Horses on beaches - a better solution

Horses on beaches have been one of the most contentious local issues in the Warrnambool region in recent times. It is an issue that, quite simply, cannot have a solution that will keep everyone happy.

Horses have been using the beaches in the Belfast Coastal Reserve for well over 100 years - without a reported incident until the substantial increase from large trainers in the last five years. This increase in usage by large trainers has also coincided with their desire to work their horses in the soft sand close to the dune, thus causing problems with conservationists and beach users.

The horses on beaches issue cannot and should not be considered in isolation of the Warrnambool main beach and Levy’s. If the Belfast Coastal Reserve is taken in isolation the closure of any beach will see neighbouring beaches overrun.

Warrnambool City Council have recently approved 96 horses per day (down from 120 plus per day) to use the Warrnambool main beach and will continue work to make the Worm Bay training proposal a reality.

I believe the issue needs to be solved a different way.

  • Warrnambool Beach numbers to be controlled by Warrnambool Racing Club;
  • ALL beaches in Belfast Coastal Reserve limited to two horses per trainer per day with a total of 10 horses maximum per day;
  • ALL beaches off-limit from December 15 until February 1, Easter weekend and March Labor Day weekend;
  • Install cameras for compliance at nesting sites and in car park – Moyne Shire to undertake compliance with fines and penalties;
  • All trainers and riders to undertake “hooded plover appreciation” course prior to beach use;
  • ALL beaches are only for use on water line - no work in soft sand or dune;
  • Horses to be walked past any hooded plover nest.

Therefore, if a trainer has a permit to use the Warrnambool beach the trainer will not be allowed to use any other beach in the Belfast Coastal Reserve or Levy’s.

This proposal will provide a balance between industry and environmental support and reduce the impact on the coastal reserve. The proposal will also allow smaller trainers the opportunity to use beaches under strict conditions.

We welcome your input and feedback on this proposal. Please use the form below to send your comments: