A Brief History of the Fairfield Bridle Trail Association
Since 1938, the Fairfield Bridle Trail Association has been the community organization working with private landowners and the Town of Fairfield to build, maintain and enhance the most extensive network of bridle trails surviving in Fairfield County, which extend from the borough of Southport by the sea, north through Fairfield and on into the hills of Easton.
When FBTA began, Fairfield was an agricultural community mostly untouched by urbanization and highways. Unpaved roads outnumbered “improved” ones, school buses were pulled by horses, and riding to Weston for the afternoon was considered a short hack. Some residents still went about by horse and buggy, and the trolley line carried them to Bridgeport. Most of Greenfield Hill was the stoutly-panelled hunting country of the Fairfield County Hounds.
Construction of the Merritt Parkway just prior to World War II cut the trail system in half, and put an end to foxhunting. In the early 1950’s, Chester LaRoche, MFH, realized the character of the town was changing, and the people who understood the ways of horses and hounds were being replaced by subdivisions and city dwellers. LaRoche saw the need for FBTA to become a liaison between riders and landowners to keep private land open for riding.
Since then, the FBTA has worked to save and maintain trails in the face of increasing development. The FBTA has also assumed an educational role in the horse community as a source of information on responsible horse ownership, care and safe riding. The FBTA serves as an advocacy group within the community when issues involving horses, riders and zoning or open space issues arise, and thanks to the committed involvement of its officers, members and benefactors, the FBTA has become a pro-active force in the movement to save what is left of the beautiful countryside our founders enjoyed in years gone by.
FBTA extends its sincere gratitude to the 1998 Fairfield County June Benefit Horse Show for making our Land Acquisition Fund a beneficiary and to the many individuals who give generously each year. These gifts enable us to purchase vital easements to keep key links in our beautiful trail system safe and open forever. We thank you for sharing in our vision for the future.