On October 22, the Pinellas Board of County Commissioners voted to ban horseback riding near the Skyway Bridge. Officials state that the popular activity is not only damaging seagrass but polluting the ocean, as well, arguing that the manure and urine being left behind can cause some serious damages to the Pinellas County Aquatic Preserve (PCAP).
According to the Florida Department of Health, enterococci, which is a pathogen left behind from mammal or bird feces, was found in high concentration whenever the horses were present in Pinellas waters. If Enterococci is ingested or enters the skin through a cut or sore, it may cause human disease, infections or rashes.
To make matters worse, seagrass that acts as the oceans filter is being stomped away as well. This natural filter helps reduce erosion, improve clarity and quality of the water.
“I’m convinced that it’s the horseback riding that’s producing the bulk of the damage we see out there,” said Florida Department of Emergency Protection Aquatic Preserve manager Dr. Randy Runnels to Fox 13.
Not everyone agrees with the ban, one in particular is Carmen Hanson, owner of C Ponies, a horseback riding business that takes people out onto the beach or sea for an hour-long trip.
“We are very disappointed. We feel like not only have we lost it for our own business, we’ve lost it for all the horse owners who go to this beach and ride an enjoy a little piece of heaven,” said Hanson to the station.