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View Full Version : Group Ride Etiquette: Works Both Ways



JollyBadger
Jan. 5, 2010, 01:34 PM
I was reading a thread on another forum about trail etiquette when riding in groups. Of course, people talked about riding at the level of the least experienced horse and rider, allowing all horses a chance to drink at a stream before moving off, spacing between horses, announcing a change of pace, pointing out potential hazards to the person behind you, etc.

One person brought up someone they know who has a young grandchild and a pony. The grandmother had a horse of her own and wanted to take the child with her on trail rides, and would often show up at club riding events with the grandchild and pony in-tow to join in the group ride. It was already known that the group was made up of a lot of gaited horses and people who liked to "move out" on trail, but the lady expected them all to go slow and easy for her and her grandchild.

To me. . .that's kind of an etiquette issue in reverse.

It's one thing to bring a novice rider along on a ride with a couple of friends. . .it happens from time to time in the group I ride with from my barn, and there's never an issue with people not wanting to "baby-sit" an inexperienced rider. We're a laid-back group to begin with, just enjoy each other's company and the time spent with our horses, so it's not a problem to have an inexperienced rider join us.

However, there is another group at our barn that tends to ride a little faster and harder. I ride with them from time to time, and I know what I am getting myself into if I choose to go with them. I also know that my horse does just fine solo, so if I decide to break away from the group once we're out on trail, it won't be a problem.

But if I had a non-horsey friend who wanted to join me for a trail ride, or if I was aboard a young or high-spirited horse, and I knew that the "fast group" was also going out on trail that day, I would not join in and THEN tell them that we had to do a "slow and easy" ride.

In my opinion, at least, that is rude.

Your thoughts?

Thomas_1
Jan. 5, 2010, 01:44 PM
It's not rude at all to ask if you can join in.

What's bizarre is not making clear the requirements for riding in a group in the first place.

What shows a lack of etiquette is posting about someone who wants to join in but isn't going to be allowed or find it enjoyable.

Beverley
Jan. 5, 2010, 01:59 PM
Too many variables to determine who is being rude, to whom.

When we hold our monthly group rides, we're very clear on the etiquette and the ride details- how long the ride will be, type of terrain, suitable for barefoot horse or not, etc. No one passes the trail boss- and the trail boss will be walking the whole way. No one falls behind the drag rider, either. And if we've told you that it is a 5 hour ride in rugged terrain, we won't be wanting to hear your whines three hours into the day that you or your horse is tired. If, on the other hand, you get dumped in a cold mountain stream and are soaking wet, someone in the group is going to offer you a jacket or some spare clothing to keep you from getting hypothermia on the rest of the ride. If you get a cut or a scrape, the keeper of the first aid kit will get you what you need, not chastise you for forgetting to bring your own first aid kit.

But that is an organized club ride. If a few people informally go out in group and someone asks to join them- and they say 'sure' without elaborating that they do tend to move on out- and the invitee gets going with them and finds out it isn't working for him/ her- well, they said sure come along, so common courtesy would dictate that they seek an amicable solution to the problem. Perhaps a couple of them agree to hang back and go slow, for example. If, on the other hand, they've said 'sure, but fair warning, we go fast,' and the invitee says 'okay, I'll come anyway' then yes, it 'could' be rude of the invitee to declare that All Must Go Slow to accommodate him/ her.

To put it another way- in general, stuff can happen to anyone, at any time, such are the unknowns of riding horses. In any given group ride- regardless of how it was 'advertised'- if someone has trouble, surely the rest of the group is going to adjust and help out. Horses lose shoes, go lame, rider starts getting early stages of flu, whatever- surely the whole group is not going to say 'so sad, too bad,' and leave them in the dust- since something can happen to any one in that group at any time.

In summary- yes, it would be rude to sign on for something and then try to arbitrarily dictate changes to that something for one's own selfish needs/ desires. But the golden rule applies too- treat other riders having problems as you would wish to be treated if you have a problem on the trail.

PRS
Jan. 5, 2010, 02:15 PM
While I don't mind the occasional babysitting duty I get little enough time to ride my horse that I want to ride MY horse not YOURS! So in my opinion if you ask if you can ride with my group and I tell you that I like to move out at a fast clip then you can opt out and choose another group to ride with. I am under no "obligation" to slow down so grandma can keep up. However common courtesy would most likely have me riding in the back with grandma and helping her keep an eye on her grandbaby while my friends take off and have a good time. That's just me, I seem to always end up being "the babysitter". Arrghh. Sometimes I wish my momma had not drummed courtesy so deeply into my bones. :sadsmile:

Whenever I've ridden in large groups there is invariably several groups that naturally fall together...fast, medium and slow so I don't worry too much about who is riding where except for myself.

tabula rashah
Jan. 5, 2010, 02:24 PM
It's not rude at all to ask if you can join in.

What's bizarre is not making clear the requirements for riding in a group in the first place.

What shows a lack of etiquette is posting about someone who wants to join in but isn't going to be allowed or find it enjoyable.

I'm guessing our group rides over here are very different from the ones across the pond.
If you show up to a mostly gaited horse ride you need to expect that you are going to do very, very little walking no matter what terrain you are on and that you are going to be moving at a fast pace from the moment your butt hits the saddle (hence why I rarely go on rides).
If you head out on QH ride, you're going to go slower than molasses for most of the day.
There's lots of trail clubs around here that are known for being rowdy- seriously there are clubs called the Yahoos and the SOB's.
And,,,, since I don't like to ride like any of these groups, I do feel that it would be rude for me to show up and then expect all of them to change for me.
Maybe someone could suggest a local 4-H type ride that would be more suitable for the grandmother and kid?

katarine
Jan. 5, 2010, 04:23 PM
All of the above is why big group rides are a huge PITA. It's akin to volunteering to sit in traffic in a stick shift with no A/C and no radio. And one that occasionally backfires and stalls out ;)

Someone should step up and suggest two groups...a big dog group that rides at their desired pace, some big trots and even a canter or rack on....and a sweet puppies group for slower horses, newbies, etc. Trying to mash everyone together to meet the lowest common denominator is a recipe for a headache.

tabula rashah
Jan. 5, 2010, 07:28 PM
All of the above is why big group rides are a huge PITA. It's akin to volunteering to sit in traffic in a stick shift with no A/C and no radio. And one that occasionally backfires and stalls out ;)

Someone should step up and suggest two groups...a big dog group that rides at their desired pace, some big trots and even a canter or rack on....and a sweet puppies group for slower horses, newbies, etc. Trying to mash everyone together to meet the lowest common denominator is a recipe for a headache.

Exactly- Every once in a while I forget about the fact that I despise big group rides and go on one.

mustangtrailrider
Jan. 5, 2010, 09:31 PM
One person brought up someone they know who has a young grandchild and a pony. The grandmother had a horse of her own and wanted to take the child with her on trail rides, and would often show up at club riding events with the grandchild and pony in-tow to join in the group ride. It was already known that the group was made up of a lot of gaited horses and people who liked to "move out" on trail, but the lady expected them all to go slow and easy for her and her grandchild.

To me. . .that's kind of an etiquette issue in reverse.

In my opinion, at least, that is rude.

Your thoughts?


They lady should have asked the group first if they minded if she rode with them first! It was already established that it was a mixed group of gaited horses and faster riders. When she wanted to ride with that group, she assumes the pace of the group unless they invited her along, as a group.

I guess in a nutshell what I am saying is this:

If the group invited her, yes, the group should ride to her level.

If she invited herself to the group, she shoud ride to the leve of the group.

She knew what she was getting into. She asked to go along with the faster group. She should be able to keep up or get left behind. They are under no obligation to babysit her.

Now, if they invited her along, then yes, they should wait for her.

It is all in the asking....who did it....she essentially made herself part of the group....she should keep up.

To expect the fast group to slow down for her her because she wanted to ride with other people is very rude on her part!

I hate that! That is why I ride with few and select people. We know what we like and are capable of....I don't mind babysitting, but I know ahead of time. If I tell you that you better keep up....you better keep up!

AlfalfaGirl
Jan. 5, 2010, 10:28 PM
I agree with MustangTrailRider - if they invited her go at her pace - if she invited herself - go at their pace.

I ride with a group and we sometimes have a few that go faster or slower. I have been the one going slower and sometimes I have gone ahead for a little canter. I certainly don't fly! I had a bad accident last year and am working on my confidence.

On a ride on Halloween we came to a wide open flat place next to a ravine where the dam dumped out when open. A bunch of folks took off running - I wasn't in my own saddle and didn't feel that a run was a good thing at that time. My normally sweet laid back gelding was busting a gut to GO (former race horse) and I got off of him and walked him back!

Later a bunch of them said sorry! And I know they meant it but I went on the ride and enjoyed it except the walking back!

JollyBadger
Jan. 5, 2010, 10:46 PM
It's not rude at all to ask if you can join in.

What's bizarre is not making clear the requirements for riding in a group in the first place.

What shows a lack of etiquette is posting about someone who wants to join in but isn't going to be allowed or find it enjoyable.

Maybe there was a misunderstanding? Of course there's nothing rude about asking to join an established group of riders when out on trail.

Back in September, my boyfriend and I took the horses down to East Fork Stables in Jamestown, TN during the week that the Single-Footing horses and speed-racking horses were there. We were in the minority that weekend - both aboard TWHs. TWHs horses cover a lot of ground, but nothing like the way the Single-footers can move.

(side note: from what I understand, someone at the event had a speed gun and the fastest horse that week was clocked at 35mph in gait - VERY cool to see in person!)

Occasionally, when we were out on trail, we'd run across groups on their SFs and SRs, and they (being typical friendly horse people) invite us to join them for a while. So, we'd move off together at a flat or running walk until the trail opened up into a field.

Following along with trail etiquette, someone in the group alerted us that, when they got out of the trees, they would be "picking up the pace." So, we thanked them for letting us join in with them, said "happy trails" and "see you back in camp," and they moved out.

Fast.

There was no point in us burning our horses out by trying to keep up with them, and it would be rude for us to demand that they should go at whatever pace we set just because we couldn't go any faster.

I do prefer riding with only a few other people at a time, and find that even "big group" rides do tend to break off into smaller segments after a while. If there is a person or horse in who needs baby-sitting, they're probably better off sticking to a small group of just a few others, anyway.

Some of those large rides can be chaotic, especially when you throw drunken hillbillies into the mix.

Ask me how I know.:winkgrin:

ReSomething
Jan. 6, 2010, 02:46 AM
Well, Thomas, welcome to the USA! More different styles of riding than you can imagine under the umbrella of "trail riding".

Basically, my opinion, which is what the OP is after, right?, is that "trail ride" is a term that is far too loosely used and means vastly different things to different folks.
I've been trailriding with the QH set, chatting and checking out the scenery, and I've been trailriding as a kid, where every flat stretch was a racetrack. And close to every variation in between.
If I ask if I can come along then I expect to keep up with the pace that is set. I do expect to be warned about mad gallops or really rough trails on the route and will say thanks but no thanks for those.
If I invite someone I expect to ride to their comfort level but I'm still not going to race them, even if they want me to. And I will be clear about that ahead of time. If someone invites me I expect reciprocal courtesy.

IMHO "rude" doesn't enter into it, just lack of clear expectations and communication.

jazzrider
Jan. 6, 2010, 01:26 PM
If the group invited her, yes, the group should ride to her level.

If she invited herself to the group, she shoud ride to the level of the group.

This, I believe, is standard etiquette.


...The grandmother had a horse of her own and wanted to take the child with her on trail rides, and would often show up at club riding events with the grandchild and pony in-tow to join in the group ride. It was already known that the group was made up of a lot of gaited horses and people who liked to "move out" on trail, but the lady expected them all to go slow and easy for her and her grandchild.

I would agree this is rude. If it was just once or twice, okay, maybe not. A bit presumptuous, but not rude. But often? That's definately inconsiderate, and knowing it's a faster group, it's rude.

On club rides here in our area, it's pretty standard that there's a "fast group," and a "slow group." And if someone needs to walk only, then they usually ask ahead of time if there will be a walk only group. Heck, in our club we sometimes have a gaited walk (flat walk) only group, and a regular walk only group, along with a fast group. We'll also break out into short ride and long ride groups if we're big enough.

If folks are considerate, it usually works out. But yeah, big group rides can be a PITA. A good leader will lay out the guidelines before the ride. WORST ride I ever had was when we went to a ride that we didn't know was going to be a walk-only with about 30 quarter horses. By the end our two gaited boys were ready to explode. We didn't think it was possible for a horse to walk that slow. Lesson learned. Know the ride and riders, or don't go. :)

LookinSouth
Jan. 6, 2010, 04:35 PM
I think if you decide to show up for a group ride you need to be prepared to ride at whatever speed the majority in the group dicates.
This is precisely why I avoid group rides at all costs. Whenever I inquire at a local club about a group ride I ALWAYS ask for clarificiation; is it a "follow the leader" type trail ride or a marked ride where one can go at their own pace in their own small group? Large group "follow the leader type" trail rides with a bunch of riders whom want to go at different paces, have different ideals of footing and various riding abilities drive me batty. I stick to rides with 2-6 other riders whom I know fairly well. If we're planning on heading out to one of the state forests with nice footing for cantering/galloping I make it known to whoever wants to come along.
At the same time I have no problem taking riders/horses that are newer to trail riding out at a slower pace, I just want to know I'll be going at a slower pace ahead of time.

I think it's also commmon courtesy to mention to whoever your riding with what pace you intend to travel at and what your comfortable with ahead of time.

Simbalism
Jan. 7, 2010, 12:32 AM
The riding club I belong to always ends up having several different groups that go out - slow,medium,fast. We have several people that are endurance riders so when they attend a ride we know that they are moving out. We always designate a leader for a slow group, so we can provide a group for newbies or people with green horses. However, it is pretty well understood what groups plan to do what pace. I tend to range between slow and medium speed groups depending on who is riding. I often end up leading the slow group as my mare is very sensible. However, I have gone out with others who ended up going faster than I wanted to due to terrain/footing. Luckily, my mare doesn't care if she gets left, so I just tell them to go on. I would never try to dictate to an established group what pace they should go. In the club I belong to we also have lots of gaited horses. Also, our club is an adult only club.