The St. Landry Parish Council is slated to introduce another amended trail ride ordinance during its regular meeting Wednesday, this one with a 500 limit on the number of riders, a complaint process and an appeal process.
The council has been battling trail ride issues for the past three years, with a number of complaints regarding destruction of property, uncontrolled horses, public drunkeness, public exposure and public urination being brought before the council, as well as issues of trail rides blocking public roads.
Late last year, after hearing a public complaint, the council voted to ban the Step-N-Strut Trail Ride, which draws 10,000 people to its yearly, three-day event.
Representatives of the trail ride requested the council reconsider, saying it was unfair that the council had no appeals process.
At the same meeting, St. Landry Sheriff Bobby J. Guidroz presented a list of over 200 complaints received by his department regarding Step N Strut over the past three years.
In comparison, Guidroz said his department had received only two complaints regarding the Eunice Courir de Mardi Gras over the past three years.
The council proposed a number of revisions to the existing trail ride ordinance, which has already been revised several times in the past two years.
During last month’s committee meeting, Guidroz said that trail rides have become too large for his department to police, and that he would no longer approve trail rides of more than 500 riders.
The Sheriff’s Department must approve all trail rides before they come to the council for approval.
Guidroz said he does not have adequate manpower to police larger trail rides, and off-duty officers from outside the parish do not want to work trail rides.
Several other parishes in the state have banned trail rides outright; St. Landry is one of only eight parishes where trail rides are not banned.
During the council’s July 5 Administrative/Finance Committee meeting, the committee voted to pass the amended ordinance draft to the full council for discussion at Wednesday’s meeting.
Eunice Councilmember Gary Courville stated during the meeting that he is adamantly opposed to setting the limit of riders at 500.
Councilmember Dexter Brown pointed out that the sheriff said he would not approve any further trail ride requests with riders greater than 500.
“The sheriff is not a member of this council,” Courville responded.
The ordinance states that any group of 50 or more riders on horseback is considered a trail ride, and that would include the annual Courir de Mardi Gras in Eunice.
Other restrictions proposed in the amended ordinance include:
-four flagmen per 100 riders;
-numbered registration tags must be worn by all participants;
-sheriff must present complaints regarding the trail ride going back three years;
-complainants will have 15 days to file a complaint with the parish council;
-a resident of St. Landry Parish must file for the trail ride application and be listed as the responsible person;
-a trail ride whose application has been rejected has 15 days to file an appeal;
-only one rider per horse;
-violators will be fined $1,000 per offense.