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  1. #1
    Justin Vander Pol
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    Horses are paranoid!

    Horses are paranoid! Ok, they're just trying to get through life w/out getting hurt, so they're naturally easily spooked. We share lots of trails with them, so here's a primer on how to act around horses.


    1. Always yield to horses. Up, down or level, it doesn't matter.
    2. Stop, move to the downhill side if possible, give them lots of space, get off your bike, let them pass. We have more control of our bikes than they do of their horses.
    3. Always talk to the horse rider. This lets the horse know you're a person, not a scary, shiny contraption.
    4. Be friendly, make eye contact, and tell them to have a great ride. Just because we all have more fun that way.
    5. Be cautious around blind corners, and especially intersections. These are the places horses are most easily spooked.



    That's about it! Post up any questions you have about riding around horses, and please talk to newer bikers about how to act around horses.

    Evergreen has been talking to some horse riders in the area that we work with on trail projects, and horse safety came up. I told them we'd do a little push to get the word out to newer riders about how to safely act around horses on the trail.

    Some places where you could see horses: most of Central and Eastern WA, Capitol Forest, Banner, Green Mtn., Grand Ridge, Tokul & most other private forests, Hansen Ridge, the Hwy 410 trails such as Ranger Cr., Palisades, etc., Tiger Mtn. - yes Tiger! There's lots more than I listed here.

    Spread the word!
    Issaquah & Seattle real estate agent. Buy or sell a home with me and I donate $500 to Evergreen MTB Alliance
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  2. #2
    Squeaky Wheel
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    Horses are prey animals. When they see something they don't understand, they will react with a "flight or flight" response. You don't want to be part of the fight, and the horse rider does not want to be part of the flight. So do what Juice says.

  3. #3
    FM
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    Great, but.....how should I act if I encounter a horse riding a bike?




















  4. #4
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    I usually take my helmet off as well. Probably not always necessary, but I've had a couple horseback riders mention that they've appreciated that. It's not a big hassle for me, though I usually just encounter horses way out boonies in my area.

  5. #5
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    Opportunities for horse-biker cooperation

    I wholeheartedly agree with what Juice posted. No debate there. As mentioned that Evergreen has been talking to horse riders, there is opportunity for two way dialogue. Not just what can we do to alleviate their concern, but shared responsibility to deal with it.

    The question I would pose to the horsies is: Knowing that there is risk of your horse to be spooked, what are you doing to lower the skittishness of your horse? Answers could include training the horse, training the rider, even choosing locations where a newer rider might have less chance of encountering a situation that would spook the horse (e.g. don't take a pony on a cliff trail with a beginning rider, for crazy example of what not to do).

    Knowing that the risk of a fall could involve injury, what are you (horse organizations, Evergreen) doing to prepare to address the injury? When you ride, do you know where the nearest medical facility is, or access to 911 on a cell phone? Do you carry a first aid kit, and know how to use it? Have you been trained in First Aid, Wilderness First Aid, or equivalent?

    We should emulate what NWTA does. Go to their home page, and they are rallying for first aid training. Shortcut, NWTA First Aid/CPR Training | Northwest Trail Alliance . At one time Evergreen had such an interest, I dug up from the archives, an event in 2002 (10 frickin years ago!), where Evergreen sponsored Wilderness First Aid, see Evergreen MTB Calendar.

    If we as a group are not prepared to address injuries, then dismounting upon encountering a horse, although essential, is reduced to a simple courtesy, because neither party is prepared to help if things go wrong.

    Not trying to diminish the public service announcement that started this thread, just asking if you are willing to seize the opportunity to have a two way dialogue with the horsies, what they can do, what we can do, to prevent injuries, and take it a step further as to how they / we would act if their fears are realized.

    BTW, I love the suggestion to take your helmet off when encountering a horse rider. Unfortunately, that won't fool them, I think horses recognize people without helmets as bikers

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by FM View Post
    Great, but.....how should I act if I encounter a horse riding a bike?
    Wookie approved.
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  7. #7
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    Good thread.

    My 2 cents:
    Dog owners and Horse owners both have a responsibility to acclimate their animals to the situations they may experience. Horses can get used to gunfire, explosions, and bleeding decapitated people...they can get used to mountain bikes.

    The horses (and owners) I have encountered at Tokul have been cool around my dog and around my bike. A few of them have dogs in tow, and the horses seem to react more to their riders than anything I am doing. This is not true in other areas of the state.

    However, a horse is a massive powerful animal (Warhorses were the first tank on the battlefield). As a biker, you have no idea what age or experience level a particular horse possesses, or the capabilities of its rider. Or, the temperaments of either.

    As with most things in life, courtesy and respect will get you 95% of the way there.

    I mean seriously, riders (both horse and bike) should be on the same team. The developers wanting to gut the forest are the enemy.
    Regional Race Manager, Knolly Bikes
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  8. #8
    Slothful dirt hippie
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    Training horses to deal with the million-and-one things that they could run into out in the big world is a serious task that serious horsemen invest a lot of time and effort into. Unfortunately the skill and the will of horse folks seems to be generally eroding as the old timers who really knew what they were doing age out. The result is horseman I've seen lecturing people about doing perfectly normal things like hiking while carrying a fishing pole or riding their bike 100' away out in open sagebrush on a parallel trail, when in reality all it's going to take is a bird suddenly blowing up in front of them to cause a wreck. If you think a grouse explosion right under your feet gives YOU a heart attack, try sitting that one out on a horse on a brushed in hillside trail... fun times....

    This does NOT give anyone a free-to-be-an-azz-pass so the suggestions still certainly apply, and getting more folks first aid training is an excellent idea in any case. But the weakest link in the horse vs the world scenario still remains the horsemen IMO, which leaves them with the ultimate responsibility of training in some increased elasticity into both the horse and rider's panic handling.

    OT: For those of you wondering how one does that, we took a two pronged approach. One was to start in the round pen and introduce the horse to every scary thing we could think of. We started with hanging old car tires off a saddle that would bump them around, and we'd work up to cans filled with rocks, bread sacks flapping from the bridle, etc... but dragging big tarps from the saddle horn clear off the back of the horse was my favorite graduation exercise. By the time they realized the tarp wasn't going to kill them and we'd help them out by taking it off one they calmed down, everything else was pretty tame.

    The other was to pony horses in training off a strong, calm, well broke horse all over the place into every possible situation we could devise... we were actually looking for surprises but the calm horse mitigated the response and we dealt with the rest calmly without making a production out of it. We'd even thank people who spooked our horses because we viewed the encounter as an opportunity.
    "...Some local fiend had built it with his own three hands..."

  9. #9
    Slothful dirt hippie
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    Quote Originally Posted by rdhfreethought View Post
    ...i mean seriously, riders (both horse and bike) should be on the same team. The developers wanting to gut the forest are the enemy.
    ^^^this.
    "...Some local fiend had built it with his own three hands..."

  10. #10
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    i'd be paranoid too, if i pooped in the middle of every trail i rode.
    trust the tread

    '06 Cannondale Prophet 1000
    '07 Bianchi Roger

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by rdhfreethought View Post
    As with most things in life, courtesy and respect will get you 95% of the way there.
    j
    Alot of great points.

    Most rides i'm on i see people who know what's up, mutual respect and everybody get's on about enjoying their day.

    The one example i do remember i was actually stopped waiting for my party to catch up with me on a descending trail. Talking with a horse rider, carrying on a conversation, and this racer boi clad in full spandex blows right by. Riding like he was completely oblivious. Horse freaks out, and i had to apologize to that guy on behalf of bikers.

    i'm not sure what the ratio is of people understanding trail etiquette or more importantly understanding the safety part of it. i'm not sure if racer boi knew or cared, but i'm glad to see discussion like this raised, so the next generation of riders understand.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skookum View Post
    j
    Alot of great points.

    Most rides i'm on i see people who know what's up, mutual respect and everybody get's on about enjoying their day.

    The one example i do remember i was actually stopped waiting for my party to catch up with me on a descending trail. Talking with a horse rider, carrying on a conversation, and this racer boi clad in full spandex blows right by. Riding like he was completely oblivious. Horse freaks out, and i had to apologize to that guy on behalf of bikers.

    i'm not sure what the ratio is of people understanding trail etiquette or more importantly understanding the safety part of it. i'm not sure if racer boi knew or cared, but i'm glad to see discussion like this raised, so the next generation of riders understand.
    I'm sorry you had to deal with that. A full grown man in spandex not in a race is a horrible thing to see.

    Lot's of great responses, here. I used to groan about passing the horses, but communicating clearly and actively really does seem to help. For the last few years I've been trying to be better about my interactions, announcing myself, asking how the ride is going, asking if the horse is comfortable with bicycles. I've still gotten yelled at once or twice, but a few times the rider has actually asked if I was comfortable allowing the horse a closer look.

    As was pointed out before in this thread, it really isn't the horse's fault so much as either the rider or trainer. They are, after all, the ones who are ultimately responsible for their animal and its behaviors to one level or another. I'm responsible for helping to mitigate what are, sometimes, their shortcomings through my own personal interest in surviving to ride again.

    I chalk making it a good interaction up to making good trail karma for everyone involved.

  13. #13
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    Honestly screw the horses and their riders. All they do is destroy the trails and crap all over the place. I'd like to go take a sh*&% in the owner's driveway every week and see how they feel about it. At least they could tie a crap bag or something behind the horse.

    I stay out of their way just because they are bigger and could hurt, don't care to interact much or be nice to the riders though...

    Flame suit on.

  14. #14
    Justin Vander Pol
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    Quote Originally Posted by jalm111 View Post
    Honestly screw the horses and their riders.
    The question is, how should we act so that mountain bikes aren't kicked off of certain trails, or are supported by other user groups when we want to build new ones? There's a bigger picture here. Tolerate horses and act civil in your own self interest.
    Issaquah & Seattle real estate agent. Buy or sell a home with me and I donate $500 to Evergreen MTB Alliance
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  15. #15
    Fake it 'til you make it
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    Word up.

  16. #16
    Justin Vander Pol
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    Quote Originally Posted by JLantz View Post
    Word up.

    "Fake it 'til you make it", your signature says. Much wisdom you have.

    /Yoda
    Issaquah & Seattle real estate agent. Buy or sell a home with me and I donate $500 to Evergreen MTB Alliance
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by juice View Post
    The question is, how should we act so that mountain bikes aren't kicked off of certain trails, or are supported by other user groups when we want to build new ones? There's a bigger picture here. Tolerate horses and act civil in your own self interest.
    Of course I tolerate them, I'm not an ass-hat or anything. I understand they have the same rights as we do and that we have to get along. But my opinion of them is still the same.

  18. #18
    Fake it 'til you make it
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    Quote Originally Posted by juice View Post
    "Fake it 'til you make it", your signature says. Much wisdom you have.

    /Yoda
    Come again?

  19. #19
    namagomi
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    Horses are so hard to please.

  20. #20
    I just wanna ride my bike
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    Good post Juice.

    In this finite world of ours there are some areas that attract many users so the best approach is team play. We defer to folks on horses regularly on the trails of the South Chilcotins in BC e.g. get off bikes on lower side of trail, chat to lead rider, etc. This helps to build respect between trail users and (hopefully) ensures we all work together when needed if trail access becomes a concern.

  21. #21
    Just roll it......
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    It's really just common sense to be courteous and give equestrians their space - especially in areas where they have historically been using the areas (Chilcotin's are a good example). In the past, I've gone out of my way to ensure that our group had a great relationship with the local equestrian group. It's also good to remember that these folks often have a bunch of clout with land managers.

    That's my only fear about the bike parks....a lot of newbs are brought into the sport and then think everywhere they ride can be treated the same. A bit of education for those folks goes a long way, so these posts here and on FB are important. Thanks Juice.

    EB

  22. #22
    Slothful dirt hippie
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheotherH View Post
    ... We defer to folks on horses regularly on the trails of the South Chilcotins in BC e.g. get off bikes on lower side of trail, chat to lead rider, etc. This helps to build respect between trail users and (hopefully) ensures we all work together when needed if trail access becomes a concern.
    Heck, I'd hang with horses ALL.DAY. just to ride up there... it's on my bucket list.
    "...Some local fiend had built it with his own three hands..."

  23. #23
    I just wanna ride my bike
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    Quote Originally Posted by verslowrdr View Post
    Heck, I'd hang with horses ALL DAY. just to ride up there... it's on my bucket list.
    You can do multi-day packhorse assisted trips...
    Feel free to PM me for any Chilcotin info when you're ready to empty that bucket.

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