Disabled Equestrians Organization


231 Glenwood Ave

Woodside, Calif.  94062

July 11, 2000




Department of Justice

Disability Rights Section

P.O. Box 66738

Washington, D.C. 20035-6738


The Disabled Equestrians Organization represents individuals that are moderately disabled and use a horse or mule to provide them access to trails in the outdoors. 


We would like you to confirm our interpretation of the Americans with Disabilities act.


Disabled Equestrians Defined:


The causes of their disabilities are varied, and include accidents, old age and disease.   Some of the areas affected are knees, lungs, hearts, backs and ankles.  In spite of the diversity of aliments, they all share a common solution to their disabilities: they use a horse or mule to carry their worn out bodies to the places that millions of Americans enjoy: the beautiful high country of the Sierras, the rolling hills of the California coast, and many other public parks and forests.  It is estimated that one third of all equestrians suffer some form of disability that requires them to use a horse for access to the backcountry.  There are other organizations that focus on severely disabled persons that use horses for equine facilitated therapy.  We applaud their efforts, feel they are doing a great job, but our group is not focusing in on that aspect of disability.


Major life Activity.


Watch the water soaring, feel the mist, hear the roar of Waterwheel Falls and Yosemite Falls.

Awaken to sunrise over a dew-covered mountain meadow.  Watch the clouds drift over the High Sierra’s.  Wander in the solitude of a Redwood forest.   There are thousands of miles of trails in the backcountry of America that are enjoyed by millions of people…. If you are fortunate enough to be able to hike the trails, carry a pack and climb the hills.  This is the major life activity that we dearly love and dream of participating in.




The land we wish to access is owned by Federal, State and Local jurisdictions.  Horses have traveled many of the trails for a hundred years or more.  In recent years however, the government entities have been closing trails to horses, and limiting places to park a horse trailer.  Sometimes newly opened areas have implemented a ban on horses or trails.    The indirect result of these actions amounts to discrimination against disabled equestrians that use a horse or mule to access the trails.  We just want an equal opportunity to benefit from the parks, forests and open space our taxes pay for.  There are no undue financial or administrative burdens required to allow us access.  All we wish is reasonable modifications to the policies, practices and procedures that limit our access.







Thank you for your assistance.  Please confirm our interpretation of the ADA with a Technical Assistance Letter.  How might the Department of Justice be of assistance on resolving these issues?  You may contact me at my home number 650-851-2052 if you have any questions.





Donald E. Pugh






I Can by John A. Davies



I cannot walk, or run or play

A game of tennis every day,

I cannot dance or ride a bike

I'll never know what skating's like.


I have no soccer boots or ball

They are no use to me at all,

I'll never ski the waves or snow

So many thrills I'll never know


I'll never sail the wind or surf

Or chase a ball across the turf,

Nor climb the snow capped peaks above,

So many thrills I'll never love.


But I CAN ride through forest trails

To see the fox and rabbit tails

And watch the geese and ducks take flight

While leaping stags and deer take fright.


And I CAN follow mountain tracks

Past climbers weighted down with packs

To trace a river to its source

Above the clouds and feel the force.


Yes, I enjoy the "Sport of Kings",

When carried high my feet take wings

To fly me on a pleasure course,

For I CAN mount and ride a horse.