All rights reserved, 2015 © Brighton Trail Riders Association.
Early in 1997, a number of trail riding enthusiasts who regularly rode in the Brighton Recreation Area embarked on a project to form an organization dedicated to maintaining and improving its equestrian facilities. They were aware of similar organizations which served other state recreation areas and were convinced that Brighton could benefit from the stewardship of a grass-roots group dedicated to those ideals.
On February 4th of that year, they met with officials from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, who endorsed the formation of such a group. This was followed by an informational meeting on February 24th with 36 riding enthusiasts and a representative from the DNR in attendance. All of those at the meeting enthusiastically agreed that such an organization should be created, and seed money was collected to fund its early activities. Sixteen people signed on as board members and pledged to devote themselves to make the new organization a reality.
On March 19th, 1997, The Brighton Trail Riders Association was officially formed at an organizational meeting held at the Brighton Riding Stable, with 27 people signing on as founding members. Several of the members volunteered to assume leadership roles and officers were named. One of these new leaders, an attorney, also volunteered to undertake incorporation proceedings and begin drafting by-laws. The Mission of the Brighton Trail Riders Association (BTRA) was also established: Preserve, protect and improve the equestrian staging area, campground and trials of the Brighton Recreation Area.
A number of activities were soon underway, especially service work. Three work bees were held during the first season, and a tradition of trail maintenance and improvement work was born. The publication of a newsletter, The Hoofbeats Gazette, began. The first organized ride took place, with the aim of familiarizing more equestrians with the recreation area. Recognizing that the organization would need a funding source, membership dues were set. BTRA was established as a not-for-profit corporation, and the by-laws were adopted.
The Brighton Trail Riders Association is now in its third decade, and several of our founding members are still with us today. We are grateful to them for their inspiration and guidance. Our organization has not only remained true to its founding principles but has significantly expanded its vision and scope of activities. Although our members have one thing in common – a love of horses and trail riding – we have also become more diversified. We now include in our membership the young and not-so-young, and riders with a range of skill levels and experience. Some of us limit our riding to Brighton and nearby areas, and others trailer our horses all around Michigan and travel to many other states.
We continue to engage in trail maintenance and improvement activities, featuring formal work bees, and we collaborate with the Department of Natural Resources staff at Brighton on all matters pertaining to the equestrian facilities. Our projects over the years have transformed the trails, staging area, and campground into one of the best-maintained public equestrian resources in the State. We host organized rides and events during the season, often accompanied by cook-outs and camp-overs. We also offer social activities during the colder months, highlighted by our annual banquet followed by the general membership meeting in the spring. The banquet, co-hosted by the Pinckney Trail Riders Association, has been a huge success over the years. It is noteworthy that many of us belong to both organizations. We continue to publish The Hoofbeats Gazette, in which our members are offered free advertising, and they receive announcements and timely information through group e-mails, Facebook, and our website. We also publish a monthly column in Saddle Up! Magazine.
We believe in networking and maintaining contact with other trail riding organizations, and we take an active interest in Michigan’s wider equestrian community. We hold membership in the Michigan Horse Council, are a designated Friends Group with the Department of Natural Resources, regularly attend the annual Friends Summit hosted by the DNR and participate in the Michigan Horse Council’s Equine Legislative Day. We are also a 501(c)(3) corporation and take advantage of the various benefits which accompany that legal status.
Over the years, BTRA, in collaboration with the local DNR, has completed a number of major projects in the staging area, namely the construction of a pavilion and completion of an electric water pump station. Several more improvements to the equestrian facilities at the Brighton Recreation area are recently completed, currently underway, or planned. A new water supply for the campground was installed in the past year and it significantly enhances the camping experience for trail riders who camp there. A secondary staging area supporting the western portion of our trail network is partially completed. It will provide immediate access to several miles of trails which will increase their use and popularity. We are hopeful that corrals can be constructed in one or more of the sites in the equestrian campground. Based on the results of this type of project at other state recreation areas, we are confident that this new feature will be very popular.
Our organization has been able to maintain our original dues structure since we were founded. We have always featured individual and family memberships for riders and more recently, have offered associate memberships to non-riders. This category includes hikers, birders, dog walkers, and people who enjoy strolling the trails and taking in the natural surroundings. Some designated areas are open to hunting during the various hunting seasons, but we are not associated with this activity. Finally, we encourage other organizations representing trail riders to make use of our facilities, notably the Great Lakes Distance Riding Association and the 4-H Grand Equestrian Ride-A-Thon, which hold major events at Brighton on a yearly basis. To ensure that our trails are maintained with safety and tranquility in mind for riders and foot traffic, wheeled and motorized vehicles are prohibited from using the trails.
President: Mark Delaney
Treasurer: Agnes Wallace
Secretary: Penny Wilson
Member-at-Large: Peter Andrews
Patricia Blossom Marsha Jones Don Packard Mary Pisko