Bay State Trail Riders Association, Inc. History
In the early 1970’s, several horsemen from the Massachusetts towns of Bellingham, Blackstone and Uxbridge were riding buddies. Mr. Ed Whalley, who had been in the Cavalry Reserve, was the catalyst for organizing and was named Executive Director. From his home on the shore of Silver Lake, Bellingham, he produced numerous articles and artwork for various horse publications, as well as a monthly bulletin “The Bugle” to keep members up-to-date, educated, and informed of all things equine. Richard “Dick” Gladu shouldered the responsibility of filing the Articles of Incorporation in 1973, bylaws were written, 501(c)(3) non-profit status obtained, and memberships processed. Officers (President, Vice-President, Treasurer, Secretary) and Directors (proportionately representing each county with members) were elected. Donato “Dan” Salvucci served as quarter master. All of these positions have always been unpaid. Monthly meetings of the Board of Directors are now held at the Douglas Town Hall, or alternatively, at a Director’s home. An Annual General Meeting and Awards Banquet is held in early February.
Rides held through the years included Field Trials (set to Calvary standards), Distance Trials, overnight camping trips (which were lineal rides as Ed was not a fan of riding in circles), and escorted trail rides (lead by a trail boss and heeled by a drag) which were quite impressive when there was a turnout of 40+ riders! Rides originated from private property or public lands such as State owned, Trustees of Reservations, Army Corps of Engineers, etc. In 1976, a group of our members took part in the Bicentennial Wagon Train riding from points in Massachusetts to Escoheag, Rhode Island. Please see related article coming in June 2016. In the 1980’s, Ed designed an award patch depicting the head of a donkey colored red which went to any member completing three consecutive days (usually 4-6 hours in the saddle) of riding. Other rides became annual events: the Big Pumpkin Ride, Turkey Trot, Lea MacInnis Memorial, Goddard Park, Beach Ride, Scavenger Hunt, Poker Run, National Trails Day, Ride & Tie, Ride-Run-Roll Relay, tack sale, camping on Memorial Day Weekend, Labor Day Weekend, and up to a week celebrating the 4th of July. Play Days (game shows) series took place for several years; Hunter Paces became popular. Trail rides became marked and/or mapped events rather than “lead” rides.
In the early 1980’s, Ed Whalley spearheaded our “pet” project, the dream he and an assorted group of multi-use trail riders had, of a rail trail from Franklin, MA to Willimantic, CT. After much effort, the Southern New England Trunkline Trail received National Trail designation in 1994. Through the years, many days of trash collection (gates installed to curb dumping), brush clearing, grading and other improvements have been ongoing and there is still much to be done. Friends of the SNETT have picked up the gauntlet at the Bellingham end of the trail and MA D.C.R. has been a great supporter (especially on the Douglas to CT section). Trail projects have taken place in many areas of the state and nearby Rhode Island and Connecticut with the help of matching grants (both in funding and manpower). Other sources of revenue besides dues, rides, and events are raffles, sponsorships, rebate programs, and advertising.
Upon the retirement of the Executive Director, President Becky Kalagher took on his administrative duties. As the organization grew, other members stepped up to the plate assuming responsibilities of fundraising, writing articles, submitting pictures, attending meetings, and so on. Our presence can be seen at the yearly Equine Affaire in West Springfield, MA and numerous other venues representing trails advocacy and education.
Membership benefits currently include affiliation with the “Equine Journal” and “Massachusetts Horse”, group discounted excess equine liability insurance, year-end awards for participation and volunteer recognition program. In the past few years, we have been brought into the 21st century with the advent of our website www.bstra.org, which is a work in progress, along with PayPal capability.
Recognition and thank you’s go to all of our partnerships and affiliations throughout our history (and we apologize to any that may not be named here).
American Horse Council
Army Corps of Engineers
Massachusetts Department of Conservation & Recreation
New England Mountain Bike Association
Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management
Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor
Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife
Towns of Mendon, Douglas, Uxbridge, Bellingham, Blackstone
Grafton Land Trust
Metacommet Land Trust
Broad Brook Coalition
Friends of Upton State Forest
Friends of Myles Standish State Forest
Friends of the SNETT
New England Equestrian Center
Equestrian Land Conservation Resource
Southeast HERD Chapter
Granby Regional Horse Council
Bristol County Horsemen’s Association
Scantic Valley Riders and Drivers
West Greenwich Horseman’s Association
North South Trails Council
Youth groups: Boy Scouts, Worcester Youth Academy, Webster and Douglas High School