Yesterday I thought would be a great day to take BG out on her first trail ride. We were ready!
I prepared by deciding to leave really early to beat the heat. I also wanted to leave early so there would be less people and fuss at the nearby horse-friendly State Park.
I went alone because no one else was willing to get up that early to join me… So, all excited, I got up early, found my mount, popped her into the trailer and set sail to the park! Yeehaw! We were on the road and the new day was looking to be beautiful!
BG is the TWH mare that I spoke about recently… she is new to riding. Some of you may remember BG from a post I wrote a few weeks ago. It was about me walking her around my friend’s House of Horrors (according to BG) equestrian training facility. You can read the post here.
Anyway, you might surmise by the title and my lead-in, what I’m going to speak about today…
Green horses and numbskulls, idiots, evil doers, arrogant sods, asshats, discourteous bikers — together on trails.
MOUNTAIN BIKING IS GREAT!
First of all, let me declare, I love to ride a bike. Hubby mountain bikes as often as he can! I think it is a great form of exercise. And in our area, we have fabulous trails. So, I’m not against bikes. I’m against people on bikes who purposefully will not yield to a horse especially when they can obviously see that the horse is very nervous about them approaching at XGame speeds.
When you enter a State Park, usually, unless vandals have ripped it off, you will see a sign that says who can be there and who has the right of way. You’ve all seen them.
Common sense would tell you to read those signs because they are probably erected for a reason. Basically, even if you didn’t have any common sense, some one out there decided to help those with this short fall by placing big ol’ signs at the trail heads. So, if you didn’t really get it in your own head what the right and safe thing to do on the trail would be, there would be a nice sign that tells you how to act cooperatively and safely.
OK, maybe some bike riders are illiterate. I think that is why they made the signs with pictures. Or, you could say that some people may miss the signs when they get onto the trail head. And it could be true that some bikers have never seen a horse on a trail.
So, what does one do when they see a 1200 lbs animal on the trail for the first time? Hmmm. I would thiiiiiink that most people would stop and ponder. You’d think…
And, if one stopped to ponder, the equestrian would most likely thank the biker for his courtesy (or they should) and the biker would learn that stopping for a horse was a good idea.
Now let’s talk about the select few bikers that refuse to yield to any horse. Their argument goes something like this: Why should we yield to a horse? We have just as much right to be in the park as the horse. And, we ride really fast because that is what mountain biking is… and it would kill the buzz to slow down. “Fuggem” is their war cry!
I totally get why it would be a bit upsetting to the biker to have to stop when he is going along at a nice, fun clip. I know that I don’t like having to stop my horse when I’m flying along the trail, too. I dislike having to whoa-up when I see another horse who might not appreciate me coming up fast behind or coming up fast in front. It doesn’t matter. I need to stop and consider the state of mind of the other unknown horse and rider, even though it isn’t fun for me.
The reason? This seems like a no-brainer… It is dangerous. Simple. Would you rather put a stranger at risk for your speed buzz?
Terminal consequences for a fleeting choice…
WHAT HAPPENED TODAY
I wish I had the time to take out my camera and snap a photo of the schmuck biker I met today on the trail. But, with my horse doing the reverse stampede doesey-doe snortalong, I had no leisurely time to retract my heart that had jumped out of my mouth, let alone my camera phone. And, If I did have my hands on my phone, taking a picture is not what I would do with it… Besides resisting the desire to call my Uncle Guido to break his kneecaps (and bike), I’d probably throw my phone directly at his smirk.
But, I didn’t do what I would have liked to have done. Instead, I tried to commonsense him.
Let me tell you how it went down… I was riding along, alone, for the first time on a trail with my green horse. She was doing very well, I would say. She was alert and doing her job. But, I could feel the rubberband tightness under her “I’m on duty” hippity hop. She was listening, which was good, but she was barely touching the ground as we walked along. I could see her brain scanning the hillside, sure there were mountain cats or gorillas or some huge beasts in those dense woods.
I was singing. I kept assuring her that she was alright. And the best part, she was believing me. I was relaxing her. She was settling in and feeling confident. She trusted me. I was the leader and she was my trail buddy… And then…
WUUGGA WUUGA, SCHREEEECH, FLAPPY FLIPPITY FLAOP…
A bicycle was coming very fast and straight at us from about 200 yards. OK, well, I’ll just call out a friendly, Hello! and he/she will stop and wave me on.
Nope, he kept flying towards me, looking straight at me. WUGGA WUGGGGGA SHOOSH SHOOOOOSY SHOOSH…
I tensed a bit but told myself to relax. It didn’t work. BG amped into the OHMYGOD-WE-ARE-GONNA-DIE mode. Crabbing sideways up the hill and slipping, I yelled at the cyclist to PLEASE SLOW DOWN!.
“I HAVE JUST AS MUCH RIGHT TO BE HERE ARE YOU!”, was his ignorant rebel yell.
Well, if we had been having a calm discussion, I would have replied, but at the moment, I was preoccupied with my mare who was now on two feet and circling to find a way out of the path of the psycho thing coming right at her. What was this idiot going to do? Ride over us? I was now really, really angry.
I wheeled BG around and planted right across his path. I was so angry at the accident he nearly caused that I glared right into his ridiculous goggles and did not let my stare leave his until I had burned a new laser line through his equally ridiculous speedracer cap.
Both BG and I were eagle-eyed on him. I was actually proud of her. Somehow, in that instant, she went from fright to indignation, just as I had. We stood there and glared at him as he pedaled away.
He stopped. He turned around and yelled something at us.
(Now I know he’s a fool.)
What did you say?, I inquired, still standing rock solid and quiet.
“What the eff are you starin’ at?” (ooh, I hate incorrect grammar…)
“What’s your problem?”
“Oh really, how’s that? I’ve got as much right to be here as you do!”
Yes, that is correct. Did you read the RIGHT OF WAY signs when you entered the park?
“So. You shouldn’t be here if your horse can’t take it. You should train your horse.”
(I’m about to get off and bite him…)
-gritting my teeth- Do you have a minute? Because I would like to share with you some horse and bike information.
OK, well, let me put it to you this way… (He was straddling his bike being very confrontational as I continued…) Horses aren’t born with an innate understanding of wheeled objects. And, they are live animals, just like you. They have brains and they think and they have fear. You, who also has a brain and can think and has probably been frightened in your life — I would suspect that you, with your fine brain, could recognize fear in another animal. So, if you saw an animal with a human on it and the animal was obviously frightened, you would take your understanding of fear and consider the other human sitting on top of a 1200 lbs frightened animal. Or… you could, as in this case, decide that horses should automatically know not to be frightened when a bike comes flying directly at them without even a hint of granting space or slowing down. Actually, let’s say you were riding your bike and a CAR came barreling down on you playing chicken? Don’t you think you’d be a little upset with the driver of that car?
“Whatever bitch, you should train your horse if you want to come here…”
(thinking of having my friend the Sheriff pay him a visit, but instead I said…)
How about this then… Maybe this would be easier for you to understand. Consider your Mom or daughter or sister or Loved One was learning how to ride a horse on a trail designated for horses – kinda like this one. Then along comes some biker buzzing up behind her and the horse steps sideways to avoid the bike. The horse is perfectly trained but he is startled. Your Loved One goes flying and is gravely injured or killed… Are you going to think the bike rider was perfectly in his rights? Or, are you going to go to a lawyer with guns blazing saying that the stupid biker should have heeded the YIELD SIGNS in the park. After all, the signs are posted, right? Shouldn’t that biker have yielded to your sister/daughter/mother/girlfriend’s horse? Aren’t you going to say that your Loved One was injured because that idiot biker was being negligent not to stop when he saw the horse was spooking? Why didn’t the biker heed the posted warning signs and let the novice rider or novice horse be safe? You’d say there isn’t a judge in the nation who wouldn’t string up that biker… Right? Huh Mister? Tell me that. Tell me that you wouldn’t wish that the jacknuts biker who wouldn’t stop while your Mom was getting dumped by a frightened horse — should spend all of his remaining days wishing he had made a different choice on that fateful day. Right? You’d want that biker to rot in jail thinking what he should have done instead of what he did…
Fine. But, at least you will always remember what I’ve just said to you today. And I bet you are going to think about what I’ve said and you’re gonna stop your bike when you see a horse. If not, you are a fool and let whatever happens to you, happen to you… I did my part to shine the light on your ignorant self. You’d had your warning.
He said nothing.
And with that, BG and I rode off.
She had learned about bikes and I had learned that she was a very solid girl.
HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth… if you like this, please pass it around!
July’s Bucket Fund will benefit the charity THE GOLDEN CARROT SANCTUARY. To learn all about the Bucket Fund and to donate $5, please click on the photo (photo credit, Trish Lowe)