People are less used to meeting and dealing with any large animals these days, due to our mainly urban lifestyles.
What do I need to know?
Ask the rider
- Horses aren't out and about on their own, the rider is responsible for the horse, their own and your safety. Say hello, riders are people just like you.
- Horses are usually comfortable around humans walking, and even running near or past them, but the faster you move the more attention you need to pay. Horse eyesight is very different to ours, and can see nearly 360 degrees. Their vision is designed to capture fast movement, excellent hearing, and are hard-wired to escape danger.
- If you are approaching a horse from behind, be careful, and always make sure the rider knows you are coming. The horse has nearly 360 vision and hearing, the rider does not!
What Things Do Horses React to?
Fast movement will always attract attention, and often reaction.
For some reason an umbrella can cause panic in a horse. If you are walking near horses with one, keep an eye on the rider. If they are having a nervous fit as you approach, please take your umbrella down, slowly. Resist the urge to flick the rain out of it. Let the horse get well past before putting it up again.
Raincoats, plastic bags or other things that rustle or flap in the wind
Usually, this is just a case of ensuring that whatever it is, stops flapping. If you are at the beach this can also include beach towels, surfboards and other human 'weirdness' (weird from the horse's perspective).
Keep dogs under control around horses, preferably on a lead if you are not sure how your dog will react to seeing a horse. Remember horses are prey, and dogs are predators, even a friendly puppy will be viewed as a potential threat if it rushes at a horse. Herding breeds will often want to nip at heels, or chase a horse. A kick to your dog can kill it.
Most horses will not bat an eye at a runner either coming up behind them or toward them, but it will depend on how close you are to them, and how experienced they are. From a horse's point of view, someone running is either running from something (that they might need to run from too) or running at them (to eat them). In either case, this is something they tend to pay attention to. Be particularly aware of your own clothing, a rustling raincoat at running speed is something that many horses are very wary of.
Be particularly careful of small children around horses. Horses are generally very gentle towards little people (and often older people, and people with disabilities). But, children can move too fast, in an unpredictable manner, screech or shout, and get under foot. Teach the 1,2,3 game in the slideshow, so your children know how to act around horses.
A study of 10,000 people's fears showed 'fear of horses' did not rank in the top 110. Fear of clowns, babies, spiders all ranked higher than a fear of horses (or even large animals).