St. Landry

Feb 16, 2011 11:53 PM by Shawn Kline

Step N Strut trots to Parish Council

Should one of the biggest money makers of the year be banned in St. Landry Parish? Step N Strut is an annual ride horse lovers take through St. Landry Parish but new rules could be coming their way and there's even talk about getting rid of the trail completely.
Thousands of people come to the area every year to ride their horses up and down Highway 31, but now residents along that trail say they're fed up and they're bringing the matter to Parish Council.
"The riders are falling off of the horses," Shirley Edmond said.
"The horses get away, they have to chase them down," Brian Ortego remembered.
"The horses are running wild," Edmond says.
"The big thing was urinating on the properties," Ortego said.
"They're totally drunk," Edmond recalled.
"They're throwing trash," was one of Ortego's complaints.
Shirley Edmond and Brian Ortego describe the trail as Mardi Gras with animals.
Every year, people from across the country come to ride their horses and spend their money in St. Landry Parish but residents are asking them to ride somewhere else.
"Not down a major highway- Highway 31." Edmond says, "that you're stopping traffic on."
"Ban everything!" A heated Martin Bellow yelled in front of Parish Council, "if you're going to do it, do it right- ban everything!"
Bellow says this trail ride is part of Louisiana's heritage- no different from local parades or Mardi Gras.
"If you're going to ban trail rides, you're going to have to ban Mardi Gras too." Bellow says, "fine, said and done."
Bobby Ray Knight says Parish Council may not even have the authority to ban anything having to do with horses or where they can ride.
"When everybody thinks, 'y'all gotta do something,'" Knight said. "Actually, no you don't."
Knight says horseback riding is protected under state law- and if Parish Council bans Step N Strut, he says their actions could go to state court.
"We're coming to party in Opelousas and we're bringing our money." Knight says, "and it won't just die (at Parish Council)."
St. Landry Parish Council was entertaining a hearing on the issue on Wednesday night but they say they won't vote on the issue until their next meeting in March.

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