5,000 sign petition to save horse riders' rights to trot on Hayling Island beach
Complaints have included people riding with no hard hats, bareback riding, jumping groynes, and riding at speed in crowded areas.
Others include riders failing to clear up after their animals, riding outside of permitted times and areas, including in a bathing zone, and horseboxes causing congestion in car parks.
In just two weeks nearly 5,600 people have signed an online petition arguing the beach is for ‘everyone to share’ and the sight of horses creates ‘magical memories’.
Among them is Vicki Humphreys, 38, who enjoys taking her 12-year-old Knabstrupper named Dottie to the beach.
‘It’s just somewhere lovely to go where you can just ride in a different environment,’ said Vicki, who travels down from near Reading.
‘The overall consensus has been very much that it’s a minority of riders that are spoiling it for the majority.
‘The majority are fully aware there are times during the summer we cannot go.
‘I think the big issue was that people are not sticking to the times.’
Vicki, who also rides her seven-year-old stallion Ferdi at the beach, added:, ‘I think the most upfront thing is that the horse-riding community is as upset with the people breaking the rules as the people who made the complaints.
‘It would be a dreadful shame if those few people ruined it for everybody.’
Horse riders say Hayling is big enough for distancing, and their animals galloping in the sand gives a beautiful sight for people out walking.
Riders are allowed on the beach before 10am and after 7pm.
Posting on the petition, Martina Dawson said: ‘There are already restrictions on one of the few places you can ride a horse on the beach.
‘People can go to another beach if they're so desperate to not see other people enjoying themselves.’
Announcing the review last month, deputy council leader Gary Hughes said there were ‘a number of incidents where irresponsible horse-riding has posed a risk to people on the beach’.
A council spokesman said: ‘Public safety is our paramount concern. We are looking into the by-laws around horse-riding on Hayling beach to find a way to keep everyone on the beach safe and happy.
‘Over the last few weeks riders have been seen without safety equipment, such as hard hats or saddles, riding outside the permitted times and riding too fast while families are playing nearby. We are appealing for horse-riders to behave responsibly when riding on Hayling beach.
He said the council welcomes people’s views and added it was working with the British Horse Society on possible solutions.