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- - Riding on the road..or near it (http://www.horseforum.com/trail-riding/riding-road-near-93348/)
Riding on the road..or near it
Have you done it before? What are your thoughts on it? Any advice?
I've been wanting to learn more about riding on the road (or next to it) with my horse. I live on a country road that doesn't have too many cars go by everyday...the only way to get to a nice trail is to cross the road! But, I've been too afraid lately to do it. Should I be afraid?
I wouldn't say afraid, but very cautious. If you've never taken your horse by a road before you do not know how he/she will react. If you are seriously considering this i would start by taking your horse out at a time that you know not many cars will be on the road, say early sunday morning. I would not push too much or be gone for a long trail ride.
There are some inconsiderate drivers out there who will not give you any room and will fly passed you. I hate to say but you dont really know how your horse will react until youre out there.
And as a word of advice, look out for those motocycles. My horse hates them, especially when they are Harleys and they travel in packs.
I've done a lot of riding on roads, both dirt country roads and on the side of country highways. It is a risk, yes, but you can do several things to minimise that risk:
a.) If you are going to be afraid, don't do it as your horse will sense your apprehension and will in turn be fearful.
b.) Leg yielding is your friend, make sure that your horse will move off your leg without hesitation, this is the best way to ensure you stay on the side of the road and do not interfere with traffic.
c.) Test your horse out on a quiet road and see how he/she responds to cars driving past, tractors and other unusual things you may encounter etc. You may be surprised at what your horse balks at! For example my grey girl couldn't care less about cars whizzing past her but a wheelie bin or letter box? Apparently they were horse eating monsters to her.
Well since i live in an area where there is nowhere to ride except on roads (gravel & paved) i do alot of it. I dont think there's anything to worry about. I've never seen a horse become worried about a road although some can be a little unsure of pavement at first until they get used to it, which doesnt take long in my experience.
Just watch out for traffic of course and if you see a car coming, just bring your horse to the side of the road and make him stand & watch the vehicle coming. Most people i find are considerate & slow down, but some dont. Truckers are also really bad for honking there horns just for the heck of it.
My horses are all used to traffic & will walk along in the ditches next to the main highway and not blink an eye. Once you're sure your horse is confident around vehicles you will be able to just keep riding when a car goes by.
As wetrain17 mentioned, be aware especially of motorcycles. Most of the ones I've come across aren't particularly considerate of horses.
I was on a trail ride with a friend and was riding one of the horses from the dude string at our stable (since Aires isn't broke yet). We were crossing the road on our way back and my friend crossed first, but we had to wait for some traffic (it's not an overly busy road usually, but this was a Saturday, so it was busier than normal). I waited until there were no cars coming except a motorcycle that was about a mile off. Reno (the horse I was riding) was being a bit slow, but not overly so. However, this motorcyclist SPED UP so that he would reach us before we got off the road. When he did reach us (we were almost off the road at that point), he revved his engine and flashed his lights at us. Reno caught it out of the corner of his eye and FREAKED! Took off at a dead gallop straight for home. Luckily I stayed in the oversized saddle they had on him and got him back under control within a few dozen yards. This is a horse that crosses that same road several times a day usually on trail rides, so he's used to traffic and the like.
Not saying this to scare you or anything...just as a warning that even "traffic safe" horses can freak out at something.
The advantage of living with people who ride motorcycles.... My horses don't bat an eye at them. I'm surprised you've all had such bad experiences with them too. Most of the riders I know and have encountered on the road are extremely considerate of horses. They're much more aware of the damage a 1000+ lb animals can do to themselves and the bike.
Probably the most important thing is to have a horse that is calm and not all that spooky. It helps if your horse looks to you FIRST when he sees something "scary." You also need to be calm and not all that spooky. :D
If you have a smaller road or even a long driveway get someone to drive up/down it with you riding next to it. Not road speeds of course but will give you an idea of your horse's mindframe when encountered with a moving vehicle.
Watch out for broken glass and other debris on the road too.
What out how your horse reacts to bicyclists coming up from behind. They are quiet and many horses have the 'something is sneaking up on me' reaction.
Also, keep in mind that if you're riding on asphalt, your horse doesn't have the same traction as on dirt/grass...i.e. they can't get any 'dig' into it.
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