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So I think I jinxed myself...

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  • So I think I jinxed myself...

    I had responded in Chewbacca's thread about having few problems driving my pony on the road. That was before I met the SUV driver from you-know-where today.

    There was very little traffic in our neighborhood today, even for our quiet little neighborhood, so I decided to take Salt down the paved road to go around the block (which is a couple of miles). It's a rural two-lane road with a 30 mph speed limit, gets very little traffic. Also understand this is a horse community, at least theoretically.

    There is a section of this road that is a very steep hill, and I always take him down the left side when we go downhill as people speed like crazy on that road, and can come over the top of the hill quickly and be right on top of us if we're on the right. The visibility coming up the hill, on the other hand, is about a mile. So I always go where I am only dealing with the uphill traffic, since they can see me for a long way. Usually people pass us slowly, smile and wave.

    We were about halfway down the steep hill when a woman came up the hill and just stopped in front of us. I waved her around to my right; she refused to go around. Understand that it would take her about a second to get around me, less time than it was possible for a car coming down the hill to even come close to hitting her. If I went around her, I would be on the right side of the road for several minutes (Salt is very slow on downhills).

    I tried to explain this to her; she just yelled at me that I was on the wrong side of the road. I told her I was not on the wrong side as I was not driving a car. That didn't seem to sink in. I was as far to the left as I could get (she probably would only go a couple of inches into the other lane to get around me), and she pulled her car right up to us and started blasting the horn. Nice, huh? Luckily Salt is pretty unflappable; he gave her his "Is that all you got?" look and went to sleep. I refused to move--I was getting very, very angry by then.

    In all this time, no cars came by from either direction. Finally, someone came up behind her and got mad that she wouldn't move. Just as they started around her (which they were perfectly happy to do), she decided to go flying around me (finally!) and nearly hit the other car. I must admit I was laughing just a little by then.

    There are two really funny points to this--first, if I'd been going UP the hill, I would have been on the right side of the road, but she still would have needed to go around me. Second, Colorado law says I was exactly where I was supposed to be, and that motor vehicle drivers must never do anything that frightens or endangers a horse.

    I wonder what she would have done if it had been people walking a dog, or with a baby stroller? The road is pretty narrow and there is just nowhere to go for a pedestrian or equestrian.

    So I'm sure I jinxed myself by saying yesterday that I rarely had problems driving Salt on the road.


  • #2
    There is a lady I encounter frequently when I am driving. In fact, she used to board where I do. She lives in a non-horse property on my driving route in one of the neighborhoods a couple miles down the road. I see her frequently in her yard/drive or on any of the roads, which are also 35mph zones mostly. Although some people think it says 55.

    She was quite fearful of her own horses. They were slightly ill mannered, but only because she was such an easily spooked owner. She would go into hysterics if any of her 4 horses even so much as looked the wrong way while she was leading them by hand.

    Needless to say, she is utterly fearful of encountering me on the roads. She will pass at a creep so slow that a jogger could go around her quicker. She will hold up traffic, if smarter people behind her aren't able to pass safely. One time, I think I recall she held up 5 cars behind her.

    Despite her encountering us on the roads for years, and having been told time and again that my horses don't care about the traffic, she is still too afraid to pass at some level of a normal pace. She is afraid she will spook the horses, and I have told her, well really, that's my problem to worry about, not hers.

    I'm personally more afraid of her causing an accident because of her absolute fearfulness of passing us. There really aren't shoulders we can use to get waaaay over to allow her to pass, so we really are in the road, and cars do have to use the opposing lane to pass.

    When she holds up a line of impatient drivers, that's when I get nervous! lol. I'd much rather be passed up by some impatient speeder, than followed along at a creep by someone too afraid to startle the horse! Yikes.

    Sometimes I get people who slow down to gawk, mostly people just go around without a second thought. Occasionally I get someone who isn't sure they can pass, and I will indicate to them to go around if it's clear ahead, and they always do.... everyone except this one lady. She just will not pass unless she is clear enough to do so at less then 5 mph. I'm not kidding. It's actually quite frustrating.

    I hope you don't have much more problems out on your roadway journeys with Salt.
    eBook on Amazon - The Beginner's Guide to Buying a Horse
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    • #3
      If you jinxed yourself, then so did I--posting a thread about how our first road drive had been so great! The next one had a few, well, shall we say, incidents?
      The third one was ill-fated from the start, so it was time to go back to the drawing board and re-think a few things.

      I'm glad Salt gave that silly woman "the look." I'm sure your next drive will be a good one.


      • Original Poster

        Chewbacca, I hear what you're saying, and I can see how much trouble that one woman can cause you by being overly cautious on the kinds of roads you drive, but in my neighborhood, there's no such thing as passing too slowly because we mostly have narrow, curvy, steep dirt roads. It's not like there's any traffic that anyone can hold up, when sometimes we don't see a car for hours.

        The thing that drives me nuts too, though, is when someone just stops dead and won't pass at all. I appreciate their caution, but I wouldn't have Salt out there if I weren't very sure of his reaction to cars. I never let him get above a walk when a car is passing us, and sometimes I lose my prime trotting and cantering places when someone just hangs back there and ignores the fact that I'm waving them around us. If they would just pass I could speed him up again, but I keep him at a walk until the car is past us.

        One other issue with people going around us too fast is that we get sprayed with dust and gravel--that makes me nuts. I don't go by people walking, running or biking at any speed for that reason. No reason to make them eat dust. And getting peppered with gravel is absolutely no fun.

        Just can't win sometimes, you know?



        • Original Poster

          SaudiHunter, wishing you only good drives in the future!



          • #6
            RM Jacobs - sorry you had to deal with a driver like that. MOST of our local drivers think they are at LeMans and we are holding up their race so local roads are no longer safe for anyone BUT those in cars. Since there are ditches rather than shoulders, it just isn't safe any more.

            That said, I think you need to rethink your strategy. In most states a horse and carriage on the road are considered a vehicle and you being on the wrong side of the road would be equal to a car on the wrong side of the road, regardless of the visibility issues. I'd work on getting one of those yellow diamond horse signs put up before the crest of the hill and consider adding a bicycle flag to your carriage to increase visibility. The flag is up high and will help them see you as they come over the hill.

            That said, she was totally NOT helpful and made the situation worse.

            Our "favorite" is the drivers who do slow down when requested and come around you at a reasonable speed, but figure they are past you when they are past the carriage and pick up speed just as their back wheels pass the horse's shoulder, kicking up gravel that can hit the horse as they go by.

            We've been taught you shouldn't crowd yourself over to the very edge of the road, but rather mostly hold your lane making it more likely the car will pass you like any other vehicle.

            It's just not safe for drivers to think they can pass when opposing traffic is coming - and these folks typically do.

            Forgot to add - Saudi - it is totally typical for a horse to do something really well the first time, a bit less well the second and showing his greenness the third. No worries, just keep plugging and he'll get it back again.

            Be safe out there


            • #7
              I live in "whoop-de-do" land... and I understand the fear of being creamed from behind by a flying hill topper... but I believe the rules of the road are that you should be in the right lane. I like the high vis bicycle flag suggestion.

              Also- in defense of the woman who would not drive in the left lane toward a dangerous (apparently) blind crest in the road. if you were concerned enough about it that you wouldn't drive in that lane- why should she?


              • Original Poster

                Let me explain further: First, Colorado law says I am supposed to be on the LEFT side of the road when driving a horse. Second, my horse is old and slow, especially slow on downhills and especially slow on pavement, and it would have taken me several minutes on the right side of the road to get around the car. I would have been fine with anyone coming over the hill at the speed limit, but people come flying over that hill all the time at double the speed limit and more (we have the dead deer to prove it). I would have had to go all the way into the other lane for quite some time. The oncoming car, however, only needed to go a couple of inches into the other lane and with several hundred horsepower versus my one horsepower, would have been past me long before a car could have come over the top of the hill (I was about halfway down the hill--plenty of time for a car to do it safely). It's basically the speed and acceleration difference I'm talking about here, plus the fact that I was hugging the shoulder (trying to be nice) and she was planted in the middle of the lane, being a butt.

                Does that help?



                • #9
                  Rebecca- I hope I didn't sound too critical- as I began- I FULLY understand the concern about being CREAMED from behind... state laws or not... physics does not have to wait for a day in court!

                  That said- I was in disbelief that the law in CO could read like you stated... (not disbelieving you- but that it might be so !) So I looked it up- and it is really NOT clear, and it's confused a little more by the fact that they discuss driving animals (meaning cattle/sheep drives)


                  I think that you would have a valid argument in court if your approach were ever questioned, the way the law seems to be worded, I'd agree with you- but that said- I also think this-

                  ...any animal-drawn conveyance upon a roadway shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this article, except those provisions of this article which by their very nature can have no application...

                  says that you follow the same rules of the road as an automobile except for things like- you don't need brake lights if your carriage has no electrics.


                  • Original Poster

                    Plainandtall, no worries, I welcome a conversation and did not take it as criticism. And if I'm being stupid, I would rather hear about it here than finding out the hard way! I took your comments in the spirit you intended.

                    You are absolutely correct, Colorado law is convoluted. I went right to the vehicle code to find out the law, and there are two sections that contradict each other (I'll choose the one that supports whatever I'm doing at the time, of course!). And I must say, I looked it up AFTER the incident, although I was already pretty sure there was a provision that supported me.

                    When I've bopping around our little horse community, I really don't worry too much about what side of the road I'm supposed to be on. I do what makes sense. On the dirt roads, if the footing is bad on one side, as long as I'm not dealing with a blind hill or some other hazard, I use the other side of the road. Our roads have more people walking on them at times than cars--it really is a quiet little backwater and was founded as a horse-friendly community. Our roads dead end in our neighborhoods and there is only one way in and out, so most of the time we only have residents and their guests as our infrequent vehicle traffic. Walkers go wherever they want (including the middle of the road) when it's muddy, same with runners, people with baby strollers--it's that quiet. And most people are big fans of my pony. Usually the biggest traffic problem is people stopping in the middle of the road to say hi.

                    The only reason I bothered looking up the law was because the woman was just so outraged that I was on the WRONG SIDE OF THE ROAD!!!!!! (her emphasis, for humor, not mine). I was pretty sure I knew what the law was, but afterwards I wanted to know in case I ever had a confrontation like that again (in case I had to call the sheriff). And I had to wonder if she would have taken the same approach to someone walking with a good size stroller--that person would have taken up the same amount of road that Salt and I occupied, and it would have required the same maneuver to get around.

                    I am trying to look at the bright side (because this really did upset me quite a bit to get screamed at like that): in ten years of driving these roads, I've encountered occasional well-meaning ignorance (which I can live with happily) and this is only the second time I've encountered ill will. I'd say I'm doing pretty well if I look at it that way!

                    I also wanted to comment on the flag suggestion--unfortunately our hills are far too steep for that to be helpful. The minute I'm over the top, I'm invisible, as are cars, big trucks, and the poor deer that get slaughtered all the time. You'd think people would slow down just to prevent the huge amount of damage caused by hitting a deer, but they don't seem to think that way.

                    We have one equestrian warning sign on our entrance road, and it hasn't done much good as people blow by it at high speed. Someone actually killed a horse with a car right there (which was heartbreaking, but at least no humans were hurt). I guess it has become invisible over time.