Originally I'm from outside of D.C., where the largest predators I've dealt with are cute red foxes. Last summer, my husband and I moved to Los Angeles, where I promptly found an amazing horse to lease (why won't they sell her!?!) near the Los Angeles National Forest.
Though I knew there was the possibility of Mountain Lions, I figured/hoped I would not run into one.
So, recently, when Playday (the Wonder Horse) and I were trotting along the trail home and I spotted a large animal standing in the middle of the trail ahead I thought it was the Coyote of Unusual Size we had met earlier. Then I noticed it moved like a cat. 'Bobcat' I thought hopefully. I'd heard those sometimes made an appearance.
Then, it turned sideways. Long, twitching tail. Very Big. I almost had a heart attack. I didn't know what to do! Playday didn't seem to realize the danger...we were on the part of the trail where we often canter and she wanted to get to stepping. So. I ended up following the lion.
It would walk, we would walk. It would stop and contemplate us. I would debate the merits of running away or running toward it while trying to remember what Laura Ingalls Wilder's dad did when encountering panthers on horseback. Playday would jig, desperate for a nice canter.
We did this for quite a while. Until finally it veered off up the mountain. I waited a minute...then scurried past. And saw it looking at us as it rubbed its face happily on a tree like a house cat would your leg.
So. My question is this:
I now know it was wise not to run away....but what do I do? Some have said to yell, some have said to make myself big, some have said to turn around and walk calmly away. I've also heard I should have just veered off and trailblazed myself to to a nearby creek, then ridden down said creek until it crossed over the trail I had originally been on.
I am not likely to do the last suggestion. Way too much Poison Oak and potential for snakes. Unless that's really the safest?
Anyway, I'm hoping those with way more scary-exciting-yet-heart-stopping predator encounter experience can advise.
OH! Also, lately there's been a lot of bear sightings on the news, and I've heard it's possible I may run into those as well....what do I do then?