HORSE riders who use the Corinella and Coronet Bay foreshores have launched an emotional appeal to Bass Coast Shire councillors to leave the beaches unrestricted for horses.
At a Community Connection Session on Wednesday, Coronet Bay resident and horse rider Katie McDowall spoke briefly on the importance of allowing horses on the beach.
But she gave most of her 15 minute session to her fellow horse riders, most of whom are still in school, because she said it was about them and their future.
The presentations follow months of angst between local horse riders and beach-goers, with the latter keen to see horses kept off the beach.
At the Community Connection Session, 15-year-old Stephanie Lee talked about her Quarter Horse ‘Billy’.
“When I come home from school and have been feeling stressed, my mum always makes the time to do my favourite thing in the world; take Billy to the beach,” Stephanie told councillors.
She rarely sees more than two or three other families with their horses at the beach, at the end of Norsemens Road, Coronet Bay.
She fears time restrictions for horses, limiting them to only going on the beach during certain times, could make it busier.
“If you restrict our access to the beach, I am frightened that I will never get to go when my mum can take me,” she said.
“People with horses do not take their horses out that are not under control. We love them too much to risk them getting away from us, so you will find that we always have great control over our horses.”
High school student Sianan Price called on councillors to leave the car park open for horse floats and said horse riders would adhere to any sensible management plan.
Cr Bruce Kent asked Sianan how often the Phillip Island Pony Club goes to the beach and she told him they go once a year, but noted there are plans to go more often in the future.
Coronet Bay and Corinella residents had raised issues with council about the number of horse floats parked on Norsemens Road, as well as safety and noise concerns, and access to the beach.
Wendy Christensen from the Phillip Island Pony Club told councillors the club has 12 members, and they would be split into two groups at the beach.
Katie McDowall’s horse Dove has laminitis, an inflammation in the hoof, and she said the salt water has helped heal her horse.
She said if a rumoured four to six week ban for horses over summer comes into place, it would be detrimental to her horse’s health.
Katie said if something has to change, then ideally it would be a permit system with no time restrictions, citing issues around horse riders wanting to go to the beach during high tide.
She added that the beach could be deemed a recreational horse beach, banning racehorses from galloping on the beach.
A report will be tabled at council’s ordinary meeting on Wednesday, June 21 into introducing a local law permit system placing controls on the parking of horse floats, time restrictions, and horse access to the beach at the end of Norsemens Road, Coronet Bay.