Riding alongside the road - Safe? - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 41 Old 03-01-2014, 07:15 AM
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I would think that the time of day would be important.
After 9:30 (most morning job traffic is off the road)
Before 3:30 ( most haven't left for home).

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post #12 of 41 Old 03-01-2014, 08:02 AM
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We have to ride a short distance down and then cross a reasonably busy secondary highway to get to the trails where we lease our horses. Honestly, it was my first time ever having to ride across such and the first few times we dismounted and walked the horses so that I could see how they reacted, despite their owner telling me that they were comfortable around most anything. Better safe than sorry.

Sure enough, cars, trucks, pretty much nothing bothers them. They have paid more than a little attention to the snowmobiles on and off this year, although that really depends on how aggressively (or not) the snowmobile is coming at them, direction, etc - we just stop and talk to them calmly until it's passed, and then move along - they have become increasingly desensitized as the winter has went on, really. Cars, trucks, and just about anything else doesn't really bother then honestly.

It's all about their exposure level. If it's their first time there's no way I'd do it while mounted. If they're used to it, you still need to be prepared for the possibility of a spook - a pop can on the shoulder of the road caused my gelding to shy a few weeks ago while walking the shoulder, but thankful once he realized it wasn't going to eat him he walked past it..but a spookier horse could have darted into a lane. As others have mentioned, caution and preparedness is key.

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post #13 of 41 Old 03-01-2014, 08:55 AM
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I did have someone make a beeline for us and honking, revving etc.

Another thing to consider though, a lady at our barn went for a ride down the road and a dog ran out and attacked. He managed to chomp onto her horses back legs and she fell. Some neighbors came running out and managed to get the dog off of them. They got lucky. Juat depends on your area, but be aware.
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post #14 of 41 Old 03-01-2014, 09:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Kiara View Post
Another thing to consider though, a lady at our barn went for a ride down the road and a dog ran out and attacked.
A very real risk - some (not all) dogs that haven't been exposed to horses before seem to think that they look like giant intruders that must be defended against. And some are mortified of them and either shy, or run away.

We had a dog that was very clearly looking to eat us take a bolt at us a few months back, but thankfully came to a very abrupt stop at the end of his leash...I'm surprised it didn't snap it's own neck actually considering how fast it was bolting towards us. I don't think it would have ended well should he have not been leashed.

I was REALLY glad both our horses are level headed and have been exposed to dogs, as aside from a shudder and a snort they both stood their ground....but I was prepared to be galloping off full tilt if need be.

You can't count on every dog owner having their unpredictable or dangerous dogs leashed, though. It's yet another risk of riding in populated areas, or down roads.

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post #15 of 41 Old 03-01-2014, 10:24 AM
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I'm curious why folks would want to ride with the traffic. It seems to me it is easier for both horse & rider if they can watch what is coming near them. It also makes it harder for a car close to you to deliberately startle the horse, unless they cross the lane like the one guy did to me. I'd rather see someone hauling a trailer full of pipe and pick a spot well off the road for it to pass than have it come up from behind me.

Could it be quantity of traffic? Around where I live, we have occasional cars, but they are moving at 50-60 mph on roads with variable shoulders. If I'm going to have to go on pavement, then I want to KNOW nothing is near by. My thoughts may be based on semi-rural Arizona.

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post #16 of 41 Old 03-01-2014, 12:51 PM
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Originally Posted by bsms View Post
I'm curious why folks would want to ride with the traffic. It seems to me it is easier for both horse & rider if they can watch what is coming near them. It also makes it harder for a car close to you to deliberately startle the horse, unless they cross the lane like the one guy did to me. I'd rather see someone hauling a trailer full of pipe and pick a spot well off the road for it to pass than have it come up from behind me.

Could it be quantity of traffic? Around where I live, we have occasional cars, but they are moving at 50-60 mph on roads with variable shoulders. If I'm going to have to go on pavement, then I want to KNOW nothing is near by. My thoughts may be based on semi-rural Arizona.

We have no choice, the Highway Code in the UK requires us to ride with the traffic and cars pass close enough to touch the end of my schooling whip on occasions. Traffic is required to slow going past horses (pass wide and slow) but doesn't always.

Dogs and birds in the side (hedges) are probably far scarier than the traffic and it is always the worry that something like that will make a horse step in front of a car, sadly this just means you have to know your horse well and teach as far as possible not to spook (and if they do, to know lateral leg aids).
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post #17 of 41 Old 03-01-2014, 02:27 PM
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We get our horses used to vehicles and used to some light traffic. We don't have areas to ride with heavy traffic, but unless we want to trailer somewhere, they have to be used to some light back road traffic.

Overall, I think the exposure is good for the horses. Also, you just never know what you will run into if you take your horses to unfamiliar trails, horse camping, etc. One site we ended up staying at had you riding down the road a ways before reaching the main trail head. The path was about 3 feet from the road, but still could have been an issue for a horse that was sheltered from such things. Also on a group ride organized by a friend had us ending up going along the road to make it to the trails. Riding along the road isn't uncommon around here at all.

My biggest issue is like others have mentioned - dogs. And don't you DARE say anything to the dog owner that fluffy is anything less than perfect.

All I pay my psychiatrist is cost of feed and hay, and he'll listen to me any day!

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post #18 of 41 Old 03-01-2014, 03:48 PM
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My friend and I used to do it all the time in high school. We would try to not ride on the actual road, but on the shoulder or in the ditch instead. We'd be gone for a few hours and nothing bad ever happened, though there is always the potential. If I was in your position and my horse was used to traffic then I wouldn't think twice about it, provided the road wasn't crazy busy or with any dangerous turns.
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post #19 of 41 Old 03-01-2014, 05:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Clava View Post
We have no choice, the Highway Code in the UK requires us to ride with the traffic
Texas as well
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post #20 of 41 Old 03-01-2014, 05:56 PM
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I live in rural Michigan, and I do all my riding on the road- with the occasional haul to a show or trail.

It's all about exposing your horse to everything that might happen on the road, including vehicles swerving AT you, passing too close, large farm equipment, dogs, etc.

That said, my horse I rode for 5 years on the road suddenly decided to spook at a couple deer, and I was nearly unhorsed :( It's just a good idea to be vigilant and ready all the time, and wear a helmet.

If I'm riding at night, I put on flashers, and don't forget orange in hunting season!
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