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Good Sense, Self Defense and Safety on the Trails

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  • Good Sense, Self Defense and Safety on the Trails

    I didn't want to high jack the Trail Tips for Dummies thread. Everyone has such good advice, I thought I'd ask your opinions.

    First let me say, I took a Mounted Self Defense Course for riders a few years back, and the subject of "visiting with pedestrians" was very informative and got me thinking. I wish all trail riders could attend this kind of clinic.

    Do you ever stop and talk with "strangers" on the trails, especially if you are a woman riding alone or with kids, and the "stranger" is a lone male or more than one male?

    Do you know how to defend yourself if a stranger grabs your horse's bridle while you are mounted? Do you know how to prevent this from happening in the first place??

    This next one is just as much about liability as it is safety.

    When a bunch of little kids come running up to you as you ride by, and they are screeming and jumping for joy over seeing a horsey, do you stop and let them pet your pretty horsey, or do you just wave and keep on going?

    I got criticized for NOT stopping to visit. But, I'm sorry, if one of those kids gets stepped on because my horse spooked, and that kid's mom tries to sue me, it's just not worth it. Plus I feel it's not safe to let a bunch of little kids, over whom I have no control, run up to my horse and start petting it on the side of the road. Sorry, but my vote is to just wave politely, say "thank you" for the compliments to your pretty horsey, and keep on going.

    What do you all think and do you have any more Self Defense tips? (other than packing heat)
    Never Ride Faster Than Your Angel Can Fly

  • #2
    On previous trustworthy horses I always stopped
    and let kids "worship"my horses as it was my
    biggest thrill when I was a kid. Times were
    more innocent back then too.
    This year at the equine affiare I went to the
    mounted police clinics and there was one about
    self defense for trail riders who meet up with
    "suspicious" characters. It was most informative. He sold his video with the same
    title. I've shared it with friends who also
    picked up some great tips, things you wouldnt
    think of or do instinctively for when you meet
    up with the "dark side". Knowledge is power.


    • #3
      I rarely ride alone, and if I do-I take my dog. She's not nice to strangers at all! Very protective of me, and loves to go 'trail riding'. If I do go with a friend, I tell them beforehand, if someone is meaning us harm-don't second guess me, I'm taking off. If I get caught or you get caught-the other one should keep going to get help, no reason for the both of us to get hurt. We also carry mase, and I usually carry a riding crop and a cell phone. It's horrible we have to think about these things.


      • #4
        We also carry mase, and I usually carry a riding crop and a cell phone. It's horrible we have to think about these

        while riding or off your horse with your horse
        close by. WHY? the over spray can affect your
        horse wich can result in loss of control of horse making a bad situation even worse.


        • #5
          Good questions, Kellye!

          Let's see...if a stranger grabbed my horse's bridle, I would try to spin the horse towards the stranger and have the horse knock him down/step on him...if that failed, I would try to pop the bridle off and leave the stranger holding that instead of us...my horses carry their heads high enough for me to be able to reach their noses and stop in a bridle-less emergency...(I practice this with my Arabian sometimes in the pasture, actually).

          What's the "real" answer?

          I rarely stop on the trail, and if I do, I keep my distance from pedestrians, as I don't want them to get stepped on if either they or my horse does something silly. Occasionally, depending on my mood and the horse's mood, I will stop and let a child pet the horse, but I always dismount and instruct the child on where and how to pet.


          • #6
            OK I have to admit my first reaction to this question AND to all the riding self-defense articles and courses proliferating right now is - has there been a need for this? Have people been attacked on the trail on any kind of numbers? or is it a new industry popping up to sell us another "product"? My circle may just not be wide enough, but I've never heard of any tales of being attacked either personally or third hand.

            My old guy loved kids and nothing pleased him more than stopping to visit. So yes we visited, but the first part of the conversation was explaining where to stand so he could see them and preferred petting spots. I agree with gothedistance, we've had some nice conversations with hunters finding out areas to avoid and where it was safe to ride that day and making friends of other land users.

            The new guys are in process of learning to stand quietly for visits and especially for kids. We plan to do horse exhibitions at a local historical farm and parents are notorious for letting someone else deal with their kids when away from home. So the guys need more despooking work before they are ready for this kind of interaction. Don't know how many of the little dears want to stand right in front of a cart wheel patting the horse on the gaskin!


            • #7
              OK I have to admit my first reaction to this question AND to all the riding self-defense articles and courses proliferating right now is - has there been a need for this? Have people been attacked on the trail on any kind of numbers? or is it a new industry popping up to sell us another "product"? My circle may just not be wide enough, but I've never heard of any tales of being attacked either personally or third hand.
              Well, there are rumors making the rounds of horsewomen in my area about a deerhunter, armed, who flashes riders and attempts to grab the horse's reins. He's been spotted a couple of farms away from mine, so Avery and I are sticking to the main roads & the home farm at the moment.

              Sadly, in this day and age, I don't think self-defense and safety classes are at all out of order, and if there were one in my area, I'd probably take it.
              "The standard you walk by is the standard you accept."--Lt. Gen. David Morrison, Austalian Army Chief


              • #8
                I appreciate this.

                As for kids approaching the horse, for me it would depend on which horse I am on. If it's an older, bomb-proof guy, I *might* allow kids to approach. It would depend on the circumstances.

                As for my own safety as a woman who rides alone at times. You absolutely have to be super careful and aware of your surroundings and others on the trails. I stay tuned into my own senses (all of them) and I really try to tie into the horse's senses as well. No lone adult is going to come anywhere close to me, or within the orbit to where he/she can get hold of my reins.

                As for the person who asked if these precautions are necessary - absolutely they are. Several years ago a woman camper hiking in Skyline was murdered. A lone female on a horse could make a pretty good target. Better safe than sorry.

                And, odd as this sounds, I have had numerous "exposing" episodes. So have a couple of my buddies. I think maybe there is something about a lady on a big horse that brings out the "I have a big weenie, too" personalities!


                • #9
                  I very rarely will stop to chat. Upon approaching hiker, bycyclist, walkers, kids ect
                  I will offer a hello, nice day ect... and keep
                  moving. never allow a stranger to approach
                  you and your horse. Most people mean well others will grab reins, bridle to try to get control. a tell tail sign is person inching
                  forward toward horse this is when you back up
                  do not move forward as person will have
                  more to grab on to as in you, the saddle
                  breastcollar, BACK UP turn away and ride off


                  • #10
                    I have found in life, that strange people linger in the woods. I am saying that besides person’s that have a purpose, I.E. Hunters, bikers, hikers, and on and on.

                    Seems some pretty strange people like to hang out in the woods, most are harmless, just sorta out there. But then, there are others that just seem out of place. I totally avoid these characters, to me they stand out.

                    I have relied on my instinct many times in life when dealing with people. So far, I am still surviving. I really think when speaking to anyone anywhere, you need to do a thorough look-over for demeanor, and body language. Many times this will help you realize some people don’t wish to converse, and others do. It can also alert you to the possibility of a weapon, or intention.

                    As I said, I have seen and experience some strange things in life, but have never had a bad experience on a horse. I keep my distance always, even with other horse riders (safety for your horse…getting kicked, bit). I would never as a practice ever allow anyone to get close enough to grip a halter, bridle or such. Even so, I would demand my horse run their A$$ over. A horse will respond to your fear believe me. Many would rear (most will raise their head high enough the average person could not hold at a slight pressure) and ram at a riders insistence.

                    But even so, if a person has a weapon, you are only as fast as your horse. Be it so, don’t run at a straight path, and stay low. Your horse will get you out of there; seriously they can feel all your emotions. That, and horses natural instinct to flight…that’s a done deal.

                    I completely agree about the fear of small kids. I usually never stop unless a parent is present and holds their child or stand next to them. Kids are so unpredictable, never know if they will lunge forward and startle your horse. As a rule I usually wave, and do some fancy moves to make them amazed at the horse. I love to bring new young people into the appreciation of the horse.
                    **Founding member of the TQ (Trail Queen) \"Learn How to Ride or MOVE OVER!\" Clique** 2005 Winner of the \"Rush Limbaugh of the Trails\" Award

                    Rope The Moon Ranch RTM Breeders of Anglo-Arabs, and Performers of


                    • #11
                      My mare is pretty light in front and asking for a rear is not hard.
                      Might come in handy in this case
                      A pussycat of a horse with a chewed off tail won the triple crown, The Cubs won the world series and Trump won the Presidency.
                      Don't tell me 'It can't be done.'


                      • #12
                        GREAT thread!

                        I'm ashamed to say I never even thought of these things, other than not letting children approach unless I'm unmounted and can stand between them and the horse.

                        I attended a rape prevention clinic while in college (there had been several rapes on campus and in the nearby town) and learned a whole lot. But I admit I feel bullet proof while mounted. It never even occurred to me that somebody might grab the bridle or wave a gun. Duh!! I don't hike alone because I feel vulnerable.

                        Where can we get more info on self-defense for trail riders? Is there a web site?

                        Also, I don't allow people to approach my horses on the trail. Usually my horse's attention is somewhere on the horizon or surrounding trees, looking for lions, so I can't guarantee they won't spook at a critical moment. My mare spooks in place, but there is always the possibility. If asked, I tell pedestrians that my horse is a former race horse and unpredictable. She's big enough that people usually don't ask to approach anyway. I can always ask for a side step to make my excuse more convincing. She is a TB but washed out in trainig. A grain of truth....

                        The only thing I've ever heard of attacking a mounted rider is a mountain lion. I'm glad I'm on the East Coast where we only have to watch out for two-legged predators!


                        p.s. If somebody waved a weapon at me, I'd run like the dickens, crouching low over the neck. It's harder to hit a moving target. He could always go for the horse, I suppose, but with luck (and a rear presentation) he wouldn't hit anything critical and we could still escape. I would think that somebody attacking in the woods would likely have murder in mind anyway, so I'd take my chances mounted and running hard.
                        "Passion without knowledge is a runaway horse."


                        • #13
                          Scot Hansen has clinics on self-defense while trail riding, as well as groundwork and riding clinics. While I haven't taken the self defense one, several folks I know have and they praise it highly. He also has a video. His website is http://www.horsethink.com.
                          Shall I tell you what I find beautiful about you? You are at your very best when things are worst.


                          • #14
                            Thanks for the link! I'm going to order the video as soon as I can find my credit card.

                            "Passion without knowledge is a runaway horse."


                            • #15
                              Great thread! JoZ thanks for the link to Scot Hanson. The riding club I belong to tries to put on one clinic per year and it's always tricky to come up with something new that will be popular.


                              • #16
                                I cant tell you how happy I was to see this thread as this is a constant concern of mine. I ride alone every weekend and alot of it is in very secluded areas. I often wonder what I would do in certain situations as I dont carry a weapon only a cell phone. I never stop when i see strangers only wave and say hello. Also I was wondering what measures you guys take against dogs running loose as this is a constant issue with my trail riding.


                                • #17
                                  I don't know how safe it is, but I trained my old trail mare to turn and chase dogs that came running up and barking. She really got into it, and we almost caught one once.

                                  I used to do a lot of riding along the road when I was young and didn't have a trailer. I've had horses jump straight up from dogs ambushing us, shy in front of cars, and one particular mare slid on the pavement and scraped her chestnuts off. That's when I got the idea to train them to chase dogs instead. A gamey horse finds this fun. Of course, we had to look for traffic, too. Eventually, the dogs stopped trying to chase us. Or, if they started, I'd growl at them and they'd slink away.

                                  I'm not sure how to handle a pack of dogs. That would be a good thing to know.
                                  "Passion without knowledge is a runaway horse."


                                  • #18
                                    You know I did do that once. I was so angry at these dogs because in this one spot they would come at me and bark and bark so I did what you said... I went after them. I wasnt sure if it was a good idea at the time but it did freak the dogs out.


                                    • #19
                                      Well I hate to say this but I have ridden alone in the Mts. of Colorado and hills of San Diego and had some hairy moments running into men looking for trouble. I got angry about feeling unsafe and not comfortable riding and doing what I want to do just because I'm female. So at that time I would ride
                                      armed. Now that was many years ago and I haven't even owned a gun for a long time . However I am very pissed off by the number of women killed or raped by men just because we can't physically defend ourselves. I refuse to be a victim.
                                      FYI I have worked in the criminal justice system and if you ever sat down and talked with a murderer or serial rapist for an hour you'd be very careful about putting yourself in a vulnerable situation.Forget about thinking you can tell a bad guy by your instincts. Some of the most vicious women killers were smart ,educated, good looking "nice" guys.
                                      And I do love men and hate guns!
                                      Old bumper sticker from the 70's " NObody Rapes a 38"


                                      • #20
                                        I can't stress enough to NEVER EVER EVER use
                                        maise or pepper spray while on your horse or
                                        any where near it. It does not take much
                                        wind to blow the over spray around if this
                                        lands in your horses eyes you will go for a
                                        heck of a ride. (picture what it does to a human
                                        no imagine how a HORSE would react)
                                        When encountering people ie bikers, hikers,
                                        family's use the same trail etiquete you
                                        would if you were encountering other riders.
                                        USE your gut instinct it will tell you alot.
                                        If you feel someone is threatning or threatens
                                        you while on your horse it is best to back up
                                        turn away and ride off. It is always good
                                        to keep a 10 ft rule just don't let anyone
                                        with in a 10 ft circle of your horse again
                                        if a person you feel threatned by starts
                                        inching forward and invading that space for
                                        every step forward they take you make your
                                        horse back up. This imaginary ten foot
                                        circle gives you and your horse the room you
                                        will need to counter act the moves the person
                                        makes. If someone approaches from the rear
                                        STOP turn your horse LET THEM PASS YOU You
                                        want them in front of you as if you ride forward
                                        they can track you YES a horse can move awhole
                                        lot faster than a person on foot but horses
                                        also can leave prominant print trails and can
                                        be tracked. IT IS ALWAYS BEST TO RIDE IN GROUPS
                                        IF you do ride alone take YOUR PHONE