MULTI-USER TRAILS: WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU MEET A HORSE
We recently met up with a group from the Oregon Equestrian Trails and they gave us key insights (shared below) on how to greet horses on the trails that are built for both 2 wheels and 4 hooves.
In today’s fast-paced, sometimes crazy world, we need a break, something that no candy bar or computer app is going to satisfy! What we need is time outdoors getting real sun, breathing fresh air, and really, just getting away from crowds of people.
We all have ways to do this, but some of us prefer to share our trail ride with a horse. Some riders come from generations of horseback riders, some have come into the horse world as adults, and some of us became equestrians as inbetweeners (yup, just made that one up): not really a kid but not really an adult. The commonality for most of us is a love for the outdoors, a love for horses, and the freedom to ride in areas we may not be able, physically, to hike or bike into.
We are lucky, here in the Northwest, to have access to many forms of outdoor recreation. We can head to the mountains, desert, or beach within hours of home. However, it is important to know a few things before you hit the trailhead.
Know before you go: you should do a little research before you head out on the trail. Whether you are biking it or hiking it, you may want to be prepared for what you may meet on the trail. If you are not into sharing the trail with horses or hikers, you may want to choose a bike-only trail. Same would go for hikers not wanting to share the trail with bikes or horses. As equestrians, we don’t have trails that are horse only, so we always share the trails with hikers often with bikes.
When you meet a horse and rider: Stop, Speak, Smile; horses can be easily startled by speeding bikes, which could endanger the horseback rider (and possibly the bike rider as well). When you stop and speak to the horse and rider, the horse will realize that you’re human and not dangerous. Communication between the bike or hiker and horseback rider will help all parties stay safe. The smiling part should help everyone in this situation to relax, and move on safely.
Control your dog: We also know that many people like to hike or bike with their dogs. Please obey the leash laws/rules for the trail. The leash is your lifeline to your dog. It is not a symbol of an ill-behaved dog, it symbolizes an owner’s caring and concern for the dog’s safety. Many horses see dogs as predators and some will even try to kick at a loose dog. If you have planned ahead and know horses may be on a trail you are taking your dog on, make sure you have a solid recall, just in case!
Ultimately we all need to watch out for each other on the trail and communicate with each other in a respectful and friendly manner.
- Oregon Equestrian Trails, NW Chapter