Proper etiquette when encountering horseback riders

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by Wookazoid, Oct 22, 2012.

  1. Wookazoid

    Wookazoid Tree Basher

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    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.

    Greg
    #1
  2. jdfog2

    jdfog2 Been here awhile

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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.
    #2
  3. corndog67

    corndog67 Banned

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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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  4. German Trick

    German Trick Long timer

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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.
    #4
  5. PineyMountainRacing

    PineyMountainRacing Oops....

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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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  6. rgoers

    rgoers Been here awhile

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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...
    #6
  7. Jim Moore

    Jim Moore Long timer

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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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  8. Yossarian™

    Yossarian™ Deputy Cultural Attaché

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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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  9. Offcamber

    Offcamber Long timer

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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....
    #9
  10. Wlfman

    Wlfman Long timer

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    +1
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  11. Wolfgang55

    Wolfgang55 Long timer

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    Last April we (group of 5) were riding in the mt area in Gila Nat Forest. Been here a few times but my guys had not.

    During a rest stop, we started to hear some high pitch sounds & then a few dogs moving cattle. There was a lady w/ nearly a dozen dogs moving cattle. I had my guys sit down on the ground & grab their cameras. The cattle were near wild & the dogs were totally ignoring us. They passed about 25 yds from us, all being still like little deer.

    I don't chase cattle, horses or sheep. But have seen some of the dumbs videos posted. These critters usually out weigh deer by a long shot. But having a person on the back of a horse is another problem. We are the ones in control here.

    That helmets off thing is huge in making eye contact w/ riders & not spooking the horses. Whatever it takes to get seperated is the best way. Fences only add to the problem. Barb wire is rough on man & beast.

    May sound strange but my uncle had horses that got uneasy when someone w/o a western style cover approached them.
    One stupid horse seems to infect the others.........sometimes humans follow that same lack of thinking.
    #11
  12. miguelitro

    miguelitro Chuchaqui

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    unless you are Mathew Broderick:rofl

    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.
    Mike
    #12
  13. NJ-Brett

    NJ-Brett Brett

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    If they are coming the other way, I stop and shut the engine off, then tell the people they are fine looking horses.
    If its the same direction, they always go off trail and wave me by, and I lug the engine and go by slowly till I am out of sight.
    If they do not get over, I would go by at a moderate pace, the horses around here seem used to motors and such.
    #13
  14. Bucho

    Bucho Long timer

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    I would stop and shut the bike off, and give the riders the chance to move thier horse over to the right as much as they want.
    If they don't seem to want to do that, then just give plenty of room and ease on by.

    I think its a little ridiculous for them to expect dirtbike riders to take their helmets off. Unless I'm stopping to have a conversation, I don't take mine off.

    I'm about 60/40 w/ equestrian people being nice or jerks. I'm sure some will kinda hate dirtbike guys just on principle. But I've also met plenty who were equally polite and civil.
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  15. Hurricane Bob

    Hurricane Bob Long timer

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    <iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/OwUN2iQI9V8" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
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  16. windmill

    windmill Long timer

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    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.
    #16
  17. Gummee!

    Gummee! That's MR. Toothless

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    Buddy of mine is living with one right now. BSC doesn't BEGIN to describe a horse person. :nod

    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. :nah I'll be as courteous as I can, but I'm gonna keep going.

    M
    #17
  18. glasswave

    glasswave Been here awhile

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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.
    #18
  19. Wookazoid

    Wookazoid Tree Basher

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    Thanks for the input. I asked a couple of horse guys I work with and they both said that I probably did the right thing. They also said that no one should ride a horse on a public road/trail that is skittish when confronted by vehicles. Still, I feel as if I should have at least shut my bike off and asked about how they would want me to pass, which is what I will do the next time.

    I'm personally not a horse person having had some bad experiences when I was a young. I decided early on that dirt bikes were a lot more safe given that if I crash, it would typically be my fault and not due to an animal many times my size. Still, I respect someone's right to ride and here in Arkansas, horse riders are for the most part, pretty nice people. We have a lot of multi-use trails in our National Forests and the mountain bikers, dirt bikers and horseback riders seem to all do their part in keeping the trails open (maintenance, etc.).

    As far as damage caused by horses, their impact is far less than the redneck ATVers I've seen.

    Greg
    #19
  20. glasswave

    glasswave Been here awhile

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    Yeah, horse riders are nice people for the most part, they can't really seem to help their affinity for those nags. We should pity them really. :lol3

    In terms of damage, there is one critical difference, ATV's are not allowed to run roughshod over our parks and wilderness lands like horses.:cry
    #20