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Old 10-22-2012, 11:40 AM   #1
Wookazoid OP
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Proper etiquette when encountering horseback riders

I am curious how others would handle this situation: I was on a county (gravel) road this past Saturday morning and came up behind horseback riders (three of them, two adults and a young boy) going in the same direction I was traveling. I stopped when I saw them and waited for them to acknowledge my presence. They looked at me without moving for a while, then one rider moved slightly toward the right hand side of the road. I eased by slowly and his horse started to buck. My bike is not very loud (I run an FMF Q4 on my XR650L). Though he didn't fall off the horse, it still was spooked. My question is, what should I have done differently? There was no where to move off of the road since it was fenced on both sides.

I have met horseback riders many times on the trails in our local National Forest, but we usually meet going in opposite directions. My group of riders will stop, shut off our bikes and remove our helmets. We also greet the riders so the horses know we're "human". Even though we do this, the horses sometime will act uneasy. I guess I would too seeing a bunch of Power Rangers on strange bright colored alien space craft.

The last thing I want to do is see someone hurt. We also need to keep up a good rapport with the equestrian types since we have to work together to keep our trails open.

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Old 10-22-2012, 11:52 AM   #2
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I commend you for being a responsible and unselfish person first of all.
I have seen (or been on a horse) several times when people passed way too close and gave NO consideration at all.

If possible depending on positioning - Ask the riders "how should I pass you?" or " is it safe for me to pass you now?" I probably wouldn't ask a question with a Yes or No answer like"May I pass you." Some people (especially younger ones) may just reply Yes or No and not give you any direction.

The times I have been asked I have dismounted and held the horse's reins when I was on a horse that wasn't "bombproof." And I really appreciated the consideration.
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Old 10-22-2012, 12:00 PM   #3
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Years ago, I was riding my old RM400 near my house near Monterey. Some guys on horseback started yelling at us from across a field, so naturally, we just flipped them off. Mind your own business, I'll mind mine. Well we are putting around, staying as far away as we could, when one of them decides he's going to go all cowboy on us, and comes over and starts talking shit, so we hop on our bikes, and are riding along this fence line, when apparently, he decides he's going to head us off at the end of the fence, and starts galloping across this field towards the end of the fence. and tries to block the jeep road we were on. Very hostile-like. Well, an old RM400, will do 50 mph wheelies, and a horse will get the fuck out of the way, whether the rider likes it or not. I have no idea what he was trying to do. I just know that when someone comes at me all hostile, I will not stop. You come over calmly, I'll stop and talk to you.

And yes, it was a regular riding area, back then, things were pretty wide open (late 70s, early 80s). I think it was National Forest land, do what you want, don't start any fires.
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Old 10-22-2012, 12:04 PM   #4
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I’ve been in the same situation a number of times in our local mountains. If they’re coming my way I always shut the engine off, move to the side, let them pass, and wait for them to be far enough away before going on my way. If I come up on someone like you did I do what jdfog2 suggests as well. I always push the bike well beyond the horses before starting off being careful not to stir up too much dust as I continue on.
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Old 10-22-2012, 12:08 PM   #5
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As one who has ridden motos and horses in the woods for many years, I can say when most horses spook its because they sensed some uneasiness in their rider, I.e., the rider spooks first. I have a couple that you would have trouble keeping up with on tight single track, and they wouldn't care if you were behind them. A good horses is totally into the rider and isn't thinking on their own. That said, you will run into riders who do it infrequently and haven't bonded with their mount, and are already nervous. You come up on a motor and the rider is thinking train wreck and the horses senses that and reacts. They are a "flight" animal, on there own they will flee and then later when they think they are safe will turn around and look at what they were running from. As for the motos, the horses heard them and smelled them long before the rider did. Mountain bikes can be a different story.

So just be courteous and give them room. Look to the rider and see if he or she wants you to pass a certain way or stay stopped until the horses can walk past. I dont think you need to remove gear, the horse already knows your human and therider may want to just get the little meet up over with asap.
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Old 10-22-2012, 12:18 PM   #6
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I had my answer all ready, UNTIL I read you were going the same direction... I would agree that asking them how they'd like you to pass would be the safest and most courteous way to go about it. The last thing I would want is 1500 pounds of pure "stupid" freaking out on me. Someone would certainly get hurt...
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Old 10-22-2012, 12:22 PM   #7
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I didn't read the thread, but I'll tell ya one thing. You sure as hell don't want to marry one.

You're welcome,
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Old 10-22-2012, 12:45 PM   #8
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I normally drop down to low RPMs in second gear, to minimize exhaust noise, proceed slowly on the opposite edge of the road (riders typically will move to one side or the other) from the horses, and keep it slow until I am a good 50 yards or so past the horse(s). After that, slow throttle acceleration up to normal speed.
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Old 10-22-2012, 02:38 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Jim Moore View Post
I didn't read the thread, but I'll tell ya one thing. You sure as hell don't want to marry one.

You're welcome,
unless you are Mathew Broderick

In my experience horse riders are a bunch of pricks who resent our existence so I only concerned myself with their safety. I had no problem killing the motor, pushing the bike by etc but if they gave attitude I had little patience for them. Of course this was in southern ca where they are the cowboy equivalent of pirates on harleys ie. doctors and lawyers.
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Old 10-22-2012, 04:28 PM   #10
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I didn't read the thread, but I'll tell ya one thing. You sure as hell don't want to marry one.

You're welcome,
Buddy of mine is living with one right now. BSC doesn't BEGIN to describe a horse person.

AFA the passing the horses: I'm usually on a pedal bike, so will slow down and talk to the horse as I'm coming up on it 'howya doin, horse?!' stuff like that. I figger it lets em know I'm a person not a thing. So far its been working.

On a moto, I'll usually putt by slowly as far away as possible.

I don't typically stop. I'll be as courteous as I can, but I'm gonna keep going.

M
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Old 10-22-2012, 01:24 PM   #11
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I give them as wide a birth as possible but in my opinion, if the horse is out where it will encounter motorcycles or ATVs etc....the rider should have control of the animal. It's really not my responsibility to make sure their horse doesn't get spooked. I don't buzz by them at high speed but I'm not going to sit and wait while they pass or wait for instructions as to how they would like me to pass. I treat them like anyone else I meet, give them room and slow down as I pass....
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Old 10-22-2012, 01:26 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by offcamber View Post
i give them as wide a birth as possible but in my opinion, if the horse is out where it will encounter motorcycles or atvs etc....the rider should have control of the animal. It's really not my responsibility to make sure their horse doesn't get spooked. I don't buzz by them at high speed but i'm not going to sit and wait while they pass or wait for instructions as to how they would like me to pass. I treat them like anyone else i meet, give them room and slow down as i pass....
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Old 10-22-2012, 03:32 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Offcamber View Post
I give them as wide a birth as possible but in my opinion, if the horse is out where it will encounter motorcycles or ATVs etc....the rider should have control of the animal. It's really not my responsibility to make sure their horse doesn't get spooked. I don't buzz by them at high speed but I'm not going to sit and wait while they pass or wait for instructions as to how they would like me to pass. I treat them like anyone else I meet, give them room and slow down as I pass....
Our house is on my brothers horse farm, he, his wife and daughters are heavily into the equistrian thing but I have no interest.
Their opinion is that a slow and easy pass is all that should be nessary unless the horse starts to spook, then you should just stop and let the rider regain control.

It is the responsibility of the equestrian to ride in locations suitable for the horses and riders skill level.
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Old 10-22-2012, 04:33 PM   #14
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Q: What's the quickest way to turn a pristine mountain meadow into a shit filled, mud hole.

A: Let a few horses walk through it.

Those stinky, fly infested, pestilent shit bags have no business on public lands. They do much more damage to our beloved forest and desert land than all OHV's combined, yet because they are dubiously enshrined in folk lore, they are held harmless, regardless of the environmental damage they wreak upon the lands. It is every every outdoor loving patriot's responsibility to lobby to get those flea bags banned from our parks, forests and range. On private land, people can do as they wish, as long as they keep the smell off of others property..

OTH, there are humans involved, and I think you accorded them a due amount of respect. Your primary concern should be for your own safety. Those ungainly nags can be highly unpredictable, stay as far away as terrain permits and pass by slowly. Next, you must accord the riders the same amount of respect as you would any other person on a dirt road don't kick up dust, don't roost them, don't pass at high speeds or cause them any other grief and yield to uphill traffic.

On a trail is dangerous situation, I'd park my bike, dismount, move to a safe distance and plug your nose with thumb and forefinger. In addition to protecting your sense of smell, this will send the appropriate message to the equestrian rider.
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glasswave screwed with this post 10-22-2012 at 11:58 PM
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Old 10-24-2012, 06:39 PM   #15
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Q: What's the quickest way to turn a pristine mountain meadow into a shit filled, mud hole.

A: Let a few quads drive through it.

.
Fixed it for you.
You don't seriously believe that there's any comparison to the damage done by horses versus the damage done by quads when off trail and into pristine places do you?
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