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#167097 - 06/22/12 02:55 PM Hikers and Horses sharing the trail
mayfly Offline
newbie

Registered: 06/20/12
Posts: 1
Hi Everyone! I am new to this forum and am excited to meet everyone. Anyway, I work for a horseback outfitter in Yellowstone. A lot of our horse trails are also shared with hikers. The hikers out here are extremely respectful of our animals, but I want to make sure we aren't doing anything that bothers the hikers. I was wondering if anyone had any input on what we could do to make things easier on the hikers. Does anyone have any things that bother them when horses pass them on the trail or things they wish horseback riders would do when sharing a trail with hikers?

Thanks for the ideas!


Edited by aimless (06/22/12 07:15 PM)
Edit Reason: moderator edit to remove a link to a commercial site

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#167105 - 06/22/12 06:05 PM Re: Hikers and Horses sharing the trail [Re: mayfly]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada

A lot of hikers will start enumerating:

Poop, Urine, Flies, Torn up Trail, etc.

This is sort of unavoidable in a horse area and doesn't bother me terribly. Some people will not be tolerant and will object. If you keep your horse out of camping areas and water supplies, I'm ok with all that stuff. (Although I avoid shared horse trails in "high fly" season. I hate horsflies)

I have *very occasionally* up here seen riders here that will, for example, in a section where (if you have a brain) the horses should obviously go down the streambed, and the hikers are on something narrow above it, take the horses down the hiker trail and affect something narrow and important for hikers. sometimes this is annoying smile

The usual "other guy" syndrome you'll find a lot from hikers "packers leave trash and don't give a damn" - (same can be said for some hikers) I don't subscribe to that theory myself believing that there are good and bad apples in both camps.

My biggest concern is really, skittish, poorly trained horses. I've had occasions where I will give the horse the trail, and ok, it's a relatively tight spot, and I've only stepped aside - then had riders go to pass and have the horse pitch a minor fit, with the rider saying "I didn't move off enough - he's skittish" - really... if he's that damn skittish, *don't take him on a trail with hikers* - your horse, your responsibility.

Combine that with an attidude that I'm "in the way" for being in a place that puts him in an awkward place where he won't control his horse, while *I'm* the one worried about getting stomped - Those encounters, (althoug rare) leave me with an annoyed feeling. Understaning that we will

1) share the trail reasonably
2) be smaller and afraid of your horse
3) expect you to have a well trained and stable animal on the trail. If you bring your Destrier that is fit for jousting and stomping the groundbound, don't expect "sympathy" from us, any more than you'd expect sympathy from us if you were bringing an unmuzzled fighting dog on the trail.

(I feel the same way about dogs, btw smile



Oh, and one final thing, it's not about passing. Holy crap, when you bed down for the night don't leave your horse to wander with a big old set of bells on him! I recall very distinctly moving *away* from a trailhead camp because the horsepackers there wouldn't tie their animals but just put a ton of clanking metal on them.. I don't want to sleep somewhere that it sounds like a frying pan and cowbell symphony. The best part of it was, I drove a click down the road, and hammocked in the pines with my son. Halfway through the night, I got the frying pan concert, getting louder and louder till they hung around below me. I walked out of my hammock to the truck and attempted to shoo them off.. (there were 2) No luck. they simply were walking down the road and hanging around my truck. I went back, retrieved my car key, and set off the car alarm (with two horses staring into the lights that came on). That set them moving away (rapidly, down the road, leaving lots of startled horse buns in their wake) and I got sleep.

Next morning we passed these characters "seen a couple horses"? "nope.. sorry.. Some poop back there on the road that looks fresh tho".

So if you're camped remember - not everyone wants to hear the bells on your horse all night smile




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#167106 - 06/22/12 06:11 PM Re: Hikers and Horses sharing the trail [Re: phat]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada

Having said all that - most of my encounters with horspackers are universally no problem at all. I'm listing the exceptions to tell you what not to do.

Oh if you want to make a name for yourself and you're packing a heavy camp with a percolator don't be afraid to offer a cup of real brewed coffee. Most of us don't carry that, but certainly are not too proud to accept such a thing wink Horsepackers that offer me a cup of percolated coffee in exchange for a tall tale or two leave me with a warm fuzzy feeling.

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#167110 - 06/22/12 07:14 PM Re: Hikers and Horses sharing the trail [Re: mayfly]
aimless Offline
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Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2835
Loc: Portland, OR
I will second the experience of horsepackers being normally good neighbors and conscientious users of the wilderness.

Since you asked, one thing which has bothered me in the past is when horses have been tethered or bedded down in a nice, flat space that is clearly best reserved as a tent spot, which then becomes unusable for tents for a considerable time after the horses leave. Annoying as heck.

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#167117 - 06/22/12 11:39 PM Re: Hikers and Horses sharing the trail [Re: aimless]
OregonMouse Online   content
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6368
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
I probably have more tolerance for horses than most because I have always loved horses and because I grew up horsepacking. I really don't mind the poop (it dries up fast). I also recognize that horse trails came first and that a significant amount of trail maintenance, especially at a farther distance from trailheads, is done by the Backcountry Horsemen and other volunteer groups. A lot of hikers seem to forget that!

Like aimless, I do mind when horses are tethered overnight in what would otherwise be a good camp place. That's especially an issue on the west side of the Cascades where camp sites are limited because of the amount of underbrush. I also mind when general "LNT" rules aren't followed or when trash is left behind, regardless of the mode of transport.

Phat, the horse survived for millennia by running first and asking questions later. It's the nature of the beast! Even the most gentle horse will spook on occasion, just as the sweetest, most loveable dog will bite if sufficiently provoked. There's also the issue that a horse cannot be trained for trail work by leaving him at home--the only place to train a horse for trail work is out on the trail. It's normally the group leader who will be riding the green horse. It doesn't hurt to give them some extra room--for your safety as well as that of the horse and rider.
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#167129 - 06/23/12 10:32 AM Re: Hikers and Horses sharing the trail [Re: mayfly]
ABcowgrl Offline
member

Registered: 06/04/12
Posts: 22
Loc: Alberta
I used to guide pack trips professionally,now I just do my own for my family.I always try to harber good relations with everyone we meet.The main campground managers know me well,and I always let them know what area we'll be in..If they have an emergency come up (lost hiker) we get a radio call and help out.Be aware.If you come across hikers and something doesn't seem right,stop and ask if they need help.I've ponied afew hurt hikers back to the campground, and rode like a bat outta hell to get more help on acouple occasions too.If your sharing a camp,TALK to the hikers,ask if theirs anything bothering them,invite them to your group for coffee,share trail info,ect.
Basically,instead of keeping a "we're a seperate group" mentaliity,remember that we're all out there for the same reasons,we just got there in a different way smile

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#167164 - 06/24/12 01:58 PM Re: Hikers and Horses sharing the trail [Re: OregonMouse]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Originally Posted By OregonMouse
There's also the issue that a horse cannot be trained for trail work by leaving him at home--the only place to train a horse for trail work is out on the trail. It's normally the group leader who will be riding the green horse. It doesn't hurt to give them some extra room--for your safety as well as that of the horse and rider.


Oh, I give 'em room where I can, but on the side of a slope a lot isn't always possible.

And I do understand you have to train the critter on the trail, but face it, just like with a dog, you can get the horse used to passing *people* without taking it out on a trail and putting *me* in a tight spot. I believe you have to train a horse for the trail on the trail - I don't believe for a minute you can't train a horse to deal sensibly with people on the ground near it sensibly elsewhere and every day. Until the beast is gentle enough to deal with that, don't take it on the trail.

(and sure a heck don't give me a bunch of attitude that I didn't climb 20 feet off trail upslope in loose guck so your horse pitched a fit and it's my fault)

Yeah, I admit it - the attitude of the rider in the case I'm talking about made me a lot more annoyed than the horse wink Made me almost wish I'd just slapped the horse on the butt with a pole to send it on it's way - if it wasn't for it would probably get the poor horse hurt and not just the ignoramus riding it wink


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#167165 - 06/24/12 01:59 PM Re: Hikers and Horses sharing the trail [Re: ABcowgrl]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Originally Posted By ABcowgrl
If your sharing a camp,TALK to the hikers,ask if theirs anything bothering them,invite them to your group for coffee,share trail info,ect.
Basically,instead of keeping a "we're a seperate group" mentaliity,remember that we're all out there for the same reasons,we just got there in a different way smile


Absolutely.
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#167225 - 06/25/12 02:12 PM Re: Hikers and Horses sharing the trail [Re: phat]
packlite Online   content
Admin

Registered: 12/22/01
Posts: 2406
Loc: Pullman, WA, USA
I agree with all the feedback give to the OP.

The OP asked for feedback to enable the horse rider to make things better for hikers. I think we've done that.

Not exactly "on-topic" but a personal philosophy and practice - I respect all pack animals and give right-of-way as best I can the same as I do for up-hill hikers. Pet dogs, on the other hand, I stand ready to defend myself with stick, poles, staff, whatever. I have had to do so on multiple occasions much to the chagrin of their owners. I own five dogs by the way.

As is the case with pet dogs, most problems we hikers have with pack animals is really a problem with their handlers not the animals themselves and the feedback recognizes that accordingly.

I hope the OP responds to our feedback - and wasn't here just to post the commercial link.


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#167238 - 06/25/12 07:54 PM Re: Hikers and Horses sharing the trail [Re: phat]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3865
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
My own experience with horses is that just about anything out of the ordinary that moves will make some of them nervous, phat. I think OM is right, it's in their nature. Most trail horses are good natured and calm though, and they're chosen for the job because of that trait, and fired from the job if they don't have it or care to learn it.

Burros are a lot steadier in that regard. That's why they make a good pack animal. (well, that and they're not as picky about what they eat wink

I just try and stand out of the way and not to move much when a horse passes me on the trail. I can't say I've ever had a problem with horses on trails. I've always enjoyed sharing the trail with them and their riders, and to be honest, a little envious of them both. Riding a horse into the wilderness is about as much fun as I've ever had and I would never turn down an opportunity to do it again.
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#167396 - 06/29/12 03:32 PM Re: Hikers and Horses sharing the trail [Re: billstephenson]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2742
Loc: California
Last year two women on horses tied their horses ON THE TRAIL, while they had lunch. When I looked at them they said "Oh, they are gentle, just go by and pet them". Well, I am NOT a horse person and it sounded a lot like all those dog owners who say fido is friendly and then he bites me. Do not make hikers get too close to your horses - most of us are not familiar with horses and may even be scared of them.

I have been told that on a slope hikers should get off the trail on the downhill side. Supposedly it spooks the horses less. However, if the horse does get spooked I do not like being downhill where he could fall on top of me. What IS the preferable location of a hiker when they get off the trail to let horses by?


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#167397 - 06/29/12 03:56 PM Re: Hikers and Horses sharing the trail [Re: wandering_daisy]
Pika Online   content
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1726
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
The rule is that the hiker is supposed to get off the trail on the downhill side. Like you, I don't like being downhill from a neurotic horse. For this reason, I always go uphill unless there is no alternative. I have gotten a few rude comments from riders for this but I just suggest that the horse may need a better driver.

I have nearly been run down by folks on horses because it took me more time than the rider thought appropriate for me to get off the trail. Some horse people, not all by any means, can really be jerks.

In a similar vein, the mule trains in the Grand Canyon operate on a "tonnage right of way" basis. Some parts of the Bright Angel Trail don't have an uphill and downhill side unless you consider a cliff to be the trail shoulder. Hikers and mules have to share the trail and some of the mule riders and the trip leaders can be overly aggressive in seeing that they have their share of the trail. They are much prone to taking their half out of the middle and leaving you the two outside quarters.
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#167795 - 07/12/12 02:18 AM Re: Hikers and Horses sharing the trail [Re: Pika]
ndwoods Offline
member

Registered: 01/26/02
Posts: 572
Loc: Santa Cruz CA, Sierra Hiker
I have no probs with horses at all. I wish we had more in my park in fact to chew up the ground a bit cuz bikes have made it hard as cement.

I'll address a couple of points since I am a horse person. Horses are prey animals which means they don't think you are going to hurt them...they think you are going to eat them. But savvy handlers are good leaders and a horse is a herd animal and will settle down with a good leader. From what I have observed packers are generally good leaders so I don't worry about their horses so much.

And...as far as being on the downhill side goes, a horse that spooks at you is going to spook AWAY from you. Again, he doesn't want to be eaten. So...it would be far better to have a horse spook uphill with a heavy load or a green rider, than downhill. Just food for you to think on....:)

As far as the manure goes, it's great compost and I would rather see horse manure than human waste and TP under every rock and behind every bush like in some well used spots.

Lastly, bless the packers who go early season and clear the downfall from the trail! smile

Dee
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#167802 - 07/12/12 11:51 AM Re: Hikers and Horses sharing the trail [Re: ndwoods]
balzaccom Offline
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 1717
Loc: Napa, CA
All good points, Nwoods.

ON the other side of the coin, we do find that packers tend to use the same sites over and over again...and that those sites are not only compacted into concrete, but clear of any living green for a large area.

And the people on those horses may also leave their TP and human waste under every rock.

I think it would be great if packers had a policy to rotate their campsite use so that it was never used more than 20-% of the time by any group....but that's not usually the way they operate. They have their favorite spots, complete with areas to hobble or tie up the horses, and they use them to death.
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#170324 - 10/10/12 12:21 PM Re: Hikers and Horses sharing the trail [Re: mayfly]
Barefoot Friar Offline
member

Registered: 01/23/09
Posts: 175
Loc: Houston, Alabama
I know this is an older thread, but I've been away for a while and didn't see it.

First, thank you to the OP for taking the time to ask. That puts you miles beyond all the other horse people I've come across over the years.

I'm not a horse person, so I freely admit I know little about the whole experience. But I can say with certainty that when I'm following a shared trail, there are usually places where the ground is churned to mud-mixed-with-poop. I'm on foot, and I have to cross those spots. Sometimes there is a small foot trail above and around the muddy area, and I'm able to walk that small trail and bypass the muck. It irritates the absolute living snot out of me when that smaller bypass trail has also been churned to muck by horses.

The poop I can deal with, as well as the flies and most of the mud.

The only other thing is that people on horses don't own that trail any more than I do. We're both using it to our own purposes, and just because one is on a horse doesn't make him/her any better than me. In the same way, me being on foot doesn't make me any better. In other words, politeness goes a long way.
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#170331 - 10/10/12 02:19 PM Re: Hikers and Horses sharing the trail [Re: mayfly]
aimless Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2835
Loc: Portland, OR
I am new to this forum and am excited to meet everyone.

This was (and is) a good thread, but I'm afraid the original poster who was so "excited" to meet everyone never posted here again, not even to acknowledge having read our answers. I suspect that the excitement was feigned and the whole point of the thread was posting a commerical link. (sigh)

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#170347 - 10/10/12 05:37 PM Re: Hikers and Horses sharing the trail [Re: aimless]
OregonMouse Online   content
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6368
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Yes, we moderators see a lot of those! We've had a bunch recently--come on here, post half a dozen to a dozen posts that are friendly but really have no content, and then edit their posts overnight to include spam. We also have an occasional new poster who thinks that if he puts up 10 posts in a day with no real content, he is then entitled to post ads in the "for sale" section.

We moderators watch such posters but really can't do anything about them until the spam or for sale ad is actually posted. If you wonder why some posters, such as the OP here, disappear never to return, it's because they are banned from the forum once the spam hits. Sometimes the threads they start become excellent discussions, even if that wasn't the OP's intention! That was certainly the case here!
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