1) What should we be carrying to protect ourselves: Bear spray, knives, etc.
I have to bring mace with me, since around here we have bear, mountain lions, bob cats, etc. It may sound ridiculous, but put a fannypack or something to hold the mace on your leg/boot. A knife wouldn't do much since by the time you are stabbing this animal, it is so close to you it can do irreparable damage. You could bring a baton, or a bat just for extra protection.
2) What is the right thing to do when you see a cougar while riding. Thinking of safety of the rider and the horse. Our horses were not going to face it and stand still.
[COLOR="rgb(139, 0, 0)"]I ride with my father on our trails and in my field. We have come across only bear and the occasional bob cat(they won't hurt much of anything) but when we do come across bear my father always told me eyes ahead. We have had a bear chase us once and this was because of cubs. I called wildlife officers and they came, tranquilized the bear and her cubs and relocated them. We always brought a bat with us, and pepper spray with a wide sprayer. So I'm not much help with the cougar(or mountain lion since they are the same animal), But I would suggest to NEVER put yourself in the danger of getting off your horse. Cougars/Mountain Lions stalk, and they will stalk until they feel it is the right time to attack. Bring your steady old guy, not your young one, if you must go while there is a cougar. And keep calling wildlife officers until they do something about this cougar on a well populated trail!
What always gets them is when you say "If you don't do something about it, I will!" even if you don't mean it.
Good luck and BE SAFE.[/COLOR]