Anyone got any tips/experiences for riding alongside roads?
This is something I've been thinking about a lot lately. The place where I keep my horses, down the road there's access to an extensive network of trails including beaches. To get there, it requires traveling along about 3 miles of the fairly busy coastal hwy 1 (in California).
I'm not entirely at ease with the idea as I've never done it much before. I'm not so much concerned about my horses as I hold them to pretty high standards of being trained as I am the drivers (as anyone who has lived in California can probably attest to :wink:). Hardly a day goes by when I don't hear sirens passing by on their way to yet another wreck in the area. On the other hand, it's maddening to think of all those trails within reach that I could be using.
Anyone do this much?
I think you have brass balls to be riding down 1! lol
I am a chicken, I probably wouldn't do it. But I think a lot would depend on your horses and how big the shoulder is that would be riding on.
I have no place to ride at my house so I trailer a couple times a week to the fairgrounds to ride but occasionaly I will trot down the road to get to some back roads to ride on so I am not constantly arena riding. The half mile down a busy one is not all that fun, garbage, culverts, other horses, attack roosters, crazy drivers..etc. It can get exciting. I ride one, pony one to do double duty too.
Baby steps! Begin by leading/riding your horse near the road, where you are close enough to hear the traffic, but far enough that no amount of spooking/bolting will end up with you or your horse being in the road. Slowly work closer, over many days--not all in one day! When you are fairly confident that your horse will NOT spook at any amount of noise from the road, begin leading up by the road...little intervals at first. If things are still solid, go ahead and ride down the side of the road, beginning with small intervals and getting bigger. Slow process, I know...but who wants to get hit by a car??!?! I would really only advise it if there's a good side area to ride in where nobody's likely to hit you unless you spook big. Even then, might be best to get off and walk...I haven't personally seen this road, so I don't know really. I will say that I have to go up and cross the road in a TERRIBLE spot to get to some of my favorite trails, and to cross elsewhere I have to ride down a fairly busy road(busy for here anyway) and I do this to get my horse and myself prepared. Depending on how scary it is and how well your horse does with all this, maybe it's best to find an alternative route...but if that was possible you probably wouldn't have asked! Good luck!
It really depends on how much shoulder there is off of the asphalt. I personlly will only ride a very short distance on the asphalt as I prefer some kind of barrier (ditch, curb, grass, etc) between myself and the vehicles. Most people tend to respect riders but to many are not paying attention as they text, change stations, eat, day dream, whatever and come over the white line.
Safety safety safety safety!!!
As I don't have a trailer, I tend to have to ride down some crazy roads to get to someplace to ride. The cars are your worse enemey.
Bomb proof your horse - slowly. Then be prepared for the worse. Twice, in the last 30 years I have had cars clip so close to my horse that they have hit me with thier side mirrors - leaving nasty bruises on my legs. Once I had the presence of mind to pull my cell phone out of my pocket and take a pick of the guys license plate. His company was not too excited to get the call from the state police about my possibly pressing charges on assult with a deadly weapon. I dropped charges in exchange for them firing the driver.
People honking horns is another problem. Make sure your horse is ok with that. Jsut a few months ago I was riding my gelding, ponying a two year old and had a green horse/rider out with us. A deliverly truck snugged up tight abrest of the green horse and within a foot of my two year old before hitting his horn. My gelding held it together. The filly FREAKED out as did the green horse who dumped his rider. No one was hurt, but I did not have a free hand to get his plate number.
hehe and decades ago, I heard a car flying down a one lane road and when my horse started to freak out, I did my best to get him off the road, but as the car flew past, he let go with both back feet and CRUSHED in the driver's side door! The guy stopped, took one look at the pistol I was packing, and drove off.
I have also had a woman snug so tight up to the back of my horse cart while we waited at a green light that when my horse got a bit excited and backed up three feet he pushed the cart right up onto the hood of her car! Totalled her paint job PLUS the cop that was driving by wrote her a ticket!
But that is the worst of it. A lot of times, cars will slow down and try to pass us like we were a car with lots of room. We get waved at LOTS. And a lot of cars just ignore the horse - about 90% of them. As long as you have at least a foot off the side of the road, they could care less that you are there.
I woudl rather not ride on the road, but I am not afraid of it.
Where I live there are no real trails, so I ride along the roads all the time. Granted we are out in the country but the roads have next to no shoulder and there is a high school about a mile up the road. There are a few things I've picked up over time...
1) School bus drivers are the WORST! They rarely slow down and never move over. Me and my mustang got DRENCHED one day when they blew at full speed through a big puddle right next to us. :-P Those buses are loud too!
2) There are some idiots (mostly those with motorcycles and classic cars) who think it is cool to REV their engines as they pass you.
3) People will honk, so be prepared.
4) People will also stop and talk to you.
5) Even if you have worked long and hard at desensitizing your horse I would never take a horse who can be at all spooky along the road. Just when you think you have prepared for every possible scenario, something else unimaginable will pop up. All the horses I ride are pretty much bombproof:)
I like to start my horses out just standing by the road watching the vehicals travel back and forth. Keep getting closer the more your horse is relaxed. Then Find a place with a nice shoulder and work the there with cars going by.
The roads are very different in the UK, but I concur with everything said by the others with regards to traffic-proofing your horse and having an eye out for the idiot drivers.
One thing that is quite popular in some parts of the UK (traffic and driver's approach to horses varies massively depending on what part of the country you are in) is Hi-Visibility vests that look remarkably similar to Police Vests. Until the driver slows right down and gets close enough to read the small print, he thinks he's passing a mounted police officer.
Where I am the drivers are courteous and sensible. But I appreciate that is not always the case for everyone.
I would certainly choose to ride down the road if it took me to lovely hacking, so good luck with it.
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