Inspired by similar events in Santa Cruz and Montana, earlier this month, upwards of 50 student-athletes and 15 coaches representing five high school mountain bike teams in the Folsom Lake area spent part of their Saturday practice getting an up-close-and personal lesson on what to do when encountering horses on the trails they ride. Thanks to the interest and enthusiasm of four local equestrians who want to keep our trails safe and trail-user relations positive, the high school riders and their coaches gained a better perspective of what horses might think and see when encountering a mountain biker.
The key points discussed were:
1. Horses are prey animals and can have a "flight" instinct when encountering something new or something that startles them.
2. Upon approaching an equestrian, stopping and talking to the equestrian is very important. Let the equestrian dictate what happens next in terms of passing each other. Most of them often say "You're fine. Thanks!"
3. When yielding to a horse on a slope, it's best to pull your bike over on the low side of the trail.
While educating the teenage mountain bikers was the primary goal of the clinic, improving the relationship between the local mountain biking and equestrian communities was of equal importance. By all measures, this was a very successful and positive event. We hope to offer more in the area soon!
Special thanks to the high school mountain biking program, Cycling Development (cyclingdev.com) and the equestrians representing The Friends of the El Dorado Trail (El Dorado Trail) for putting this together. Special thanks to El Dorado Hills Trails (edhtrails.org) for producing this promotional video:
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