Remember: Horses are animals with minds of their own. Unlike a hiker or a bike rider, someone on a horse does not always have total control over their horse...
If you are on a shared use trail where you may encounter horses (Prairie trails at HPT), it is your responsibility to know what to do.
What should you do when you encounter a horse:
What NOT to do:
- If you are hiking move off or to the side of the trail.
- If you are biking, get off your bike. Yes, you should get off your bike. This helps the horse recognize that you are a human (versus some weird thing with wheels attached to it).
- This is probably the most important thing you can do. If the horse sees you standing there and not saying anything, instinct tells it that you are a predator. Say hello to the rider and try to strike up a conversation. This will calm the horse and also does wonders for relations between all trail users. Talk about the weather or talk about the trail. After all we are all out there for the same reason, just doing it in different ways.
- Ask the rider what you should do.
- Sometimes the rider will ask you to continue walking or riding while they wait on the side of the trail. Sometimes they will pass through while you wait. Again, remember that horses have individual personalities and only the horse's owner/rider knows that personality. Trust their judgment.
- Take EXTRA care if approaching the horse from behind.
- Horses can't see behind themselves very well, so approaching from behind can be dangerous to both the equestrian and the hiker or biker. Again, communication is critical: gently announce, well in advance, to let them know that you are approaching from behind.
- Don't stand there silently.
- This makes the horse think you might be a predator and the horse might run as a result.
- Don't speed past by the horse.
- This is almost certain to startle the horse which puts the equestrian and YOU in danger.
- Don't do anything that might startle the horse.
- This might include yelling or making your brakes squeal.