SCARBOROUGH — Town officials say it has been a quiet year for horseback riding on the beach after a new ordinance requirement convinced many riders, including the owner of a local equestrian center, to look elsewhere for their riding experiences.

For years, equestrians have been able to ride their animals from Oct. 1-March 31 along the tidal zone of Pine Point Beach and Old Orchard Beach, through a joint permitting process with Old Orchard Beach.

In 2017, however, in an effort to keep Pine Point Beach free of horse manure, the Town Council decided that beginning last October, riders had to outfit their animals with feces-containment devices.

“We have been going to Old Orchard Beach now,” said Cindy Flaherty, owner and operator of Flaherty Equestrian Center on Scottow Hill Road. “It was such a hassle to train horses (to use the devices). Not many people have been riding in Scarborough. I go (to Pine Point Beach) with my dogs and I haven’t seen anyone riding.”

Aside from Old Orchard Beach, where a containment device is not required, Flaherty said she has also been riding this fall and winter on Goose Rocks Beach in Kennebunkport, which permits horses between Sept. 15 and May 14.

The number of permits to ride horses on Pine Point Beach has dropped 55 percent from 2016, when the clerks’ offices in Scarborough and Old Orchard Beach issued 122 permits. Scarborough Town Clerk Tody Justice said the number dropped to 93 in 2017 and 55 in 2018.

Justice said she had expected to hear more complaints over the last few months from riders and residents, but that hasn’t been the case.

“We haven’t heard anything from our residents or our riders,” she said last week.

Jeff Thompson, deputy town clerk in Old Orchard Beach, said complaints have not flooded his office, either.

Flaherty said she hopes the Town Council will take up the topic again and remove the containment device provision. Then, she said, she would be content riding along Pine Point Beach again.

“I’d so much rather ride in Scarborough,” she said. “It is more convenient and has better parking.”

Michael Kelley can be reached at 780-9106 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @mkelleynews.

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