HISTORY OF THE GRANBY REGIONAL HORSE COUNCIL
The Granby Regional Horse Council, Inc. was begun by a few friends riding the trails of Granby and Belchertown, MA in 1994. After an awhile they began to realize that trails in Granby through private property which had been used for years where now being bought by new people who were not allowing riders or anyone to cross their land due to liability fears. Also, they realized that there was a huge population of horse owners and stables in and around Granby who did not have an organization to provide education, disseminate information, or simply host events. There had been another club years ago in South Hadley, but that club had been gone for a number of years. There were some 4H clubs in the area too but no, all age, family oriented club nearby. That is when they came up with the idea of forming a club for horse owners and other horse enthusiasts in and around Granby.
The first meeting was at the home and farm of Mark Girard and Diane Godek, also known as the Circle Double G Farm which was located at the time on route 202 in Granby, MA. There Diane and Mark, along with 10 other friends, decided to create a horse council that would focus on saving and maintaining trails for equestrians, educating the public on horse training/ keeping, and providing organized events for equestrians in the immediate area. They knew that there was already a state wide equestrian trail club (Bay Sate Trail Riders Association) but this organization hosted most of their events in the eastern part of the state where they also saved trails. It was at that time that the Granby Regional Horse Council was born. The founding members of the GRHC wanted it to be a regional club and not just one for the town of Granby because they realized that this club would and could serve Belchertown, and many other towns in the immediate area.
Their first official meeting that was open to the public and advertised as such was at Mount Holyoke College Equestrian Center in South Hadley. With internet not being as popular as it is now, they advertised the meeting in newspapers, some e-mails, phone calls, with flyers at tack / grain stores and by placing flyers at every back yard barn and boarding stable they could find! The first meeting attracted over 50 people who especially were interested in saving old trails for horseback riding in Granby and Belchertown as more trails were being lost due to development and as new land owners who had old, secluded wooden trails running through them began posting their property. They were now not allowing anyone to cross them fearing law suits that came with this new litigious society that had suddenly developed
The first board of directors was chosen from the founding members that had met at Diane and Mark's Circle Double G Farm and the first memberships where accepted at that public first meeting at Mount Holyoke College.
From there, the GRHC worked with land owners to keep some trails open, investigated current trail use laws and hosted organized trail rides and free educational lectures. They hosted a very big, famous organized trail ride known then as "The GRHC Turkey Ride" which started the Circle Double Farm on rte. 202 in Granby and whose route went from there through the seminary property behind the home up, into some private lands in both Granby and Belchertown, and though Skinner State park and back! After the ride, participants and others were treated to a huge homemade turkey dinner prepared by Mark Girard with assistance from many volunteers. Then in 1996 the GRHC officially got their non-profit 501c educational status and became incorporated. The GRHC also became affiliated with BSTRA, the state wide organization and have joined other trail saving clubs.
For the past 24 years, the GRHC has educated horse owners with free lectures and paid demonstrations, worked to save trails, organized marked trail rides, open horse shows, gymkhanas, parades, other events.
Other small clubs have come and gone, but the Granby Regional Horse Council, Inc. has remained and been added to the few, very, old, and long established clubs that serve other areas of western MA. The GRHC works with these other old clubs to provide the events that you see today.
The GRHC continues to work on its' mission to provide excellent, educational, and social events for the immediate equestrian community and save trails for equestrian use. It has grown and flourished over the many years and has a reputation of being a friendly, all age organization. The GRHC now is known for its' yearly open horse show in June at Dufresne Park, its' new obstacle course events later int the year , and its' marked trail rides with delicious meal afterwards.