Outreach and communication for the WIN! at Stub Stewart State Park...
The NWTA Bike Patrol group arranged for a joint event with Oregon Equestrian Trails (OET) group at Stub Stewart State Park on July 15th which was attended by 5 mountain bikers and 6 equestrians with their horses. It was a great first step and all who participated looked forward to doing it again in the future. Please 'read more' for some great insights about sharing the trail with equestrians.
This event was advertised both by NWTA and OET to members.
In the morning, after a brief Bike Patrol information meeting at Hilltop, we regrouped at the Clayhill Horse Staging area near the horse camp within Stub Stewart Park. This was a positive event with some solid information sharing between each group. No surprises.. we're all trail users and have many of the same concerns and issues. Getting people involved to help with maintaining trails, communicating among members and to general public, doing what we can to help as stewards of the trails we enjoy using...!
We paired off with individual equestrians and their horse to help expose to various situations they may encounter out on trails. Blind corners with mountain bikers skidding to stop, squeeking disc brakes, spinning wheels and crunching gravel behind, fullface helmets, and other typical mountain biker<->horse rider encountered and interactions.
Afterwards, each group headed out for a group ride, then came back at 2pm for a BBQ hosted by OET.
You already know the general "share the trail" ettiquette, but please take this opportunity to review:
- Stop at least 30 feet from the horse.
- Greet the equestrian and the horse to demonstrate that you are a human, and not a predator.
- Ask for instruction on how to pass safely. Offer to get off your bike.
- Pass slowly and steadily, but only after the equestrian gives you the go-ahead. Sudden movements can spook a horse!
Its all about friendly interaction with trail users!
The OET members especially wanted to make sure the mountain biking community understand a few thigns about horses behaviors. They are both "herd animals" and "prey animals". They are very intelligent but with some natural instincts which should be respected. Following the above simple trail ettiquette rules mainly addressing those traits.
Here's more hints discussed during the event:
Stand downhill of trail. Horses naturally will want to shy uphill if frightened (and they might spook not from your prescence but from other sounds or movement as you are passing). Let the horse know you are a HUMAN (and not a cougar) at the earliest chance when you encounter equestrian riders on the trail - you can do that simply by saying hello to the rider and talking. Your calm voice speaking friendly goes a LONG way (both with the horse as well as the rider).
WARNING! A horse with red flag attached to it's tail is indication that he/she likes to kick if frightened. Take extra care and distance when approaching or passing.
Here's what Steve Emory with Oregon Equestrian Trails group has shared with members who receive their newsletter:
Three OET people took up the mountain bike riders offer of help on working with individual horses. My wife's mare Reba had two bikers, Robert & Lisa, with her for about an hour. We started with her a little skittish to get to close to them in the parking area, and at the end of an hour she was approaching them at stops on single tracks for baby carrots. We did go through a LOT of carrots though Reba did not mind that at all. After some initial leading on the ground work, we did following & leading the horses by bike. Bikes coming around blind corners. Bikes coming up from behind, and from in front. On the way back to the parking area, Reba decided she wanted to keep up with her new "herd" members (Or maybe just the carrot givers) on mountain bikes. Reba improved immensely in the hour and it was a great success.
Over lunch we continued to discuss trail maintenance/building, access issues around the area. Dogs off leash fears on trails. Many of the mountain biker's concerns are equestrian concern as as well. Both groups have similar concerns for more trail access and communications.
Overall, there was much friendly interaction between all participants, and we'll definitely be doing this again in the Fall.