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Mountain bikes on the trail

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  • Mountain bikes on the trail

    Our 15 minutes from home free to the public horse trails is also a mountain biking/hiking park. The mountain bikers have an extensive and hardcore trail system (which horses stay off of ), but that doesn't mean they don't come bombing out of nowhere with their super duty brakes screaming.

    So far the mountain bikers we have met have been very polite. They slow down or get off for us to pass, which I assume is etiquette. I don't think the park is known to most horse people as we get people petting the horses every time we show up.

    Is there any way to make us more visible to mountain bikers so they can see us coming? I'm sure our horses will get used to the sudden and noisy experience of the bikes but it has made for some interesting moments.

  • #2
    My trail riding buddies started tying bike horns and bells to their saddles, and then ringing or honking as they approach blind corners (or a biker with earphones on!). This works pretty well so I have a horn on my saddle now too.

    I honk it when I'm happy too.


    • #3
      We don't have any mountain bikers here, but lots of people on quads in some places which stinks because they can't hear bells. Brightly coloured clothing seems to be the best option for them, and pulling off the trail if you hear them coming. Bells are a good idea for letting the mountain bikers know you are there though!
      Play It By Heart (Player) ~ 1999 bay Arabian gelding
      Chall Struck WA (Little John) ~ 2005 chestnut Arabian gelding


      • #4
        You could always try wearing blaze orange as you would during hunting season... Vest and/or helmet cover.
        MnToBe Twinkle Star: "Twinkie"

        Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


        • #5
          Sounds like you have some good suggestions here. I agree that bright colors and bells will be helpful. It could be that the more you ride there, the better off you'll be; if bikers are expecting to see horses on their ride, they'll tend to use more care.

          As a mountain biker too, I thought I'd pitch in on the etiquette issue. There's an organization that advocates for bicycle trail access and builds legal trails, called IMBA. They publish a list of trail etiquette rules that are reasonably well observed among mountain bikers. Here are two:

          "Yield Appropriately: Do your utmost to let your fellow trail users know you're coming — a friendly greeting or bell ring are good methods. Try to anticipate other trail users as you ride around corners. Bicyclists should yield to other non-motorized trail users... In general, strive to make each pass a safe and courteous one."


          "Never Scare Animals: ... When passing horses, use special care and follow directions from the horseback riders (ask if uncertain)."

          The full list (short) is here, if you're curious:


          • #6
            Red helmet covers. Advice given to me by my teacher when riding on country roads. Cars seem to slow down more when they see the red....I have a red/white one too.


            • #7
              This very subject has been discusses between various mountain bikers I know and myself. However, it's the mountain bikers that were concerned. They are very polite and cautious, but sometimes a blind corner brings surprises and then angry riders. I suggested to one of the mountain bikers that he use a horn when he goes around those corners. He didn't like that suggestion! I don't have any solutions, but can sympathize, since I ride on multi-use trails all the time and deal with dirt bikes, ATVs, hikers, joggers, and mountain bikers. Although most are great, there are some REALLY stupid people out there!


              • Original Poster

                The trails are very clearly marked for mountain bikes, and there were at least a dozen cars with bike racks so it's not like it's a big surprise to us.

                I'm sure if someone blasted past us we'd be angry, but the people we met were all very nice.


                • #9
                  I ride with mt bikers. My horses love my husbands friends to ride with. My endurance horse can smell and hear them coming, also he can track them on the trail. He can pretty much tell how long ago they had traveled on the trail, where they went, where they stopped. He can also tell even more if my husband had been there. I have had him since he was a weanling and he is 14 this year, so we know each other really well. My rocky mare is 5 this year and she is starting to do the same thing.

                  BTW my endurance horse can out do mt bikers hands down. Not always in speed but he can navigate a trail and hill and kick booty! ha ha. And his heart rate will come down way faster than theirs. Also he can chase any cows off the trails too, and they can't.

                  If I rode on a trail with lots of mt bikers I would wear a hi-viz colored shirt or vest. Hi-viz is the best for all to see.

                  I have found mt bikers and horses and hikers get along well. Anywhere you add in a gas engine anything to the mix above things are not harmonious.

                  If I want to be seen, I wear a very bright color.

                  I usually call it: "Do not shoot me yellow", Or "Do not shoot me red", or Do not shoot me pink" "Do not shoot me limegreen". Most my fellow riders know this. But it has helped alot.

                  Be seen. Just remember there can be ugly nasty riders but always keep their safety in mind. If they get a kick it will be devastating. It will not show them who's boss. Also you do not want the horse to get caught somehow inside the bike.


                  • #10
                    I've never come across a mountain biker that was anything but wonderful. Here, they over-do the yielding thing, even when I say they are fine to blast on past. I think the best possible safety measure is to ride bikes around your horses as much as possible, so that it becomes a non-issue for them. Living w/ 12-year-old boys is the best possible horse training.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by rmh_rider View Post
                      If they get a kick it will be devastating. It will not show them who's boss. Also you do not want the horse to get caught somehow inside the bike.
                      Oh yes, a kick will definitely show anyone who's boss.

                      I'm not saying that one should set the horse up to kick someone else. But if it does happen in spite of the rider's efforts to the contrary, it will be a strong reminder to anyone that horses are not to be trifled with.

                      You know the saying: play stupid games, win stupid prizes.


                      • #12
                        I would suggest a blaze orange vest. You can pick one up for under $5 at Wally world.

                        We have worn them in the past and you truly can see them from quit a distance


                        • #13
                          Blaze orange vest is best, they are light weight and any WalMart will have them now because of hunting season. We always wear them in the State Forests especially...Snuck up on more Boy Scouts (and leaders) that have no idea how to act around horses!! Oh I could tell a few stories that would make a good spin-off thread actually!

                          Antique shops sell pleasant sounding brass bells you can clip on a saddle with a rappelling clip. Some of the newer bells are sharper and annoying (to horse & rider) but the older heavier (maybe duller through age) brass bells have a nice 'ring' to them.


                          • #14
                            Too many of the riders are wearing the headphones listening to their ipods. They are not going to hear bells or horns. Heck half the time, they don't even hear me ask them if they are having a good time or have a nice day or Thanks for stopping..

                            My horses have gotten pretty good at bikes coming head on at them. Its the bikes overtaking us from the rear that is usually the surprise. My horses have learned to hear the bikes coming, I notice my horses looking in the direction of the bike a few seconds before I see or hear them. So they are are my radar of whats ahead.

                            I try to let them go by if I can see they are working hard at a climb and don't want to loose their momentum. We frequently pass the bikers going uphill and they pass us going downhill.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Painted Horse View Post
                              Too many of the riders are wearing the headphones listening to their ipods. They are not going to hear bells or horns. Heck half the time, they don't even hear me ask them if they are having a good time or have a nice day or Thanks for stopping..
                              Yep, the few rude mountain bikers I have encountered have all been wearing headphones. I love mountain bikers as long as they're aware of other people on the trail, which includes being able to hear!

                              I've found high-viz gear is the best strategy. Usually they'll see you even through trees in enough time to slow down.
                              exploring the relationship between horse and human


                              • #16
                                All the ones I've across in the public parks have been attentive and respectful.

                                Maybe it helps that the main park I ride in has taken the time to educate users about multi-use trails & right of way of pedestrians vs bikes vs horses. People who don't ride often don't know anything about horses, and educating them is something your park could do in their hand-outs and signs. Sometimes it's as simple as teaching them to say "Hi" when crossing horses on the trail, so the riders & horses aren't surprised. Have you talked to park mgmt about your concerns?

                                Orange vests are a great idea. If nothing else, it can't hurt with hunting season coming up. You can't count on a hunter not to go a little further than he's supposed to and wander into public lands (where hunting isn't allowed or is permit only). Not all property borders are clearly marked.... so anything you can do to protect yourself is a good thing!
                                Veterinarians for Equine Welfare


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by philosoraptor View Post
                                  You can't count on a hunter not to go a little further than he's supposed to and wander into public lands (where hunting isn't allowed or is permit only).
                                  Access to hunting in public lands has very very few restrictions in the states that I have lived in (FL, NY, WA, KS, and OH).

                                  So finding hunters in public lands in those states (and many others) is neither unexpected nor illegal.

                                  It occurred to me that your definition of public land may be small city and county parks. My definition of public lands is more towards state and national forests and wildlife areas where hunting is legal and commonplace.
                                  Last edited by mildot; Sep. 5, 2011, 10:09 AM.


                                  • #18
                                    I noticed street bikers have small mirrors that attach to their helmets to let them see the cars coming up behind them. I was thinking of trying this as I have lots of trouble with bikes behind me. On some of the trails I can't hear them at all and have turned to find them tail gaiting my horse, Really just a foot or two off their rear legs. So its the bikes zooming up from behind that are so dangerous for them and for me. My mare takes offense and wants to catch them when they fly by, boy are they surprised to hear her chasing them
                                    i agree its the ear pods making this more dangerous.
                                    what do you thunk about a mirror on your helmet?


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by walkers View Post
                                      On some of the trails I can't hear them at all and have turned to find them tail gaiting my horse, Really just a foot or two off their rear legs.
                                      Like I said before, bikers: play stupid games, win stupid prizes

                                      Originally posted by walkers View Post
                                      My mare takes offense and wants to catch them when they fly by, boy are they surprised to hear her chasing them


                                      • #20
                                        I've never had an issue with mountain bikers - there is a section of horse trail at one of the local parks that shares trail with the mountain bike path, and the trails also "criss-cross" each other at another point. Both equestrians and bikers co-exist peacefully and there is mutual respect.

                                        Sadly, I can't say the same for the road cyclists who use the paved "multi-user" paths that double as horse trail for short segments. Those trails tend to attract more of the once-in-a-while weekend cyclists and people who decide to take the kids to the park for the day to wear them out, and have no clue or cares about sharing the trail with others.
                                        Please copy and paste this to your signature if you know someone, or have been affected by someone who needs a smack upside the head. Lets raise awareness.