I decided to be totally objective when making my assessment of the singletrack the horses were on this weekend. Forget what's been said, forget what's been written, and simply ride and see for myself. This is Rick's 4th day in a row he's been at the trails looking them over. You've read his opinions and of course DCNR's assessment -- now its my turn.
I've been on dozens and dozens of all types of trails in all types of conditions and yes, there IS some damage, but not significant (as DCNR stated) -- YET (more on that shortly). What came to mind most when I was riding was growing up on the farm and me and my brother would grab our bikes and head out across the horse fields on the trails the horses would make. They were rutty, bumpy, rocky, and bro and I would get a kick out of seeing if we could make it up this one hill that was slippy from the horses chewing up the gravel and making it loose. Yup, that's the impression I got of the trail. Bumpy, rutty (they are drying out now and after digging it up in wet conditions, they are becoming rutty), hard to climb on the steep sections because of the looseness, and full of horse shit. Before I even started riding, I tried to get on my bike and slipped and fell in rocks -- in horse shit! Stupid me.
Now my verdict -- at present, the trails are definitely rideable, but bumpy and loose at spots. The worst parts are minimal - maybe 25% of entire length of trail? The bumps will likely smooth out over time with bike traffic and a couple rains; unless the rains are SO hard it starts to wash which is my next verdict. I think over time there will be areas that will begin to erode and that's the part I'm not so sure DCNR was really thinking about - how will these trails hold up over time with this kind of traffic. But time will tell that story. I can't imagine the horses will be back for another year - at least not in the numbers they were in this past weekend. We may see a horse or two every now and again, but one or two may not cause that much trouble.
So... get out and ride and smooth out the trails! Ride Shale Run, Preserve Line, Matter Singletrack, Rock's Ridge West and Wolf Pond.