Centennial Park, Sydney: Riders outraged by fine that has been described as a declaration of war

A hefty riding penalty has sparked outrage in the equestrian community, where some riders have described it as a declaration of open hostility.

A Sydney rider is protesting a fine she says was wrongly handed out, while others have called it a “declaration of war” between Centennial Park and riders.

Niki Zubrzycki was fined $95 by Centennial Park rangers for not riding her horse “on designated trails or trust lands,” but she insists she did nothing wrong.

She said she did not ride her horse on the road, which is forbidden under park rules, but she did venture onto the grass next to the racecourse to answer a stranger’s question.

“I only spoke to one member of the public after they asked me a question,” Ms Zubrzycki said.

“They will ask you about the horses and ask you where they can have their dog because she had a dog on a leash.

“Actually, I gave them all this information, which is actually information that the ranger should give.”

Riders are permitted by law to ride on other NSW roads but are not permitted to venture onto the roads in Centennial Park as they are subject to the Trust Acts.

The rangers at Centennial Park are not employees of the local council or state government, but are hired by a security company to protect the park.

Ms Zubrzycki said Centennial Park management was focusing on the wrong problem, noting that she and her horse faced 17 attacks from released dogs.

At last the rider said they were attacked by a pack of seven animals.

“It was a dog walker who lost control of the pack, it was complete chaos and it was very scary,” she said.

“I get very upset myself, my horse stays calm, but I get very upset myself, these days I jump off, but it’s actually not great because the dogs often tease me.”

Ms Zubrzycki said the first time she was attacked by a pack of dogs in the park it resulted in the “death of a dog”.

She is concerned about the extent of dog attacks on horses and the possible consequences if the dogs cannot be brought under control.

“You don’t want a little kid riding up there and that happens to them and the horse bolts or someone has an accident,” she said.

Ms Zubrzycki said she was “shocked” by the fine as she met the rangers during their time as the canine liaison between the riders and the Centennial Park Trust.

“It really shocked me completely and I can only think of it as personal,” she said.

“I found I had quite a nice relationship with the rangers and this one in particular who I would have spoken to on many occasions and we always had a very friendly exchange.

“It was a bit strange for her not even to come up and talk to me when she wanted to issue me a ticket.”

The rider has written to the Centennial Park Trust to inform them of her decision to fight the fine.

“What has become of this park if one person cannot treat another person with common courtesy?

Had Ranger C spoken to me, she would have been aware that I was answering a citizen’s question about the park…How easy it would have been to ask me to walk two meters if I wanted to continue my conversation,” her reads Letter.

“This ticket also comes shortly after my horse and I were attacked by 7 dogs at the racecourse.

No fine was imposed on the dog walker, although none of the dogs were under effective control. I am still awaiting a reply to my letter from the Trust or the office. It seems your priorities are completely misplaced.”

Ms Zubrzycki said she had written to the Centennial Park Trust on several occasions and that her letter after being attacked by the pack went unanswered.

“I’ve seen countless accidents where loose dogs have run into the street and run over cyclists. I really think enough is enough.

Will the Trust be happy only if a horse or rider is killed by a marauding dog or dogs?” this letter asked.

After she opened up about her fight against the fine, other riders riding their horses at the popular park jumped to Ms Zubrzycki’s defence.

“Is that a declaration of war between the ‘external guards’ (I can’t in good conscience call them ‘rangers’) and the horsemen? I kinda feel like it is,” one person wrote.

“It’s about time they hire some real rangers who are friendly, kind, helpful and really enjoy their surroundings,” said another.

Originally posted as “War”: Outrage over horse penalty in Sydney’s Centennial Park

https://www.codesports.com.au/horse-racing/war-outrage-over-horse-fine-in-sydneys-centennial-park/news-story/628f1b9106fb48f28c3d329fbb9d07a3?nk=365244fe3d1e50376f31368e73ad1be1-1673043852 Centennial Park, Sydney: Riders outraged by fine that has been described as a declaration of war

Ryan Sederquist

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