- In many families and socal groups different members may enjoy different activities: some on horses, some on cycles, others walking or running. Sharing trails, and paths allows these families, or groups of friends, to enjoy recreation together.
- Trails built for tourism should always be built for the max number of users. Excluding a user group, excludes potential income for businesses along the trail (often the people who pay for it).
- Behave ethically - cyclists have complained long, and loud about the way they are treated by many motorists, and been excluded from road safety. Surely it is hypocrisy to show the same selfish behaviours to others?
Bikes and Horses
Cyclists are generally more considerate of horse riders than motorists, because we both have the same issues sharing roads with vehicles. However sometimes cyclists forget, or don't know that a horse's eyesight is almost 360 degrees, mainly built for detecting fast movement, and almost hard-wired to their fight-flight instincts*.
NEVER pass a horse from behind without letting the rider know you are there!
Cyclists who whizz past are in real danger; inevitably going just wide enough to be in the perfect strike zone for a kick to the head. A horse's reactions are around twice as fast as a human. The rider cannot save you from a kick, even if they know you are there. Most horses will not kick, but is it worth the risk? Generally, the horse will reflexively 'jump', just as you jump when you get a fright. This is not something they, nor the rider, can control. It is triggered by the fast movement in their peripheral vision. It is often so fast that the rider is 'left behind' (in mid-air, and then on the ground). At best the riders is frightened, or annoyed at your lack of manners, at worst they may be seriously injured. If you haven't even looked behind, you may leave an injured person in your wake.
Tips for safe cycling with horses
- Don't assume that all horses have seen cycles before, some may not.
- If in doubt, stop and talk to the rider - the horse may be confused by such a strange looking beast, but will be reassured to hear a human voice (and realise cycling is just another weird thing that humans do).
- Some horses associate the 'ticking' noise of a cycle with the ticking of an electric fence, and may be wary.
A horse's reaction time is much faster than a rider's; a rider cannot save you from a kick if they do not know you are coming.
Riders can't see or hear as well as the horse, make sure the rider knows you are coming!
Keep everyone safe, including yourself. Call out 'hello' or 'bike' with sufficient warning to allow the horse rider to take appropriate action.
Do not just call out, and keep on coming at speed. Wind, road noise, how loud you are, and even the state of the rider's concentration or hearing all affect whether they have heard you or not. This is particularly important for peletons of cycles - just yelling out to the rider as you whizz past is not good enough! Don't be as rude as the drivers you complain about.
Wait until the rider acknowledges that they have heard you.
We can all share the roads, trails and paths safely!
* There is much scientific debate about whether a horse's reaction to fast movement is being processed by the brain at all! Some believe the nervous system sends reactions to fast movement detected by the eyes directly to the legs and escape reaction. It may be similar to when a doctor hits your knee with a mallet.