This last Sunday, I was fortunate enough to participate in a program sponsored by Boulder County Open Space called a Mile in my Boots. Or something like that. The name was kind of catchy-ish but not catchy enough for me to remember. Basically, we got together a bunch of outspoken hikers, trail runners, mountain bikers, and equestrians to all enjoy trails, tales, and hopefully to learn a little about each other. We all met at the Joder Ranch, a private area north of Boulder. Trails were all new and the horses were familiar to the trails so as not to get too spooked. It was a cool place. We started with a briefing of the days activities. We would split into 2 groups. Each group would have a few hikers, a few mountain bikes, and a few equestrians. Each group was to head out on a 1.5 mile loop in opposite directions, ensuring that we would meet in the middle. Every 1/2 mile on the trail, everyone in each group would change mode of travel. Every time we'd change mode of travel, we'd discuss what we learned. I learned that horses think for themselves too much.
View from the cockpit.
Yours truly on a horse.
We can really all get along.
Pizza ensures cooperation.
Really, at the end of the day, what we really learned, we knew all along. Communication was paramount above all else. Regardless of the "trail pyramid" of who yeilds to whom, what really seemed to matter most was that we communicate with our brethren trail users be they on a bike or a big assed hoofed animal, or on foot. We even got some died in the wool, old school equestrians on bikes, and I think it really helped. They saw that speed and control are not mutually exclusive, and that most of us actually know what's up. It was a good excersise.
If you see a horse, talk to them, make them know your human, and talk to the rider. Most of them are pretty cool and will allow you the leeway you need to enjoy your day. Don't bomb past them. Horses get a-scared easily and can throw the rider. Not good. Guess that's why I prefer my horse to have 2 wheels and rubber tires. At least it's my fault if I get thrown.