May 30, 2012

HEY YOU! Stand Up & Be Counted: Saving UNH

Mahatma Gandhi once said, "A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history." And someone once described Eventers as a group of individuals who, despite all that can go wrong and all that seems insurmountable, come together for the love of a great (if not extreme) sport and GET IT DONE!

Remember those calls for help that came over the past several years, like the havoc and destruction of GMHA and Huntington after Hurricane Irene? And who can forget how we all came together after the fire to help rebuild True Prospect Farm? When there is a call to arms, Eventers rise up and take charge much like attacking a difficult cross- country course... "I see it, I know it needs to be conquered and I sit up and kick until I cross the finish line".

Folks... UNH still need us even more now than ever before! "But", you say,"I thought it was all ok now! It is, isn't it?" (And some of you might even be saying... "Huh? What's up with UNH? Didn't they have a Horse Trial a couple of weeks ago?")

Let me see if I can simplify a somewhat complicated situation...

  • The Problem - NH State budget cuts reduced funding to the University by $48 million. UNH developed a Campus Master Plan (CMP) which originally planned to lease out lands used by the Agriculture/Equine/Life Sciences programs for commercial development to bridge some of the shortfall. That means RETAIL stores - think Big Box Stores.
  • The Outcry - Two public meetings (which can be viewed at were held. Over 600 people attended and the support against this development was astounding. As a result of this outcry, the Master Plan Steering Committee changed the language to "limit" potential development in these areas. "Limit" does not mean no commercial development
  • More of the Problem - The public meetings were contentious and the Master Plan Steering Committee along with the Consultants were caught unprepared for such a reaction from the community. Now, they meet quietly until the next public release. There are Plans to move the Equine program in order to make way for commercial/business development eliminating the current facilities (parts of the cross-country course, stabling, paddocks, farm buildings, indoor and stadium jumping course).

So, the Master Plan Steering Committee feel that by moving the facilities, all will be well and that we will be silent. Where is an already cash-strapped university going to find the money to replace what is being moved?

It's kind of like a shell game... they are not canceling the plans for development they are just shuffling it around. And, for how long will the shuffling last? Will the Equine Program be able to survive if it continues to be squeezed slowly and consistently like an anaconda eating its prey?

Some of you are all fired up, right?

We're Eventers and we love a good challenge! And maybe some of you are thinking... "Well, it's kind of out of my hands and really, I don't live in NH and haven't ever competed at UNH." (I actually hope that's just my mom and not an Area 1 Eventer.)

Here is why it’s important to all of us... even those Eventers outside of New England:

  • Every time Commercial or Retail development occurs on green space we all lose. Think of all the Commercial and Retail lots in your area that are still "For Lease", half empty or that have signs in the window "Store Closing". Do we need more on our open lands?
  • UNH is one of the first Land Grant Universities whose mission was to, among other things, teach Agriculture using the land granted to them. If we continue to erode our Agriculture/Environmental Educational base, who will teach our future horsemen?
  • And is a Green/Sustainable future really possible if these colleges continue to be paved over to make way for the Wal-Marts of the world?

If you love a good gallop or a great cross-country run, and if you want to continue to see Horse Trials throughout New England... WE ALL NEED YOU NOW!

Take a few moments and email the following key individuals:

·UNH President, Mark Huddleston - [email protected]

·UNH Board of Trustees Chair, Ed Dupont - [email protected]

·UNH Director of Advancement, Peter Weiler - [email protected]

·UNH Chairof the Steering Committee of the CMP, Paul Chamberlin - [email protected]

·University Architect and Director of Campus Planning, Doug [email protected]

Express your concern over the proposed development and kindly demand:

1. That the Campus Master Plan be revisited and redirected

2. That they must discontinue the plans for any large scale retail development on UNH land,

3. That Agriculture, Dairy, Equine, Organics and Sustainability are very important and should be invested in rather than squeezed out.

4. That the President meet directly with the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture to hear their input

Change happens when we make it happen!

You can follow Suzanne’s Blog at:

FYI Did You Know:

  • 2012 - UNH’s Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association (IHSA) team won the team regional championship for the northern New England region for the second consecutive year, amassing more points during the eight-competition season than teams from 11 other schools in the region.
  • 2011 - UNH celebrated 40 years of eventing... that's right 40 years!
  • 2009 - The UNH dressage team won the National Championship
  • 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 - The Dressage team won the regional championship
  • The Equine Program has tripled in size over the last 10 years and its students come from all over the US.
  • Facilities receive over 200 visitors per week
  • Hosts the last recognized USEA Horse Trials and USDF Dressage Shows in NH
  • USEA Horse Trials support the Equine Program
  • Cross-Country schooling on a sanctioned and unsanctioned course

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Pressure Proof Tip: Power Vowels

If you’re like most riders you’ve probably heard someone say something like, “Your last mistake is your best teacher,” or “if you’re doing everything right you’re doing something wrong because you’re in your comfort zone.” While I agree whole-heartedly with these sentiments, I actually prefer, “Equestrians don’t make mistakes. Mistakes make equestrians.” They make us bolder, braver, and brighter; but only when we develop a positive relationship with our mistakes and respond to them in productive ways.

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