An ordinance to keep horses off public property was deferred Tuesday by the City Council following pleas from horse owners. (American Press Archives)
Last Modified: Wednesday, September 04, 2013 10:18 AM
WELSH — An ordinance to keep horses off public property was deferred Tuesday by the City Council following pleas from horse owners.
A larger crowd of horse owners, including several youth, urged the council to reconsider the measure which would have required individuals to obtain a permit in order to ride or walk horses on public streets, sidewalks and property.
“We come as concerned parents and voters of Welsh to address the ordinance that was created in regards to horses and horse riding on public property in town,” Madlyn Prudhomme said in addressing the council.
Prudhomme said she had spoken with parents and others in the community associated with horse riding and gathered “much positive feedback” in regards to youths riding and working with horses.
“High on the list was changes in character,” she said. “Being more responsible. Doing homework and chores with great vigor. Another word that came up was respectful.”
“The community reported those young men being respectful or more respectful that wasn’t there before,” she continued. “This is a blessing for our boys, girls, young women and young men participating in those activities. The rewards of the education and therapy are paramount.”
Speaking on behalf of a group of parents and horse owners, Prudhomme proposed a partnership with the town to acquire or designate a parcel of land within the town to be used by the youth and their horses.
“We want to continue to nurture these positives in our children,” she said.
LaShonda Thorne, whose 16-year-old son is a horse rider, and whose 8- and 12-year-old daughters are learning to ride, feels the town is blaming local youth for their problems with other horse owners.
She said about 30 youths ages 6 and older are part of a local youth horse riding club formed about a year ago. The youth are learning to care for their horses and are hoping to learn how to rope and barrel race, she said.
Jacquelinetta Bouley said the horses give youth something to do in Welsh, especially on weekends.
“These kids are active kids and they want to ride their horses and we support them,” Bouley said. “We’d rather them ride horses than selling drugs or breaking into houses.”
Alderman Allen Ardoin said the council proposed the ordinance banning horses on public property because of individuals who have no respect for anybody’s property.
“I don’t want to punish kids, but our police officers need something they can enforce,” he said.
Alderman Bob Owens said horses have caused ruts in the town’s parks and on the airport runway.
“We’re not saying riding horses is bad, but too many do reckless things or are harmful to others,” Owens said, “We need to regulate the ones who are harmful.”
Paul Matthews complained of finding horse droppings on his driveway on Sunday morning. Horse owners need a place to maintain their horses other than roaming the streets, he said.
Mariah Drake also expressed concern for a horse in a field near her house.
“I can’t walk down Kennedy Street because I don’t know what the horse will do,” Drake said. “These boys riding horses in the street might be fun for them, but not me. I am shaking and scared.”
After nearly 25 minutes of public comments, Mayor Carolyn Louviere asked that the matter be deferred to allow the council and community to “come together” and work out a solution in which people and property can be respected.
Paul Achan said if allowed to pass, the ordinance would be infringing on people’s civil liberties.
“We are infringing on a very slippery slope today,” he said. “Horses today. Tomorrow it’s birds and the next day it’s something else because someone doesn’t like birds or cats.”
As with any pet, Achan said horses require responsibility from their owners.
“I didn’t elect you to control us,” Mark Boudreaux Sr. said. “What’s next gold fish or big dogs? How many permits do we have to get?”