Need help making a submission? Not sure what to write or how to write it? We've made a few now, and we have plenty of background information and other notes that you are very welcome to use in your own submissions.
Understand the topic
Submissions will be about specific topics. Some will be easy to see there's a connection with horse riding, like, planning a new park, or a paths network. Others might be a bit more obscure, like, Council annual plans, or long term plans. But these are where projects (like parks or paths) are first planned, and importantly the funding is allocated to them. No money, no parks or paths. Whatever the topic, you get to tell Council what you think.
Before you start writing
1. Skim through the draft.
There is almost always a draft document; a starting point. There may even be a bunch of different options within it.
look for topics (headings) that seem relevant to horse riding.
You don't need to read every word. Typical areas of interest are (depending on what sort of draft document you are starting with):
- roads and road safety,
- parks, and sports fields,
- open spaces
- trails, and paths - including 'walking and cycling' - make it walking, cycling AND HORSE RIDING
There may also be sections like social and community programmes that are relevant for riding for the disabled, pony clubs or equine social and rehabilitation programmes.
Look for GAPS
Look for what isn't there! Often horses aren't mentioned at all. Point this out, especially when they are talking about rural areas.
- Focus on what interests you the most! This will usually be what you find easiest to write about.
- Stick to the point!
- Do not try to put everything that affects horse riders into one submission.
- Think about others! Please don't restrict others because of your personal opinions, phobias or preferences. Your horse may not like dogs (or bikes) or whatever, but that doesn't mean you should write as if ALL riders will have a problem sharing. Getting access is the number one priority.
2. Make Notes
When you spot a topic, make some notes about what they are proposing. Does it include horses or not? Even if they do, are they including everyone, or just Pony Club Councils often think that everyone who owns a horse belongs to Pony Club, or just wants to ride around a flat, bare paddock.
When you make your notes, include the page number or heading number. So when you write your answer you can say, for instance, "on page 49 you are creating a cycle path, but this needs to be a shared path as it is how horse riders currently get to the beach"... or "Section 14.1 recreation makes no mention of horse riding...."
3. Say what you want
What do you want them to do? Have constructive ideas, and how to achieve them.
Don't just criticise things in the draft proposal, say what you want, and preferable how to achieve it.
If it needs funding, how will this be raised, or allocated? If it is a change of wording, write the change you want and back it up with 'why'.
Be Clear and Objective
- Keep it as brief as possible, while saying what you want.
- Use facts where ever you can.
- Educate and explain. Don't assume that they know anything about horses, horse sport or horse people. But keep it on topic.
Don't just air your opinions, or be derogatory. If you have statistics or other information to either discredit the thing you disagree with OR to back up the thing you want - use them.
It's Your Submission
If you just want to make a very brief submission, that's okay. It is far more important to get something in, than to be put off and say nothing at all. But do say a little more than "what about horses?".
Remember the people reading the submissions can't answer questions, and aren't there to make up new answers for you. Try at least to string together a decent sentence. Something along the lines of "This is an area with a lot of horse riders, and we would like to see horse riding trails\access included". Once you start, you'll probably have some very good ideas to make your point. Back up your request with local knowledge like "there is very little riding in the local area", or "this is an accessway that has been used for generations to get from pony club to the beach" - or whatever is applicable.
How to Write a Submission
Do it Online!
By far the easiest usually. Sometimes they only give you a little space, so it can be helpful to type up your submission in a Word or other document, to paste into the online form.
If you prefer written or hard copy, request a copy of the official submission form and fill it in. Generally these are free to post back, or you can drop them in at a Council office (sometimes a library too).
Stick to their format
Use the headings from the document, and include page numbers for each of your points.
Even if you just skim the document to get the headings, this will mean the people reading it will take it much more seriously (let's face it, it is easier!)
If a specific format is provided, stick to it! Sometimes a spreadsheet or question and answer format is provided. If you have things to say outside of those topics, add them separately. There is usually the option to upload a file.
Let others know that there is something you want help with, or get others to make a submission too!
This is a really helpful site, to look for open submissions in your area. Generally I look for "park" or "public places" to filter the topics.