind of liability was covered.

Another question raised was the closing of trails by GMHA. Lorraine clarified that when GMHA holds an easement, it uses “best practices” to decide whether conditions are or are not favorable for equestrian use. It can choose to close trails to its members and event riders whenever it is likely such use will significantly damage trails, conditions may be unsafe or for any other reason that equestrian use is inappropriate. It is only temporarily “relinquishing GMHA’s rights to use the trail” until trail conditions improve. It does not restrict use by other trail user groups that have secured separate permissions or easements from the landowner to use the trail.

As the meeting wrapped up, it was agreed that future meetings should be convened at least twice a year to stay connected, maintain goodwill and cooperation among groups to accomplish the same goal: keeping the trails open.

GMHA now has new web pages devoted to Open Space Planning and Trail Preservation. They include “FAQs” on GMHA’s trail easement and process. To read about them, visit: www.gmhainc.org

The Green Mountain Horse Association, founded in 1926, is a 65-acre equestrian facility in South Woodstock, Vermont. It is a non-profit 501(3)(c) organization fully committed to serving five equine disciplines including: trail riding, hunter/jumpers, dressage, eventing and driving. With approximately 1,500 members, GMHA is a vital community of equestrian enthusiasts. In addition to competitions and pleasure rides, GMHA offers many educational activities and is a leader in land and trail preservation. Member support helps to ensure that GMHA will continue to exist for future generations and preserve its legacy in the equestrian community.

04.23.2010 • GMHA Holds Meeting to Discuss Kedron Brook Water Quality

April 23, 2010: Thirty landowners from Woodstock Village to South Woodstock attended an April 15 meeting hosted by the Green Mountain Horse Association (GMHA) in partnership with the Ottauquechee Natural Resources Conservation District (ONRCD) to discuss water quality impairments in the Kedron Brook.

The Kedron Brook is a tributary of the Ottauquechee River, which along with the Black River, forms Basin 10. It is on the list of “waters in need of further assessment,” which means the State has concerns regarding sediment, nutrients, and E.coli. Sources are most likely agricultural uses, dog waste, road runoff, loss of riparian vegetation, and chemicals used on the Woodstock Inn and Resort golf course. If the brook continues to show impairments, it will be placed on the EPA list that would require severe restrictions on land use and involve all landowners along the brook. This may be avoided if proactive efforts are begun now.

Marie Levesque-Caduto, Watershed Coordinator with the Agency of Natural Resources described the Basin 10 planning process, and Sylvia Harris, Agricultural Resource Specialist/Basin Planner for ONRCD, reviewed the Agricultural Section of the Basin Plan. Attendees engaged in lively discussion of the issues and offered suggestions for action to be included in the Plan. Many signed up to help collect water samples for testing in Waterbury. The evening clearly demonstrated how important the Kedron Brook is to local landowners.

The Green Mountain Horse Association, a 65-acre equestrian facility in South Woodstock, Vermont, is a non-profit 501(3)(c) organization fully committed to serving our five equine disciplines including: trail riding, hunter/jumpers, dressage, eventing and driving. With approximately 1,900 members, GMHA is a vital community of equestrian enthusiasts. In addition to competitions and pleasure rides, GMHA offers many educational activities and is a leader in trail preservation and land preservation. Member support helps to ensure that GMHA will continue to exist for future generations and preserves its legacy in the equestrian community. www.gmhainc.org.

03.17.2010 • Trail Preservation Specialist at GMHA

March 17, 2010: The Green Mountain Horse Association (GMHA) is pleased to announce the addition of a Trail Preservation Specialist to focus exclusively on the expansion of its equestrian trail network.  The GMHA Board of Directors has recently re-affirmed the organization’s commitment to trails and land preservation and to dedicate the resources necessary to assure the attainment of trail easement goals for the next two years and beyond.

Cyndy Kozara of Woodstock, Vermont, has been hired to develop and implement an aggressive but realistic plan to secure a number of new easements by the end of 2011. GMHA recorded an easement through its own property in February 2009 and received an easement in December 2009 from West Windsor landowner, Linda Johnson. Easements with other interested landowners are in various stages of progress, and renewed efforts for outreach and education to generate more participation is planned.  Kozara will strengthen partnerships with local, regional and State conservation, preservation and related organizations to help further the goals of the program. She will also help to identify fundraising opportunities to sustain the GMHA easement program and trail maintenance fund.

“I feel so lucky to be working with GMHA at this point in my career.  Having been consumed with a love for horses and wild places since my earliest memory, helping to conserve beautiful land for equestrian trails brings me full circle with two of my deepest passions. The easement process—from initial landowner contact to signing the final legal document—can take quite a bit of time, and I’m eager to get going with this urgent work.”

Kozara earned a Master of Studies in Environmental Law from Vermont Law School, where she worked in the Environmental Law Center for nine years.  She served as a regional planner for seven years with the Southern Windsor County Regional Planning Commission, focusing primarily on community development, rural land use planning and the management of its watershed and basin planning program.

Her planning experience has extended globally to environmental justice issues.She has spent time in Bangladesh assessing arsenic contamination in rural water supplies and has collaborated with a Toronto consulting group to help strengthen the role of civil society in Tajikistan.

Peter Campot, President of the GMHA Board states, “We have been talking about this for a long time, and with our Capital Campaign behind us, the Board wanted to be sure we didn’t forget our commitment to identifying and preserving the trails, which is the primary reason that GMHA was founded over 80 years ago.  Adding this position to the staff effort that we already have will ensure that we can speed up our efforts and ultimately, our results.”

A trail easement is a perpetual legal agreement that allows others to use someone’s land in the manner provided for within the easement.  An easement can be very broad, granting access to the easement holder and the public or it can restrict what kind of access, when and under what conditions access can be used.  For example, an easement can be for equestrian use only or also hiking, biking, and snowmobiling. Management plans are created by both parties to clearly outline and agree upon maintenance responsibilities, which can be assigned to one of the parties or both. Vermont law encourages private landowners to allow public access by helping to limit landowners’ liability in the event of an injury.  The law says a landowner shall not be liable for personal injury or property damage of a recreational user so long as the landowner did not cause the injury by intentional or extremely reckless misconduct. For landowners to be protected by this statute, they may not charge fees for the access.

Landowners wanting more information and/or interested in donating a trail easement are encouraged to call Cyndy at 802-457-1509, extension 220, or email cyndy@gmhainc.org to learn more about our land preservation work.

The Green Mountain Horse Association (GMHA) was founded in 1926, when a small group of riders wanted to promote the use of horses, provide facilities for horse shows and activities, and develop and maintain bridle trails in Vermont.  At that time, GMHA was part of a trail network that stretched for thousands of miles from Canada through Vermont to Massachusetts.  Today, large numbers of trails have been lost due to property transfers, development, increasing population and other barriers.  GMHA has a network of woodland trails and country roads which covers hundreds of miles and connects fourteen towns in Windsor County.

The Green Mountain Horse Association, a 65-acre equestrian facility in South Woodstock, Vermont, is a non-profit 501(3)(c) organization fully committed to serving our five equine disciplines including:  trail riding, hunter/jumpers, dressage, eventing and driving. For more information about our programs, please visit www.gmhainc.org.

With approximately 1,500 members, GMHA is a vital community of equestrian enthusiasts.  In addition to competitions and pleasure rides, GMHA offers many educational activities and is a leader in trail preservation and land preservation.  Member support helps to ensure that GMHA will continue to exist for future generations and preserves its legacy in the equestrian community.

03.15.2010 • Second Annual GMHA Trails Conservation Summit

March 15, 2010: To kick off GMHA’s renewed commitment to open space planning and trails conservation, the Second Annual Trail Conservation Summit was held on March 13. With mud season in full swing, 32 attendees converged for a four-member panel discussion and information exchange. Jill Helmer, Co-chair of the Landowner Ambassador Committee began the day by welcoming the group, and Debbie Donahue, Trails Coordinator, provided a background of trail preservation efforts and importance.  She also introduced new Trail Easement Specialist, Cyndy Kozara, who told the gathering: “Knowing how many miles of trails have been lost to development since the founding of GMHA in 1926 really puts my job in perspective. There is much work to be done and the first step is to set priorities for the most important linkages. With Debbie’s guidance, I look forward to getting acquainted with the land and landowners.”

A well-balanced quartet of speakers carried the day. Annette Lorraine, Attorney and Land Consultant, provides GMHA with legal assistance on its easements.  She returned again this year to debunk the nuances of conservation easements and fielded questions about working with land trusts and landowner liability.  She also explained how trail easements differ from conservation easements because there are no federal tax credits for them and that trail easements are often overlaid on already conserved land.

Whitney Beals, Conservation Specialist with New England Forestry Foundation (NEFF), described ways in which it promotes conservation and sustainable management of private forestland. He also talked about land transactions, easement stewardship and monitoring, legacy giving, and important community benefits of forest conservation such as protection of wildlife habitat and recreational open space.<

Frank Moore, a West Windsor landowner whose property abuts that of NEFF, has conserved his land with them as well. He shared his personal experience with the changing countryside, the insidious nature of subdivision and new development, equestrian safety concerns due to increased traffic speeds on local roads and the urgent need to face these challenges.

Patrick Bartlett, Forester and Wildlife Consultant, presented information on Current Use and the upcoming changes to that program. He also discussed techniques for developing proper equestrian trails through managed woodlots, such correct design for water bars and culverts, proper signage to prevent trail damage during wet season and the preferred use of conservation mix over wood chips on trails. Clover in conservation mix grows and mows well, attracts insects and then songbirds, setting the stage for a succession of wildlife. After lunch, Pat led a tree pruning demonstration to wrap up the day’s events.

Landowners wanting more information and/or interested in donating a trail easement are encouraged to call GMHA at 802-457-1509, extension 220 to talk with Cyndy Kozara or email her at cyndy@gmhainc.org.

The Green Mountain Horse Association, a 65-acre equestrian facility in South Woodstock, Vermont, is a non-profit 501(3)(c) organization fully committed to serving our five equine disciplines including: trail riding, hunter/jumpers, dressage, eventing and driving.

With approximately 1,500 members, GMHA is a vital community of equestrian enthusiasts.  In addition to competitions and pleasure rides, GMHA offers many educational activities and is a leader in trail preservation and land preservation.  Member support helps to ensure that GMHA will continue to exist for future generations and preserves its legacy in the equestrian community.

02.15.2010 • GMHA to Host Trail Conservation Summit

February 15, 2010: The Green Mountain Horse Association (GMHA) will host a day-long program on conservation of land and trails on Saturday, March 13. The informational session is open to landowners, equestrians, snowmobilers, mountain bikers, hikers, skiers and others interested in learning more about conservation of land and trails. Topics will span the legalities of land and trail conservation, forest management, current use, wildlife habitat, trail building and maintenance. There will be a workshop on tree and apple tree pruning. This summit is offered free of charge as part of GMHA’s Winter Educational Series.

Leading the program will be Annette Lorraine, attorney and consultant in land and trail conservation, Whitney Beals, a conservation specialist with the New England Forestry Foundation (NEFF), and Pat Bartlett, forester and wildlife consultant.

Registration is at 8:30 AM, and the program will end at 2:00PM. Lunch is available for $15.00 per person. Reservations in advance are requested. Please call GMHA at (802) 457-1509 or e-mail ddonahue@gmhainc.org to register. To view schedule go to http://www.gmhainc.org/clinics.html

The Green Mountain Horse Association, a 65 acre equestrian facility in South Woodstock, Vermont non-profit 501 (3)(c) organization fully committed to equine activities including:  Trail Riding, Hunter/Jumper Shows, Dressage Shows, Horse Trials and Driving Events.

With approximately 2,000 members, GMHA is vital community of equestrian enthusiasts.

Our members’ support helps to ensure that GMHA, will continue to exist for generations to come and preserves our legacy in the equestrian community with horsemanship clinics, educational activities, trail stewardship and preservation.

12.12.2009 • Trail Easement Granted to GMHA

December 17, 2009: The Green Mountain Horse Association is pleased to announce that we have received a trail easement from landowner Linda Johnson granting the organization use of a trail on her West Windsor property. The easement was signed in the GMHA offices in South Woodstock, VT, on December 15, 2010 by Johnson and GMHA Executive Director, Marty Hunt. Paul Kendall, longtime GMHA supporter and former Board Member, notarized the document, which was recorded in the town office later that day. The event was celebrated with the GMHA Trail Committee and staff, who enthusiastically toasted the acquisition.

Linda Johnson, a supporter of GMHA for many years, was eager to place the easement on her West Windsor, Vermont property in order to keep the trails open to equestrians. Johnson’s property, which occupies 26 scenic acres on Banister Road in the heart of horse country, is currently listed for sale.“I’d like to think that the next owner of this property would enjoy horses as much as I do, but you never know,” said Johnson. “I hope that other landowners will take this same precaution and consider granting easements, whether to GMHA or other conservation groups.” Linda, a longtime GMHA Member, supporter, and equestrian enthusiast, considered GMHA the obvious choice to receive the easement.

The easement’s purpose was clearly defined and easily agreed upon by both Linda and GMHA. The goals for creating the easement included several aspects.  First, the creation of the easement provides permanent equestrian recreational and transitory use for GMHA’s members and event participants, in a scenic and natural environment. As Johnson’s largely open property affords spectacular views of Mount Ascutney, the Connecticut River Valley, and beyond, it gives equestrians an ideal place to enjoy all that the rolling Vermont hills have to offer.

Another of Johnson’s goals was to promote and celebrate traditional equestrian trail use in the region, which has become a part of the local culture for many residents. Johnson herself moved from Connecticut to Vermont in 2005 to become part of the unique equestrian community. Since then Johnson, a well known hostess, has been known to greet local equestrian friends passing through her trails with a friendly wave, big smile, and refreshments from her porch for both humans and equines. Johnson is planning to stay in the area, but purchase a smaller property when her home sells.

The easement gives GMHA use of a 26’ wide corridor which begins on Banister Road and follows Johnson’s driveway, then splits off in two directions, ending at the abutting Gaynor and Stone properties. GMHA and Johnson will collaborate on a management plan each year, and will share responsibilities for maintaining the trail. The easement connects Banister Road, a popular area for horseback riding and conditioning, to the trails on the Gaynor and Stone property and beyond. The location of the easement will prove invaluable for both GMHA and local equestrians, easily fulfilling another goal of the easement: to link this trail with others in the vicinity.

When GMHA was founded in 1926, bridle trails stretched from Massachusetts to Vermont. The organization’s mission tasked future generations with developing and maintaining bridle trails, which has been an uphill endeavor through the years with many land sales and subdivisions, an increasing population, and other cultural roadblocks.  GMHA’s Board of Directors recently re-affirmed the organization’s commitment to trails and preservation, and decided to dedicate more resources to securing easements.

“The entire organization, including our Board, staff, and members, are truly committed to preserving, protecting, and maintaining the trails network that surrounds GMHA. The trail system, which covers hundreds of miles, and five area towns, is what makes GMHA and Windsor Country truly unique,” said Executive Director Marty Hunt.  “We are incredibly lucky to have dedicated, generous landowners like Linda who support this effort. They deserve all of our thanks!”

GMHA Trails Coordinator Deborah Donahue, who worked closely with Linda Johnson on her easement, is confident that there are more easements in GMHA’s future. “GMHA is currently working with several other landowners in our area who are interested in granting easements, several of which are pending and very near completion.  We hope that there are many more announcements like this to come.” “For the last five years, we have been working hard to secure open space and preserve equestrian access to the trails, and now we are seeing those efforts begin to pay off with signed easements.  It is a really exciting time for GMHA,” said Deborah Donahue. GMHA recorded a trail easement through its own property in February 2009. This trail, which is used by snowmobiles in the winter, runs from Morgan Hill Road through the length of the property and connects with Route 106.

The Green Mountain Horse Association, a 65-acre equestrian facility in South Woodstock, Vermont, is a non-profit 501 (3)(c) organization fully committed to serving our five equine disciplines including: Trail Riding, Hunter/Jumpers, Dressage, Eventing and Driving.

With approximately 1,500 members, GMHA is a vital community of equestrian enthusiasts. In addition to competitions and pleasure rides, GMHA offers many educational activities and is a leader in trail stewardship and land preservation. Member support helps to ensure that GMHA will continue to exist for future generations and preserves its legacy in the equestrian community.

03.05.2014 • 2014 Barn Grant Awarded to GMHA

The Vermont Division of Historic Preservation has awarded a $15,000 matching Barn Grant to Green Mountain Horse Association to help finance roof replacement (Phase II) on the historic Upwey Barn.  The work is to be completed in 2015.  The roof work on this large structure has been divided into three phases and replacement is currently proceeding this winter on Phase I.

Owen Moon, Jr. established Upwey Farms in 1910 when he purchased the Larned Kendall farm in South Woodstock.  Throughout the years he purchased and consolidated several surrounding farms into a large country estate.  Upwey Farms grew into one of Vermont’s most important gentleman stock farms, and Mr. Moon became the country’s leading breeder of Morgan and Suffolk Punch horses.  GMHA’s Upwey Barn is significant architecturally as an example of a ground-level stable barn with an attached indoor riding ring.  It is also significant historically for its association with Owen Moon, Jr. and his stock breeding program.

The main barn was built in 1937 and the indoor riding ring was built in 1939.  The main barn contains horse stalls and a hay mow, formerly used as a gymnasium by the Woodstock Country School.  From 1956-1980, the Upwey Farms estate housed the Woodstock Country School, a private boarding school.  The Upwey Barn was converted into classrooms and educational program space for the school, but the majority of these alterations have since been removed and the building returned to its original function as a horse barn.

According to research conducted by Vermont’s Division for Historic Preservation, the Moon’s house and related barns were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.  The “Upwey Farms Horse Complex,” which includes GMHA’s Upwey Barn was listed on the State Register of Historic Places in 2009.

At the conclusion of GMHA’s 2006-2009 Capital Campaign, renovations were made to the Upwey Barn to expand and diversify its use.  Improvements to the lower level include the Roger Maher Visitor Center, officially opened in 2010, showcasing a rich archive of photographs, books, reference materials and other memorabilia from GMHA’s early years.  The videotaped oral histories of long-time GMHA members in 2013 will be stored there and added to over time.

Top