OKLAHOMA CITY - City leaders have taken an important first step for allowing horseback riding - and possibly even an equestrian center - in Oklahoma City limits.
Previously, only city employees could ride or drive animals in areas along the Oklahoma City riverfront.
An ordinance, amended by the City Council Tuesday, now opens the area to anyone.
But, that doesn't mean cyclists and pedestrians will be sharing the paths with horses right away.
"It just opens the door for us to pursue those recreational opportunities," said Douglas Kupper, Oklahoma City's director of parks and recreation. "We want to make sure we have the ability to start creating equestrian opportunities and talking with enthusiasts about creating equestrian trails within the city limits and especially along the river."
According to the city's website, the ordinance was changed to allow a local non-profit called City Care to add horseback riding to its list of programs for inner-city youth.
The non-profit will now be granted a permit to launch its programs at Crystal Lake.
Paved trails are not for horses, Kupper said. But, he plans to work with the equestrian community to develop them, and city leaders have previously discussed an equestrian facility in the area.
"I mean, we are the horse capital of the universe here in Oklahoma City," Kupper said. "We do have an awful lot of people who want to do trail rides along the river. We'd like to make that a reality."
Phyllis Dragus is welcoming that opportunity with open arms. She's taught people to ride for years and frequently accompanies people out on the trails on her ranch in Luther.
"Oh, I'm thrilled, absolutely thrilled, because there is a whole venue, a whole, new community out there of horseback riders," she said. "It's a part of Oklahoma City. It's a part of our heritage. We need to be on those trails."
Dragus said she is willing to help firm up the city's plans especially, she said, when there are so many great ideas out there.
"I think it's a great opportunity to introduce horses to a whole population that has wanted to be involved with horses but don't know anything about horses," she said. "This is the perfect time to start this new adventure."