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My (long) vent - Trail riders vs. Larpers

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  • My (long) vent - Trail riders vs. Larpers

    There have often been threads on how we as horse riders are having to share more and more trails with various other activites due to land use shrinkage. I don't think anyone here would disagree that while we need to educate others on how to act around horses (for our and their safety), there is also a need for at least a reasonable amount of common courtesy. Please correct me if I'm wrong (although I'm sure I didn't have to SAY that ). I guess some folks, though, never got the message and it makes me somewhere between angry and sad.

    I LARP. Which is to say, as geeky as it sounds, I get together with a bunch of friends and "play" about once/month at the local state park -- complete with combat featuring foam swords, foam club and padded arrows, along with "spell packets" (aka cloth around a bunch of birdseed). Yes, if you must, it's similar to the movie Role Models (although not to be snobby, our game is a lot more story driven than combat driven... although combat does happen). More of a theater meets sporting event kind of thing. Anyway, our base is at the group camp area that we rent through the park but we venture out onto the hiking trails as well as blazing through the woods as needed. In addition, there are a set of trails that are riding trails that we use. We're there in all kinds of weather so it's actually rare to encounter riding groups. This weekend was gorgeous weather wise!! probably the last beautiful weekend we'll have. We were doing a series of combats along the riding trails and encountered 4 groups -- from 2 to 5 riders each. I should note that these trails are designated as riding OR hiking trails based on the plaques at the trailhead featuring horses and people.

    Per our protocol, when horses are approaching, we stop our game, move to a single side of the trail, drop weapons and shields and anything else menacing (we have one guy who is already 7'2" tall and wears a helmet with horns on it like a viking... if he's in teh group he knows to remove his helmet). One person is designated as the spokesman and talks to the riders.

    3 of the 4 groups we encountered this weekend were great. Couple spooky horses which the riders admitted were a bit green. Few of the horses really wanted to walk past us but they did.... albeit several walked through the weeds on the far side of the trail. The last group was awesome, stood and talked to us about what we were doing, etc. But there was a group of 3 that were downright hard to deal with. Even with the "owner" of the LARP there, I took the lead in talking to folks as I was the only one in the group of about 18 that had horse experience. I tried talking to them. They got nasty... telling us we were spooking the horses and we shouldn't be on the trails... that they didn't ride on hiking trails. I asked, as calmly as I could, if there was something we could do right then to help the situation. All I got was "get off the riding trails" (as in don't use them at all because everyone was a good 6-10 feet from the trail). I repeated the question a couple times, emphasizing what we could do RIGHT THEN and got the same answer. I didn't trust myself to explain that these were also hiking trails and we were legally able to be there (unlike them riding on exclusively hiking trails which is what they were referring to in their argument). Thom (former owner of the larp) did speak up once to say that it was a public park, but they wouldn't let it go. We waited til they disappear aroudn the corner before moving but in that wait heard them encounter someone walking on the hardball about 50 feet away saying that we were a nuissance, etc.

    As a rider and former owner of a nervous and very sensitive OTTB -- one that wouldn't flinch at jumping a 3' solid table but would spook at a 6" diameter log off to the side of the trail, I understand what they are going through when their horse shy. I get it. As someone who larps where we encounter horses, I think we do a DAMN good job of supporting the riders in those concerns and making it safe for everyone to use the trails (it's not like we're shooting boffer arrows at their butts! ) But as the person who tried to help the situation and took point, I was EXTREMELY disappointed in my fellow riders and the image they portrayed to my non-riding LARP friends. I'm just glad the other groups presented a vastly more positive experience.

    Thanks for letting me vent.
    "Of course it's hard. It's supposed to be hard. It's the Hard that makes it great."

    "Get up... Get out... Get Drunk. Repeat as needed." -- Spike

  • #2
    I don't LARP, but I have friends who do and I have to say they're one of the kindest and most supportive communities out there. Geeky yes, weird-to-me yes, but generally very kind and very "to each their own."

    It sounds like you're doing all you can to make the trail a welcoming place for everyone. Sadly, some people just suck--and it sounds like group 4 out of 4 just sucks. Kudos to you and your group for how you handled it.

    Seriously dudes, if horses can learn how to CHARGE INTO BATTLE they can learn to cope with a group of people standing still in funny-looking clothes by the side of the road.
    Head Geek at The Saddle Geek Blog http://www.thesaddlegeek.com/


    • #3
      Former LARPer here, too (VTM...maybe we would have to stand on the side of the trail with our arms crossed and say "I'm Obsfuscating, you can't see me anyway") and yeah, that group sucked.

      If your horses are spooking, ride on past the spook, don't hang around arguing.

      What would they think of the SCA or military reenactors where the reenactors actually *gasp* USE HORSES IN THEIR REENACTMENTS? SCA has mounted jousting events. I've bivouaced at a Civil War battle near the artillery horses and there are mounted cavalry units. Those horses have the crazy people in costumes with swords ON THEIR BACKS.
      Author Page
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      Steampunk Sweethearts


      • #4
        meh, there are hardheads everywhere. Some folks can't be pleased, so while I know it put a damper on the day, just try to remember that they were annoyed and uncomfortable and acted out as a result. It wasn't personal on their part, so try your best not to take it so hard. I think you did a great job staying on point with what can we do RIGHT NOW to make it better? They couldn't hear you, but I bet they did upon reflection later. You did a great job


        • #5
          Kind of ran into the opposite a few weeks ago. We were riding our horses on a horse designated trail. On the way up the mountain, we were nice to everyone and their great dogs were nice right back to us. Got to the top and got slammed by an old grump that we shouldn’t be there and that the trails were for people and not horses. We were pretty kind and told him he was misinformed, to check the signs when he got down, and that the park people knew we were there. The guy would.not.let it go. I wish I had been at the bottom when he read that they were open to horses. There are crazies everywhere.


          • #6
            Eh, chalk it up to "people" being people and let it go. They're probably just used to going round-n-round in a ring and were shocked that there might actually be PEOPLE doing THINGS out there!!!

            I ride on very, very busy and populated trails. Most folks are great, friendly and ogle the horses. There always has to be one poop in the crowd tho. I just smile disgustingly sweetly at them and say Well Bless Your Heart!
            <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.


            • #7
              When a person takes their horse out in public they are responsible for their horse's behavior. The Rest of the World does not have to stop what it's doing so a poorly broke, poorly trained, and/or poorly ridden horse doesn't have a bad day.

              That said, ceasing a vigorous activity that might cause prolems is being polite and a good neighbor. But it's a nice thing by the actors, not a right of the equestrians.

              Were it I I'd send Falcon 113 to my friends, then Falcons 114 & 119* to riders of unruly horses.


              *Google Falcon Codes and you'll translate the above.
              Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão


              • #8
                Best thing to do is not carry on with individuals like that.
                It sounds like you are being very courteous and that is the best thing to do. Riders need to stop blaming others and spend the time and energy on training their horses to be better trail mounts. You never know when you are going to encounter a bear, moose, model airplanes, backpackers with giant packs and fishing rods, etc...
                And no, I had never heard of "larpers" but that reminds me of a time I was out riding and heard dirt bikes coming. I was on a flighty arabX and dismounted for safety and pulled off to the side of the trail. When the bikers came flying around the corner and saw me, they slammed on the brakes and almost ended up going over the handlebars!! They were very apologetic as I am sure they are used to being showered with profanity, but I was very nice and civil to them. Live and let live!
                "When life gives you scurvy, make lemonade."


                • #9
                  Sadly I knew what LARP meant right away.


                  • #10
                    well, you weren't riding or hiking so whether your group really does have a "right" to be there is debate-able. Who cares? I find it weird you feel the need to talk to the riders. When I'm out riding or hiking and see people acting/dressed oddly (happens all the time) I certainly don't want to hang around and talk to them. Also have noticed that horses tend to get spooked more by people who freeze and stand motionless at the side of the trail when they see horses than by people who act casually and continue about their business. The worst are hikers who sort of hide behind trees trying not to spook horses. Our horses are used to kids having snowball fights and playing in their fieldsand wearing halloween costumes and wouldn't bat an eye at a group playing at combat. But a group lined up motionless at the side of the trail would elicit some nervous eye-rolling.


                    • #11
                      Maybe mounted LARPING is the answer.

                      Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão


                      • #12
                        I commend you for your patience and courtesy. You went WELL beyond the call.

                        I have little patience for grounded-idiots when I am riding on the trail. I also have little patience for mounted-idiots when I am on the ground. Truth be told, I have no patience for idiots at all. Sounds like you ran into a bunch of idiots.

                        I was riding on the trail this weekend with some friends. We came across a lady riding and her dog was with her. The dog was walking along side the horse with the leash dragging along. She asked if she could pass us by and ran down the trail with her dog. My friends and I were talking about it and eventually caught up to her.

                        She asked us why so many riders around here are so uptight. She said others she met on trail used to yell at her that her dog must be leashed. So she put a leash on. Now they yell at her that she is supposed to be holding the leash! The dog was well behaved and she couldn't see the problem.

                        There are too many people out there that have no business being on trail. They are uptight and scared and want to blame YOU for their insecurities.

                        That does NOT eliminate the need for some common courtesy, which is sadly lacking in most areas of our society. But that also works both ways. You don't LARP in the middle of a trail when riders are passing - but you also don't get rude at the LARPers when they stop and move to let you pass. It isn't your fault that some riders have issues being on trail. If it were me, I would encourage you to continue what you were doing. Not only would I find it interesting, it would give me the opportunity to expose my horse to something new.

                        Ignore these people. Nothing you say or do will ever appease them. Talking will only make things worse. Heck, just tell them to hurry up and move along before the 9ft troll gets back.


                        • #13
                          Well I will freely admit I opened this thread because I had no idea what Larping was.

                          My horse can be amazingly brave about some things and a total nit about others. Since I don't know what those things are until we encounter them, its tough to train for it.

                          That said, it would not be upset to meet Larpers on the trail, any more than I was when I met the guy riding the Mt. bike wearing a elf type suit. I have no idea why he was wearing an elf type suit, but my horse clearly thought he was one crazy person, and made a wide circle around him. We all know horses think of self-preservation is much more important then being open minded and friendly.

                          People on the other hand SHOULD know enough to be open minded and friendly. I agree with Joe that they were probably scared and uptight, and took it out on you. Unfortunately, jerks are everywhere, not just on horseback.

                          Hopefully your fellow LARPers will know that they are not a good representation of Equestrians everywhere.
                          Facta non verba


                          • Original Poster

                            Originally posted by wendy View Post
                            well, you weren't riding or hiking so whether your group really does have a "right" to be there is debate-able.
                            Nope, not debate-able at all. Yes that is what the trail signs say -- there are otehrs that have skiers markings for the ski trails, bike markings for bike trails as well as anti-signs for things that shouldn't be on specific trails. However, as a group, we rent the group camp areas. This is our 5th season of playing at this park. Park administrations LOVES us and knows full well what we do and where we do it.

                            I find it weird you feel the need to talk to the riders.
                            Weird? Why is it weird to talk to people who pass you by? A simple good morning... nice day for a ride, etc. Personally, I would want someone to say those things... if nothing else than to perhaps help spooky horse realize that that 7'2" person dressed in furs with makeup on really IS a person. Beyond that, saying hello is common courtesy. When the horses start given us the wide eye, I would simply say hello or good morning. If they continued having trouble, I would (as I did in the instance of the people who didn't want us there at all) offer any assistance possible to help them. It's a safety thing, both for us and for them. It's not that I care if they stop their ride and have a nice chat. I did enjoy talking to the riders that did stop and ask us about what we were doing. And if that's the kind of talking you are referring to, again... it's not that big of a deal nor a "need". I LIKE talking to other riders. Certainly not a crime.... or even "weird".

                            Also have noticed that horses tend to get spooked more by people who freeze and stand motionless at the side of the trail when they see horses than by people who act casually and continue about their business.
                            I understand that, but our "business" is running around hitting each other with foam weapon and shooting foam padded arrows, all while yelling math at each other. Do you really want to try and ride past that?? Our policy is that combat stops... whether we're letting a horse pass or a hiker. We are polite and courteous. In the case of horses, 1 person does the talking for the group so we don't get things confused if the rider asks for something specific. Once the horses and/or hikers are out of the area... we reform to where we were and continue the game. Anyone caught being rude in ANY way to anyone of the public can and will be banned from future games. The owner of the game is in sales so he is VERY mindful of how our group is portrayed to the general public.

                            Enjoytheride -- if you're in Indiana... you should make it over for a game or 2.


                            Guilherme -- believe me I've tried to get them to incorporate horses in the game! Even when hubby was one of the owners, the closest we got was having my old barn owner show up for a thread with one of her minis and a cart to be a merchant. There are simply too many variables with mounted folks in this game that can spin horribly out of control far too quickly. Every single game (we've now had 50!!) has started with the pre-game briefing-- of which after the welcome the first thing out of the owner's mouth is "Safety is more important than gameplay!"

                            Thanks for everyone's comments (not that I'm discouraging more... by all means, post away!). The OP was a vent. We encountered 3 other groups that were wonderful and were the talk of our group for quite a while afterwards, so I think that went a long way to dispursing any negativity encountered by the 1 group of dissenters. In the 3 years I've been associated with this group, I think I've only heard of horse encounters maybe 3 other times total... so it doesn't happen very often. It's just nice when it does that people of different interests really can get along.
                            "Of course it's hard. It's supposed to be hard. It's the Hard that makes it great."

                            "Get up... Get out... Get Drunk. Repeat as needed." -- Spike


                            • Original Poster

                              Originally posted by gothedistance
                              Well, you learn something new everyday on COTH! Here I thought everything involving imaginary adult play was done on a keyboard and monitor.
                              Well, a lot of the group does that too, but it's so much more fun to have actual physical beings that you can see to hit... like these:

                              "Of course it's hard. It's supposed to be hard. It's the Hard that makes it great."

                              "Get up... Get out... Get Drunk. Repeat as needed." -- Spike


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by enjoytheride View Post
                                Sadly I knew what LARP meant right away.
                                Sadly, I don't. Can you clue me in?


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Guilherme View Post
                                  When a person takes their horse out in public they are responsible for their horse's behavior. The Rest of the World does not have to stop what it's doing so a poorly broke, poorly trained, and/or poorly ridden horse doesn't have a bad day.
                                  I agree with this statement. The rude person you ran into would be the same person who would ban dogs and children from running near an arena because she couldn't handle her horse when it spooked. I think that the more things my horse is exposed to the more confident and brave he will be. When someone wants to take dog on a trail ride I welcome it because my horse can and should be a able to handle a dog popping out of the trees. We have run into some Larpers (didn't know what to call them until now) in one of the State Parks we were riding in. My horse just looked at them funny (frankly so did I) but we got around them. Figured if I could be there so could they. As long as you are minding your own business and behaving respectfully around the horses you've done everything you can do. I say forget the rude one. There is always going to be one or two out there who think that anything that upsets their poor sensitive horsie should be banned from all public lands and I say public lands are just that "public".
                                  "My biggest fear is that when I die my husband is going to try to sell all my horses and tack for what I told him they cost."


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by wendy View Post
                                    I find it weird you feel the need to talk to the riders. .
                                    I haven't read past this comment yet but I did want to say: when our group rides out on the trails and we pass people, we make an effort to engage them in a simple "hi, how are you? nice day!" kind of conversation as we go by. The horses typically seem to relax if the scary person on top of the platform to the rope swing into the river stops and says hello and proves they're human than if they just stand there and don't say anything.
                                    The Trials and Jubilations of a Twenty-Something Re-rider
                                    Happy owner of Kieran the mostly-white-very-large-not-pony.


                                    • #19
                                      Three out of four ain't bad. You know horse people, we're an odd lot. One group of oppinionated, rude riders out of four is, I think, low on the average. You did what you could. You had a right to be there and your group behaved courteously. Some folks just take themselves too seriously. Don't worry about it.

                                      I have never heard of or seen Larpers. If we ran into a group in the woods with our horses we'd be tickled. And it would be a great desensitization exercise for our horses. Excuse me, would you mind coming here with that foam sword? I'd like to use it on my horse.
                                      "Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall." - Confucious
                                      <>< I.I.


                                      • Original Poster

                                        Originally posted by jazzrider View Post
                                        I have never heard of or seen Larpers. If we ran into a group in the woods with our horses we'd be tickled. And it would be a great desensitization exercise for our horses. Excuse me, would you mind coming here with that foam sword? I'd like to use it on my horse.
                                        I would be THRILLED if someone wanted us to come closer and help like that. Ok... so maybe I just needed a horse fix or something. Be happy to help any time youre in the area.

                                        Dispatcher -- Larp stands for Live Action Role Playing. I hate to use the comparison because there's more to it than what was shown, but have you ever seen Role Models (the movie)? It's like that more or less. Different groups do different things. Some are strictly combat related... that's pretty much all you do. Others, like ours, are more story driven... there's a whole world that is "created" with monsters and magic and little plot stories the characters can react to... and combat too! Combat varies from group to group as well. I've only been involved with this one so I can only tell you what we do. Players use foam weapons -- swords, daggers, axes, etc. as well as light bows with padded arrows. Everything comes down to math -- that's how you keep track of your health (life) and damage in combat. There are certain skills you can buy at various times -- things like dodges, healings, etc. But I won't go into that... suffice it to say, it's grown up folks literally playing someone else in a fantasy world that is literally created for them (with other people playing the part of the monsters and bad guys).
                                        "Of course it's hard. It's supposed to be hard. It's the Hard that makes it great."

                                        "Get up... Get out... Get Drunk. Repeat as needed." -- Spike