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On the Move with ETI

In its 66th year, Equestrian Trails, Inc. offers more than ever to the horse world

From Horsetrader staff reports - July 15th, 2010 - Cover Story

LOS ANGELES — Later this month, there will be a scene at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center when riders of all ages and all disciplines will enliven the facility with the annual ETI National Horse Show and Convention.

At this event, so large it must be spread over different venues and weekends, there are riders young and not-so-young, in breeches and in chaps, going over fences, around barrels and even in carriages. Clearly, Equestrian Trails, Inc. has grown beyond the trails it dedicated itself to acquire and protect in 1944.

“It sounds like a movie script, but during World War II, a small group of horsemen joined together to patrol the power lines and guard public property in Long Beach to secure the safety of the area,” explains current ETI President Linda Fullerton. “Every night during the war, these men on horseback patrolled areas only accessible by horseback.”

ETI photo

Trail riding, as Equestrian Trails, Inc.'s name implies, is a big part of membership. But member activities include events ranging from the Junior Ambassador program (below) to barrel racing, English riding, driving and more.

Those men, she says, continued their calling after the war in event their services would be needed, and on July 21, 1944 Equestrian Trails was born. The following year, they incorporated as Equestrian Trails, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to support equine legislation, good horsemanship and for the acquisition and preservation of riding and hiking trails throughout California.

Today, ETI is divided into 35 “Corrals” in nine geographical areas in California – each one reflecting the flavor and interests of its region. ETI remains a volunteer organization dedicated to preserving the ability to have places where equines and their owners can enjoy the equestrian way of life.

“ETI maintains its original goals from 1945 — a remaining active and trying to help all equestrians maintain an environment that allows for the enjoyment and humane treatment of all equines,” says Fullerton.

This year marks 66 years that ETI members and officers have been working with city, county and statewide legislative and other governmental agencies in the interest of horse people – from maintaining equine facilities to an adjoined trail network, to stables, show venues, and camping/staging areas, to open space, to horse-friendly residential communities and to parks. In short, working to make a difference wherever it is feasible for horses to remain a part of the California lifestyle.

Carol Locus/MicroArtisan.com photo

“ETI has thousands of members, and as a large organization can be very effective in influencing policies, laws, and other ordinances that affect our ability now and in the future to maintain an equestrian lifestyle,” says Fullerton, who is quick to point out (like most ETI members) that the equine population in California produces goods and services valued at more than five billion dollars annually.

“Equines and their owners empower a quiet but dynamic industry that has a strong impact on all of California,” she adds. “Between feed stores, tack and equipment stores, veterinarians, farriers, and trainers, we provide a significant economical impact on the state. Equine-supportive legislation could increase the positive economic impact of the equestrian way of life.”

Carol Locus/MicroArtisan.com photo

For the juniors – members under age 18 — ETI provides a variety of programs and activities that encourage growth as equestrians.

“They are the future of ETI and of the equine industry and lifestyle,” says Fullerton.

The Junior Ambassador Program, under the direction of Debbie Foster, is active year-round and provides junior members with the chance not only to learn and have fun, but also to be volunteers in their communities in a variety of ways. To be chosen as an ETI Junior Ambassador, they compete in a horsemanship test, a written test covering equine health and care, ETI’s past and present history and a poise and personality competition. The Junior Ambassadors are also ETI’s representatives to many other organizations and to the public.
“They serve as a visible example of the joy and the benefits of the equestrian lifestyle,” says Fullerton.

ETI and its Corrals offer a variety of activities throughout the year that celebrate the value of equines in our lives. This includes trail rides, horse camping, trail trials, gymkhanas, carriagedDriving, wagon trips, all types of horse shows, and a Trail Rider Award Program that helps document the use of trails and protects these trails for use by future riders and hikers. Annually, ETI leads a 125-mile ride through Death Valley, concluding at Furnace Creek as part of the 49ers Celebration Parade.

ETI photo

“ETI has its roots in trail riding, but it includes all horse disciplines and all types of equines,” says Fullerton. “Come to any ETI event, and you are likely to see ponies, drafts, mules, and every type of equine involved. And educational clinics are offered several times a year to teach equine care and training.”

ETI, which supports the Equestrian Program at Pierce College, has its National Horse Show and Convention each summer — when most juniors are not in school and when people and their equines are more able to participate.

Because of the number of diverse ETI events, the National Show competition is spread over different weekends and locations. Gymkhana, trail trials, carriage driving, and Junior Ambassador competition have all been completed. But the hunter, jumper, dressage, and western shows will all take place July 30 through Aug. 1 at the L.A. Equestrian Center. Admission is free, and all competition is open to members and non-members alike. The Grand Entry, at lunch time on Saturday, July 31, will include drill team exhibitions and the presentation of the 2010-2011 Junior Ambassadors.

More on ETI: http://www.etinational.com

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