Category Archives: Handy Tips

MT. BIKERS vs EQUESTRIANS: An explanation of horses to bikers – written by a biker






You have all heard me rant about bikers that seem to have no regard for equestrians.

I’ve had an accident caused by a biker and many near misses since we live in a hilly and curvy landscape…  Hilly and curvy makes for great riding and also many blind and speedy corners.

Yikes.

tayandcrystal-bike-horse

WHAT TO SAY TO CYCLISTS?

I know that I always thank cyclist who are kind towards equestrians.  But, what do you say to those who aren’t  respectful?

Usually, I yell something like, “It wouldn’t be funny if this was your kid on board!”… but they’re so far down the trail they never hear me.

So, when I saw this posted on our Equestrian board today, I thought some of you out there might find this handy if you get the chance to offer a cyclist’s explanation to other cyclists about equine safely.

HERE IS WHAT WAS WRITTEN:
The Silicon Valley Mountain Bikers, an International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) affiliate, has posted information for mt. bikers on their shared trails that is thoughtful and informed. Please share with other horse and bike groups and with your friends who mountain bike so they can understand how to keep everyone safe on our multi-use trails:

Getting on with Equestrians

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FROM SILICON VALLEY MOUNTAIN BIKERS –
GETTING ON WITH EQUESTRIANS
Cruising down your favorite stretch of singletrack, you alertly notice something in the trail ahead. Actually you don’t have to be too alert, because this something is BIG. “Long nose, pointy ears and a person on its back,” your mind calculates rapidly as your fingers automatically bring you and your rig gently to a stop. “Must be a horse.” Talking about anything that comes to mind — the weather, trail conditions, what you had for breakfast — you move off the trail (to the downhill side if possible) and stand quietly as you ask the riders if they have enough rooom to pass. Careful not to make any sudden movements as they approach, you continue chatting until they have passed you by. Then it’s back on the bike, up to speed and back into “the zone.”

It seems simple enough. Good trail etiquette and safety call for mountain bikers to yield to other users. But when that other user is a horse, some extra precautions are necessary. Why? You could call it the nature of the beast.

The most important thing for a bicyclist to know is that a horse reverts to instinct when it is frightened. As the species developed, survival depended on a good flight response, and that instinct is never far from the surface in a horse. In short, if you spook a horse, it will try to escape. This may include a sudden turn or rearing, which could unseat a rider.

The next important thing to keep in mind is that horses are big and powerful. When you go down and your bike lands on you it’s usually not a big deal. Twelve hundred pounds of horse is another matter.

So it’s very important, for your safety and the equestrian’s, that you not spook a horse. It’s also important, if we are to share trails with equestrians, that we get along.

Some horses are so tame that nothing fazes them. Others will go ballistic at the slightest pretext. Most are somewhere in between. When you see a horse, assume first that it is on the flighty side. Ask the rider if it is OK around mountain bikes and if there is anything he or she needs you to do. Often, equestrians prefer voice alerts over bells – the human voice helps the horse identify the cyclist as a friendly human and not a potential threat or predator. A greeting such as, “Hi! Great weather today!” is appropriate coming from in front or behind. Horses recognize the human voice as safe and a spoken salutation helps offset the potentially threatening appearance of a bike.

On tight single track it is best to get off your bike and let horseback riders pass. Get off on the uphill side so that the horse can’t slip down on you or kick you.

(Note: A bike above a horse can look threatening; downhill, not so much.)

You can also look for a few symptoms that will clue you in that a horse is nervous. Horses are fidgety and susceptible to other horses’ behavior. If a horse is halted on a narrow trail it may not necessarily stand still, and it may lose its footing causing it to attempt to save itself from falling down a slope. This in turn will agitate other nearby horses that interpret the situation as dangerous. Some horses may try to turn around. This can be treacherous for the horseback riders.

The first clue is the ears. Pointed ahead they are in the “alert” mode. This isn’t necessarily bad. It just means the horse is paying attention. Ears laid flat back against the head mean the horse is in a nasty mood, and probably about to bite or kick. Sometimes a horse will flick its ears back and forth slowly. This means it’s on mental cruise control, and possibly trying to keep flies from landing. A more significant clue, but one that requires being closer, is the eyes. If they are rolling and really wide open, look out. Half open, the horse is relaxed. There are other clear indicators of agitation. A horse that is prancing, sidestepping and snorting is obviously close to coming unglued. A twitchy, swirling tail is another indicator of equine anxiety. If you do see a horse in an agitated state, move slowly away if possible, and talk in a calm voice. Do not make any sudden moves. The rider will probably give you directions. But don’t assume, if the rider says nothing, that you are being ignored. It might be that horse and rider are deep in conversation, one you can’t hear because the rider is “cueing” the horse nonverbally, with subtle pressure of knee, heel, toe and reins.

Understanding horses
Horses are prey animals and have been bred only recently into large animals. In prehistoric times they were much smaller. Horses may still think they are small. Even though to us they are truly powerful and potentially dangerous animals, horses don’t see themselves this way. Therefore it is erroneous to assume that a horse has confidence and a sense of security just because it is big and powerful. Small, seemingly innocuous things will spook them. When a rider is perched on the back of a scared horse, it can be a precarious situation.

Horses are farsighted, so things up close are blurry. They cannot see directly in front or behind themselves. When a bicyclist comes around a blind corner and suddenly appears within 50 ft of the horse, the horse cannot readily identify what is heading towards it. Since the horse is a prey animal it is normal behavior for it to flinch and desire to flee. Obviously this is not good for any rider on its back.

Other considerations
Remember also that just as there are beginning bicyclists, there are rookie equestrians. Just as we lose control of our bikes, some of them may not be in full control of their animals.

In the parking lot, try to be considerate of the needs of equestrians. One former riding acquaintance (and he is “former” because of this incident) pulled his car right behind a horse trailer, making it impossible for the riders to load up without moving their rig. When I pointed this out to him, he said that he had done it on purpose. I didn’t say anything at the time, but never rode with him again. Today I wouldn’t be so shy. I see people like that as jeopardizing my access to trails, and they deserve to be chewed out for their stupidity.

Another consideration in the parking lot is for the space a pickup and trailer needs to maneuver. Try not to crowd turnaround and parking spaces.

Getting on with equestrians is a matter of a little knowledge, consideration, common sense and awareness. And getting along with equestrians increases our chances for sharing trails, so it’s well worth the effort.

But if you really want to gain an understanding of the equestrian’s point of view, try riding a horse. It may not be the same feeling as gliding down a smooth stretch of singletrack, but it’s a lot of fun. And the hills are definitely easier.
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Xena is hanging in there and doing her best to heal... She has a new pink halter!  Click to read her story!

Xena is hanging in there and doing her best to heal… She has a new pink halter! Click to read her story!


Supporting The Bucket Fund through Amazon Smile
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Riding Warehouse
Your purchase with Riding Warehouse through this link helps the Bucket Fund!



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FRIDAY IS UPDATE DAY: Bodhi’s gash popped open!






BEFORE WE BEGIN:  WE ARE ORDERING BITLESS LG BRIDLES THIS WEEK (FROM GERMANY).  IF YOU WANT ONE, PLEASE LET ME KNOW VIA THIS LINK.  YOU CAN READ TESTIMONIALS THERE FROM THE OTHERS WHO HAVE PURCHASED THIS AMAZING (IMHO) BRIDLE!

DECEMBER RIDING WAREHOUSE DIVIDEND!

Well, we didn’t do so well during December.  I’m guessing that you all were purchasing presents for others  instead of yourselves.  Me, too!  ;)

But, as we say, ‘every little bit helps’!  So, the BF is now a bit richer from your purchases.

Thank you!

Our Bucket Fund dividend for the month of December.
Our Bucket Fund dividend for the month of December.

BODHI’S OWIE POPPED!

UGH.

I so wanted this to simply heal up and be easy… but it wasn’t so.

(To read about Bodhi’s injury, click here.)

Yup… the usual vet came by on Friday and pulled the drain.  I wasn’t there.

As an aside, I love a vet who will come out and fix your horse, even if you aren’t there.  Love that.  Thank you, Mike.

Anyway, he pulled the drain and said it looked pretty good!

Well… he didn’t say it looked pretty good, he left a note written on roll paper that was stuck to my hose holder.

Love that!

So, when I fed on Friday night, I felt pretty good about things…

ON SATURDAY I fed in the morning, and his wound looked weepy and swollen.  Later that night, it looked worse.

ON SUNDAY… this actually happened…I had my headlamp on because I had to feed early.  I was shining the light right on his side while feeding him because I was looking at the wound.  Bodhi took a big sigh (because he loves his food) and it popped.

Literally.

Boom!   Plafffy plop!  Fluid drained and it came apart like a zipper.

Ugh.

So, I called the vet.

He came out again on Monday and left another note written on roll paper and stuck to the hose holder.  The note said that he thought it didn’t look that bad ‘considering…’ and that I should flush it daily and put an antibiotic cream on it.

And that is exactly what I’ve been doing – mostly.  As you all know by now, my GO TO cream for just about everything is THE BALM!  So, after feeding Bodhi near my hose with the appropriate nozzle spray, I schmeared the Balm all over the freshly flushed wound that day and every day since.

*I also had a tester of Emu Oil.  I didn’t really want to use it because I felt badly for the emu.  The only way to get Emu Oil is to kill the emu.  I’d rather find a friendlier method of healing my horse than Emu Oil.  But, I did have the sample so I also used that in there today.  We’ll see if there is any difference.  Of course, one day probably won’t show anything…  Emu Oil is supposed to be a skin and healing wonder drug…  But again, for me, I’d rather not use a product that takes the life of another being.

Bodhi's beautiful stitch and sealed repair didn't last...

Bodhi’s beautiful stitch and sealed repair didn’t last…

Yup, Bodhi's incision popped all the way open like a zipper.  The old vet told me to flush it really well daily and apply antibiotic cream.  So, I have been hosing it well and schmearing THE BALM! (EquiSpa) on it twice daily - especially if he rolls...
Yup, Bodhi’s incision popped all the way open like a zipper. The old vet told me to flush it really well daily and apply antibiotic cream. So, I have been hosing it well and schmearing THE BALM! (EquiSpa) on it twice daily – especially if he rolls…  The stuff under the wound is Vaseline.  This keep the weeping serum from irritating his coat.
Bodhi at the washing station... I feed him while I hose the wound.  He lets me, thank HorseGod.  Then, I slather in THE BALM.  I put Vaseline under and Voila!  I'll keep you posted.

Bodhi at the washing station… I feed him while I hose the wound. He lets me, thank HorseGod. Then, I slather in THE BALM. I put Vaseline under and Voila! I’ll keep you posted.

Xena was on TV News last night!  I hope that helped with her GO FUND ME campaign.  If you'd like to help, please click image to go to read her story!

Xena was on TV News last night! I hope that helped with her GO FUND ME campaign. If you’d like to help, please click image to go to read her story!


Supporting The Bucket Fund through Amazon Smile
Please choose HORSE AND MAN, INC when you shop via Amazon Smile through this link.


Riding Warehouse
Your purchase with Riding Warehouse through this link helps the Bucket Fund!



HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth... if you like this, please pass it around!