I walk alone here in dangerous territory. - Page 4 - The Horse Forum
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post #31 of 50 Old 08-16-2009, 10:24 PM
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Hi folks, another lone venturer looking for mostly civil discourse and perhaps understanding. I'm not going to go into the trail work issue, as I attend trail advocacy meetings side by with Backcountry Horsemen, many whom I am on a first name basis, and they've come to me for advice on access issues.I have also experienced first hand working with BCH folks on trail clearing and some big projects. I'm also not going to address the right away/spooking thing - trail horses are pretty solid in my community, and overall we all get along.

I do want to offer some comment/discussion on the horse poop issue. I can deal with a few apples here and there scattered along the trail, but from what I've seen, there is a disregard for common courtesy about piles of poop seem to be the norm -

One, in the backcountry in Idaho. There's a beautiful lake that is a trail destination for all users: horses, hikers, bikers. It is a nationally recommended trail. It is complete with a sandy beach that is a lovely lunch spot, place to kick back, have a swim or enjoy the view. This is not solitude: on any given day you'll have many different users: hikers, backpackers, mountain bikers, fisherman and horses. On my last ride there, a group of horsemen were just leaving, and one of the critters left a huge steaming pile, right in the middle of this empty, lovely beach that is obviously being used by many visitors. We had planned a swim and lunch, and now we have sit around and look at it? The horsemen came back from their trip around the lake, and I bluntly asked them if they could clean it up so everyone else could enjoy the beach, and was basically laughed at. "it's only poop". Sure, just one steaming pile in a well visited , heavily used area. One rider DID come back to sheepishly clean it up, which was greatly appreciated. I got the impression they had snuck away from the group to do it.Lets face it folks, would you want to have lunch at a beach with a steaming pile of ANY kind of poo right in the middle?I am quite sorry to say this experience left a very negative impression.

Poop is, like most have said, biodegradable. Maybe even the fastest breaking-down poop I've ever seen. It's life. Dogs poop on trails too, and it stinks more but nobody makes a fuss over it..
They don't have dog do bags on your trail systems? They are very common around here. Dog do is stinky, and full of pathogens. In my community, there are simple laws and requirements to clean up after dogs on trails. Like I said, I don't mind a few apples, but to compare to dog do is silly.

if you are really roughing it obviously even people have to leave some some where
Leave No Trace ethics teach that you leave your human poop buried 6" in the soil and 200' away from a water source, and that you pack out the paper. If you've ever camped somewhere were humans leave piles with TP roses, under the stump 15 feet from the firepit, you'd agree that it is pretty disgusting.

From a horse persons view. I don't think we should clean out our trailers at the trail head. I think it's very incourtious to leave a pile of horse manure/straw/woodshavings etc at the parking area. If my horses crap on the black top at the trail head, I carry a manure fork in the trailer and fling the road apples off into the brush. These areas of concentrated use, should be kept clean.

. Your mentality is uncommon. I tent camp at a place where the horse users routinely shovel out their trailers right into the camp sites. We've learned over the years to bring shovels and other tools to clean the sites so that we can set up tents and walk around.

It is refreshing to hear that not everyone is habituated to horse poo as something innocuous.

As far as poop goes, when I am on the trails and my horse decides to fertilize the land, I dismount and push it off of the trail with my boot. It's just something I've been taught since the beginning. I suppose if I was a hiker or biker and I didn't appreciate horses and all that comes with them I'd be a little upset to run into poop too. But at the same time, that's what comes with riding/hiking in the middle of a national park. It's NATURE.
Again, THANK YOU but you need to know that mountain bikers are not permitted on trails in any National Park, or congressionally mandated Wilderness Areas in the USA.

thanks, lets keep moving forward..

Last edited by rider1; 08-16-2009 at 10:27 PM.
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post #32 of 50 Old 08-16-2009, 10:56 PM
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Why aren't mountain bikers allowed in National parks? I have never heard that before!

Regarding moving horse manure out of concentrated areas - You'll find that a lot of riders will move hay and manure from trailer parking areas or anywhere that their horse will be spending a lot of time in, especially if there are other "strange" horses in the area. I never let my horse eat grass in trailer areas simply because you don't know who had defecated in that area and who may or may not have worms. I completely understand about wanting to keep high traffic areas, campgrounds, etc clean, and everyone else should too. I think what people are trying to say regarding horse manure out on trails is that it is biodegradable and is not going to hurt the environment. Unsightly? Yes. Steamy, smelly, and lots of it? Yes, yes, yes. It's hard to control where your horse goes, and sometimes you don't even notice unless you have someone behind you that lets you know. You can train to some extent, as my BO's gelding will move off the trail when he has to pee. If I am on a multi-use trail, I do kick manure off the trail. When I'm riding elsewhere and haven't seen anyone the many times I've been there, I won't.
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post #33 of 50 Old 08-16-2009, 11:02 PM
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Wow. I can definitely see the issue on both sides of the fence. Being a trail rider, I have had the fortune of running in to courteous MTBRs as well as the misfortune to run into some . . . well, less than polite ones.

From an equestrian point of view:

1) Yes, if a horse is untrained, not used to trails, or quite flighty, it may be better for the horse rider to stick to trails that don't have frequent MTBRs, that don't have many blind corners. However, I don't care if it's a horse, bike or a human on foot, there is NO reason to fly around a corner blindly. It's just stupidity.
2) I have always been taught that if your horse poops, get off and shove it to the side. It's common courtesy. It actually bugs me when I see equestrians fail to do this. Yes it's inconvienient to dismount and push the poo off the trail, but you NEED to think of those you share the trail with.
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post #34 of 50 Old 08-16-2009, 11:04 PM
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Originally Posted by rider1 View Post
Again, THANK YOU but you need to know that mountain bikers are not permitted on trails in any National Park, or congressionally mandated Wilderness Areas in the USA.
Ok, my bad. I didn't know that. I meant in any place where equestrians and bikers share space.


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post #35 of 50 Old 08-16-2009, 11:11 PM
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I love how the signs at the parks here - state YEILD TO HORSES. Bikes and Walkers must yield to horses. We get the right of way :) :)

I'm never rude to bikers when we encounter one another on the trails, and I have yet to come by a biker who is rude to me. I usually move off to the side so they can pass and we usually pass pleasantries.

My horse poops while on the ride, well - that's natural. Bike tires are made of rubber, they hose off easily or they wash off when they cross the creeks. Get over it. My horse walks through other horse poop and doesn't have a tissy fit about it. I walk through horse poop and I don't call the WAHmbulance about it.

Now in the parking lot, if my horse poops while tied to the trailer, I clean it up. If my horse poops anywhere while out in the parking lot, it gets cleaned up. Whether it be a pile of hair, hay, shavings from the trailer, poop - doesn't matter, it gets cleaned up.

I've been lucky to have encountered polite and courteous bikers, I have yet to meet an ignorant one - but you bet your bippy if I do meet someone who thinks they have the right to throw words at me, I'll throw them back.

Last edited by MIEventer; 08-16-2009 at 11:19 PM.
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post #36 of 50 Old 08-17-2009, 08:21 AM
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I'll jump in here too as a mt biker. I rode horses for 10 year (age 8-18), fox hunting and trail riding. I'm 35 now. My favorite was bareback swimming through a pond.

Anyhow that other thread has a lot of drivel from people who don't have experience with horses and have probably lost trails in high population areas to equestrians. The equestrians probably lost trail to bikers too. Johnny land manager gets X number of calls about trail conflicts, so he cuts the trails in half, dividing the user groups.

On the poop issue, the hang up isn't getting it on the tires. Ride a bike through a puddle? You get wet! Same with poo, it gets spun off the tire onto clothing, into your face etc. I really think this is an issue only in well traveled areas. No one is suggesting hauling a pitchfork, one of your members here carries a dust pan (Riosdad) that I noticed in a different thread. Kicking the poop off or backing the rear end off the trail would be great.

Post holing is the biggest issue IMO. Both bikes and horses need to be more considerate and stay off public multiuse trails when conditions are wet. On narrow side slope built trails, please don't knock the "bench" off the lower edge.

On Spooky horses, I grew up with Thoroughbreds and Quarter horses. The "dumb bloods" where naturally fast and beautiful, but they would spook at a milk jug they'd been past 100 times. The Quarter horses always seemed more "reliable" on the trail. I don't know if that goes for all horses of a breed, but picking a certain breed for public trail riding could be something to consider, in addition to familiarizing a horse with other types of users.

Lastly, I'm currently helping build a trail network (County Park) that will have equestrian use. The horse folks have been out multiple times to help us. We plan on having mixed mt bike/horse trail rides to educate the different user groups. This could be done anywhere.

Lastly, horses and bikers need to work together on Wilderness issues. Sure horses are allowed in Wilderness and bikes are not. However your chainsaw isn't allowed in Wilderness, and many trails would likely disappear without the chainsaw.
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post #37 of 50 Old 08-17-2009, 08:54 AM
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I can't tell you how many trails I have had to clear with and with out a chain saw. Where legal, I take an extra horse and pack a chain saw in early in the season to cut out the dead fall. In the wilderness areas, I carry an Axe. It's a lot more work, but it is doable. I've spent many a day cutting out trees like these.

When bikers complain about equestrians not helping maintain the trails, It's because they usually don't work on a trail at the same time. Your bike club holds a Trail Maintenance day and wonders why no horsepeople show up. The Back Country Horse host a trail day and wonder why no bikers show up. We don't read each others calenders or news letters. I'm a tall man and I ride a 16 hh horse. So there are a lot of branches that hit me in the face. So I'm constantly trimming those. some times I carry pruners, But mostly I just break them off and toss them off the side of the trail. With pruners, I have one hand on the riens controlling the horse and one holding the pruner, so the branch falls where it may when cut. And I can see the comments from bikers being concerned about branches through the spokes of a wheel.

As I mention in the earlier post. Bikers have always been very courtious to me. I don't mind sharing the trails with them. I guess I don't worry about Road Apples because I don't usually ride where there are many bikers. So when I do share a trail, I treat it like every other trail.

Kinda like, is Horse manure from a couple of horses worse than ?

Last edited by Painted Horse; 08-17-2009 at 09:02 AM.
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post #38 of 50 Old 08-17-2009, 11:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Catalyst View Post

Why aren't mountain bikers allowed in National parks? I have never heard that before!
The legislation, as written in the 1964 Wilderness Act that established the federal concept of "Wilderness Area" mandates that nothing "mechanized" is allowed. This includes chainsaws and bikes. Handicapped users have a special allowance, and in certain wilderness areas like the Frank Church in Idaho, airplanes are grandfathered in. But mountain bikes? Nope, nope, and nope. It is a huge sore spot in the mountain biking community. National Parks allow mountain bikes only on (some) dirt roads, paved roads, and bike paths. There are some experiments to start allowing bikes as a test program in a very few National Parks, but it is extremely limited.
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post #39 of 50 Old 08-17-2009, 11:54 AM
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So, I did not read every post, but I did skim most of it, as well as the link posted by the OP.

Most of it is uneducated nonsense, and I won't bother with it, but I will say this. To assume that I don't have control over my animal is just silly - it's an animal, not a machine. Your bike has no mind of its own, it does what you tell it, regardless of circumstance. It never thinks for itself.

I wanted to point out that horses do not associate things the same way the people do. Seeing a bicycle on a trail is a completely different experience than seeing one at home. Unlike humans, horses do not associate objects with circumstance. A bike at home is the norm. A bike on a trail is a potential predator. Often we horse enthusiasts forget that too. We wonder why our dead broke, show seasoned arena horses who spend all their days around dogs and cars and bikes and obstacles spook at the wind on the trails - trails are different. The horse is out of its home, its territory - and is therefore on its guard.

I have several seasoned trail and competition horses who still spook at plastic bags blowing in the wind sometimes. It's just circumstance. They are prey animals, and they will protect themselves - it's instinct.

I will say, however, kudos to the individuals who chose to attempt to bridge this gap. I honestly have never had much of an issue with bikers. I live in horse country though, and horses are usually given the right of way by default - people can understand that a horse is an animal and their vehicle is a machine.

We should work together. Speeding around a corner is selfish and unthoughtful, just as galloping my horse around a corner is selfish and unthoughtful. We must all be aware that the trails will be occupied by hikers, bikers, joggers, dog walkers, equestrians, and whatever else - and that the space is to be shared. You would spook if a bicycle came barreling around the corner at you - and you're at the top of the food chain. Think about how a horse feels. We'll let you know when we're coming, if you let us know when you're coming. Easy enough, I think.

Anyway, /endrant.

My two cents.
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post #40 of 50 Old 08-18-2009, 07:32 PM
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Well, lonebiker, I'm not sure what it was that I wrote that offended you. I was a little miffed myself after reading a lot of that crap in the link, so if my intonation came off as snotty - well, it probably was.
However, I don't think the material I put in there was overly nasty. Unless it was the crap comment that got to you - even though it looked like you already are knowledgeable enough in horses that you shouldn't have taken it as a personal jibe. If it makes you feel any better, like I said in my first post, several of the saddle clubs and trail clubs I am in, including the one I started, make their own trail maintenance days. We work on several public trails, including ones we rarely, if ever ride. Can the same be said of every trail club? Probably not. Mountain Bikers don't bother me. To be honest, there really aren't many around this area, but there are a few in my neighborhood that seem to think that my personal horse trails are there exclusively for them. I've even had some tell me to find another place to ride my horses - when on my own property. Go figure on that one.

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