It’s a Horse, of Course

by Arlyn on May 19, 2009

The Straight Poop…

I’m flying down a rocky fire road, going like a bat out of hell trying to catch Mark. I’m maybe 20 feet off his wheel, looking for a place to pass and his dust is choking me. I think about the amount of horse poop I’ve seen that day and I wonder just how much I’m inhaling. When did it become ok for your animal to leave scads of poop wherever they happened to be when they got the urge?

Horse Poop

Sorry to be so graphic, but this is horse poop.
Photo cc Horrortaxi

If my dog pooped on that trail, I’d be expected to clean it up, no? If I pooped on that trail, I might just get arrested and charged with a sex crime.

I don’t understand why horse poop is special.

No Bikes Allowed!

Mark and I climbed 1,000 feet in about 1.5 miles to get access to a fire road that leads to some promising backcountry. We sweat and grind our way to the top only to find a “No Bikes” sign on the trail. I see a lot of “No Bikes” signs on trails, usually on the choicest single track. I’ve only seen one “No Horses” sign and that was pretty weird and probably just the exception that proves the rule.

No Bikes Allowed

Can’t we share?
Photo cc micamonkey

Why can’t horses share trails with the rest of us? We happily share with them, even when they are in the vast minority (like in Rancho Penasquitos Canyon Preserve).

Why are horse-people so greedy?

Who is Afraid of Who?

Mark, Andy and I are having the time of our life hammering away at a new section of single track. I can’t begin to describe the beauty of that moment; weaving down and up narrow single track that is often hidden by wildflowers and grass. The sky was clear, a light breeze and perfect sunshine.

We hammer around a corner and see a group of horses and their riders. As we come to a stop, one of the horses kinda freaks out, rearing up and trying what looked to me to “get the hell out of there”. The horses were obviously very frightened of us. The rider did not fall off thankfully, but there were a few tense moments as she got the animal back under control.

We moved off the narrow trail to let the equestrians pass and they were very nice. Pleasantries were exchanged on such a glorious day.

Robotic Horse?

Maybe we could invent mechanical horses that aren’t so afraid – oh wait, that’s a bike.
Photo cc Dan Shouse

Why do people ride 1,000 pound animals that are scared of people on bikes? I can imagine that a frightened, rearing, kicking horse could seriously injure and maybe even kill someone – its rider or maybe me.

But How Do You Really Feel?

I don’t really have a problem with equestrians. I see why they appreciate the beauty and power of these animals. I just don’t get why cyclists are treated so differently. We all want to have a great day on the trail, right? We’re more the same than we are different, that’s for sure.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Scott May 21, 2009 at 10:20 am

A few reasons for different treatment come to my mind:
1) People have been riding horses a lot longer than bicycles. I don’t think we can or should expect people to stop riding horses just because a lot of people have taken up mountain biking.
2) Horse poop is not that far removed from hay, unless it’s particularly fresh. Dog poop, whether fresh or old is always nasty. Excrement from herbivores is much more benign than that of carnivores. Of course, they do make those diapers for horses.
3) A few bad apples have ruined mountain biking for the majority of courteous cyclists. Some people feel they have personal ownership of trails and the result is that horse riders who have negative encounters with bicyclists will advocate to their local governments to get bicycles off the trails. Since bicycles are the new kids in town, ordinances usually favor the horse.
4) Horses are always afraid of being eaten. It is a base instinct for them. They are always on guard for mountain lions and wolves, and a human on a bike can be a very scary thing for a horse. You never know a horse’s temperament, so when you encounter a horse, it’s best to dismount, talk to the rider to establish a level of trust between all involved (including the horse) and let the horse pass.

Not that you didn’t already know all this stuff. Just wanted to throw it out there.

Arlyn May 21, 2009 at 10:38 am

Hi Scott, all good points. I certainly don’t expect people to stop riding horse, nor should they. I just want to share and share alike.

Scott May 21, 2009 at 1:02 pm

Yeah the “no bicycles” sign is very sad. Throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Great post by the way.

Arlyn May 21, 2009 at 3:25 pm

Thanks Scott!

Janedoe October 26, 2013 at 3:22 pm

Horses are natural prey. The reason questions don’t want you people on their trails is cause their horses will spook and you’ll tear up the paths. Another thing is that you can ride horses in places where you can’t ride bikes. Don’t hate on horses cause I know many people who ride horses and bikes that would ride their horse instead of a bike any day. You wouldn’t understand cause you don’t have to control a have ton animal that doesn’t understand anything you say.

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