Being Bear Aware! - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 24 Old 05-17-2010, 01:56 PM Thread Starter
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Being Bear Aware!

Yo, I enjoyed some good trail riding this weekend. We rode out on the back 100 acres and enjoyed God's wonderful creation. Bonnie (my lady friend) is quite new at riding and over 50, having never riden before, so I am teaching her the very basics and working on her balance, strength, posture and confidence....controlling the horse and connecting, getting to be firm, assertive and show her horse that her leadership can be trusted. It is a slow process and I have to accept that she may never get up to a gallop. I don't want her getting hurt!

Anyways, a few other conderations is being able to deal with the horse spooking and being careful of surprises and the unexpected. I'm getting used to looking for animals and finding them before my horse does. So far this year I've seen 4 bears. Three times while riding and I saw them and turned around before my horse did. I'm not yet sure how my horses will react or just how to get both of us (my horse and I) prepared for it, but the time will come, I'm sure. Grasshopper...I'm not too worried about (when I'm on her) but Gypsygirl....we're still working on our "partnership". But coming across a bear with Bonnie on Gasshopper (whom she rides) ....uuuuhhhh, NO! Not yet! Please!

But the other day when we were riding I was explaining to her that we need to try and spot bears before the horses do, and sure enough I had no sooner said that and I saw a bear through a clump of trees. I was riding ahead of Bonnie so I told her to turn around and head back, that there was a bear up ahead. So we got turned around and trotted back. Whew! Turned out it was a black bear...mother and cub. Most times they will run from the sight of humans, but I'm concerned with our horses reactions if they see them.

We've heard of a few things that can be done to ward off bears, from whistles to bells, but if anyone has any advise, knowledge of how horses react and some information to prepare for an "incident" wouold be appreciated. Thanks.
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post #2 of 24 Old 05-17-2010, 10:27 PM
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Where are you located? What kind of bears are you running into?

Grizzlies always make me nervous, but black bears seem to move away given the opportunity.
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post #3 of 24 Old 05-18-2010, 12:27 AM
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I live in the shenandoah valley

here in the shenandoah valley va, we see black bears all the time......I have been 10 feet from one when it walked out in front of me...My horse was just was me who had the nervous break when I see them we just calmly divert.....only on two or three occassions out of at least a hundred have I ever had any time I noticed the bear was closing in on me and we were out of there so fast, I cannot tell you where the bear dropped off at.......Generally the bears just move off slowly.
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post #4 of 24 Old 05-18-2010, 12:36 AM Thread Starter
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I am located in the interior of BC Canada. Kamloops. Okanagan area.

So far just black bears and brown bears. I've seen them from quite a when they finally saw me they ran away. When I'm by myself I like to stay in the open fields and meadows so that I can see things around me. What concerns me most is how my horses will react...and staying on!

I know that Grasshopper has seen them before and she is quite controlable with a confident rider. While I'm not sure if Gypsygirl has even seen one, so she might not react scared not knowing what it is. I know she does spook if she's surprised by something from behind.

What I want to do when riding Grasshopper some day is...when (if) I see a bear I will try to get her to see it (from a distance) and see how she reacts.

Last edited by RawhideKid; 05-18-2010 at 12:38 AM.
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post #5 of 24 Old 05-18-2010, 06:15 AM
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We don't have any bears where I live but last year while riding in the Shenendoah. I met my first black bear. We startled it and needless to say it did the same to us. It didn't phase my horse at all. He just stopped and looked...not worried in the least...Now me I was worried but knew what to do...So we back tracked and all was good....

Never Ride Faster than your guardian angel can fly

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post #6 of 24 Old 05-18-2010, 06:48 AM
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Good idea.... look out for Mountain lions as well.
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post #7 of 24 Old 05-18-2010, 10:11 AM
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There are very few predators that want to pick a fight with a human. Grizzly bears are one of the few that will.

Most mountain lions are curious and will watch you to see what you are. And if you run it can trigger their chase instinct. But mostly once they satisfy their curiosty, They want nothing to do with humans. With a cougar you want to maintain eye contact and appear as big as possible. Be noisy and just back away if they don't leave.

Bears if they are in an area where they are hunting will pretty much behave the same. Cougars will almost always retreat, Bears if they feel cornered will wade into fight. So always give them an easier alternative to leave and they usually will.

If your horses are used to dogs be around them, the first sighting of a bear usually does not excite them. Of course if the bear charges or shows aggression, your horse is going to percieve them as being different than the friendly dogs along for a trail ride.

We came over a ridge and spotted a sow Grizzly and two cubs on the edge of the forest. They were about 200 yards off. We sat on the horses and quitely watched them for 5 minutes, before the mother caught our scent. With a loud Woof, she and cubs retreated into the forest. On other occassions I've had grizzlies come right up and challenge us for our fish in Alaska. If you are in their fishing hole or near what their food source, They will be agressive.

Grizzly bears intimidate me. Black Bears and Cougars do not.

So far I'm not sure what to think of the wolves. We've encountered a few packs. They have quickly fled when they spoted us. I don't have enough experience with them to know whether to worry or not,

Here is a picture of a wolf fleeing after we spotted it. ( at the end of the red line)
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post #8 of 24 Old 05-18-2010, 11:08 AM Thread Starter
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Right on. Thanks for the tips....the very "grizzly" tips!

Some very good info. Yes, I've seen coyotes and wolves as well, and they usually flee away. But now...wolves in packs...hungry wolves...????'m not knowing...nor wanting to finding out!
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post #9 of 24 Old 05-18-2010, 01:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Painted Horse View Post
On other occassions I've had grizzlies come right up and challenge us for our fish in Alaska.
Bet you didn't put up much resistance

Grizzly bears intimidate me. Black Bears and Cougars do not.
Same here. Though I don't have any experience of horse/bear encounters, I've met a number out hiking &c, or even in the yard, and haven't had any problems. As long as you look too big to be an easy meal, and aren't threatening them or their cubs, you should be ok.

The problem with grizzlies is that you ARE an easy meal
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post #10 of 24 Old 05-18-2010, 02:11 PM
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I was in MT with a elk guide for a summer horse trip in the mountains. He told us that we don't need to worry about bears around the horses (unless we get in between mother/cub) because bears are aware of how dangerous a horse can be. Something about a bear's skull being thinner and a horse could crush it?

He really didn't like wolves though and told us that we did need to be worried/aware of wolf packs when riding/camping.

Not sure how much of that I believed.
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