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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey everyone. Since a couple of years there are wolves living in my country. In the neigbouring country they attacked and killed a foal. They also tried to attack horses in the field but one of the horses fought them off and protected the herd... It got me and my friend thinking... One of the last times we were out with the horses we saw a big animal from afar, but it was just a big dog on the loose (of course...). Our horses are accustomed to dogs and tolerate them to a varying degree (from okay with them to stomp them if they annoy too much...) I am pretty sure they would react totally different to a wolf or wolf smell... I don't know what to expect or what to do if we would ever run into one. I don't even know if wolves would consider a horse with a rider on top of it as an interesting prey? Carrying guns is illegal in our country and so is carrying other weapons. Big dog breeds that can fight of wolves are not kept in our country but my friend and I were talking about the possibility of putting some caucasian shepherds with the livestock maybe...



Any thoughts and experiences?? :) I am just curious and I know for sure there are people out there accustomed to riding in areas populated by large predators.
 

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@Jolien or take a mule with you on your rides. Most have a dislike for dogs and are used for sheep and other animal protection. It has been a few years ago but there was a video or pictures online line that showed a mule attacking a mountain lion. Come to find out the mountain lion was already dead. But that mule was not the least bit hesitant to bite and stomp the carcass.

So find a mule to ride LOL.....
 

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We don't have wolves, but we have coy-wolves. Essentially, coyotes bred with wolves in our part of the world making a hybrid. They don't tend to attack horses, but they do get quite large (size of a German Shepard) and have attacked people on hiking trails.

I always ride with bells on my saddle. Most wild animals will avoid humans if they can hear them coming. So if you're not already riding with bells on your saddle, get yourself some bells.

You can also get bear spray in our part of the world - don't know if that's an option for you as an additional safety measure. It is essentially Mace, so you have to spray it on their face and it could blow into your horse's face so it's risky, but if you were ever under a direct attack, it would be another line of defense.
 

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I often ride in the bush and mountains where we have wolves, grizzlies, cougars and black bears. I have never had an issue encountering a predator. I have seen them from afar, but in almost every scenario, as long as they hear you coming, they will leave the area. You would never even know they were there.

So my advise is to make noise - bells on the horses is a great idea and is something we do. Keep up a steady stream of conversation with your riding partner so any animal can hear you coming.

It is usually the deer and grouse that we flush out of the bush that scares me the most - they wait until the last second to depart, spooking me and the horse.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
@Jolien or take a mule with you on your rides. Most have a dislike for dogs and are used for sheep and other animal protection. It has been a few years ago but there was a video or pictures online line that showed a mule attacking a mountain lion. Come to find out the mountain lion was already dead. But that mule was not the least bit hesitant to bite and stomp the carcass.

So find a mule to ride LOL.....

haha darn, I didn't know mules were like that... :D I might have to consider one :p
 

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I don't have any personal experience, so I'm just throwing this out there. But I believe most of the big predators are either nocturnal or crepuscular, so if you ride in the middle of the day you would be less likely to run into one.
 
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The risk posed by predators is wayyyyy over-rated, in my opinion, at least where I live. In Arizona we have black bears, mountain lions, wolves (rarely, but they occasionally pass through) coyotes, etc. I have chased black bears on horseback and they just run like any other animal. Momma bear with cubs I wouldn't want to mess with, but have never seen them on horseback. I have had coyotes follow me and that's kind of creepy, but coyotes are too small to attack a full grown horse.

Now if I lived in Alaska or someplace like that, I would be worried about bears and perhaps even wolves. But for the most part........wildlife is something I look forward to seeing. I would love to see a live mountain lion but haven't seen one yet (I saw a gorgeous dead one that was hit by a truck).

Where I live they sell bear bells for hikers. Because you don't want to accidentally walk up on a bear. They are basically a Christmas-style jingle bell with a little magnet so you can quiet the bell if you don't want it to jingle non-stop. I put bear bells on my horse for hunting season. Because I would like to warn hunters that my horse is not an elk. I know if they are too far away (like during rifle season) they may not hear my bell, but at the very least, it should be good for archery season and every little bit helps. I also dress in blaze-orange.

So, MY biggest fear in the woods is getting shot by hunters. Wildlife has never bothered me or my horses. Well, sometimes they spook at rabbits and elk and such, but that's not the same as having problems with predators. :cool:

PS. I HAVE had a lot of problems with dogs. Unlike wildlife, they run towards you instead of away from you! Loose dogs are a big pet peeve of mine! It has really soured my whole perspective of dogs and dog owners. I actually re-homed the horse I raised from a baby because I just couldn't take the spooks anymore and we always had to ride past this one house that had about 7 dogs. They were kept fenced for the most part, but sometimes loose. You never knew when they were going to come barreling out from the backyard. It made me and that particular horse a nervous wreck. My current horse also gets nervous going past the dogs but at least she doesn't spin out from underneath me. One time, one of the biggest trouble-making dogs of the bunch was loose and came after us and I decided to charge the dog (because what else can you do) and I think that gave us both confidence because now we know we can charge the dog and it will run away. But dogs...........more worrisome than black bears, mountain lions or wolves combined!
 

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bear spray is also illegal as is pepper spray... You can't do much in my country weapon wise... :p
Can you get wasp spray? That’s a reasonable substitute for at least startling them and hopefully running them off. If you were going to use it from horse back, you need to practise both for accuracy and desensitizing the horses.

I came across a pack of coyotes out walking in the bush one time. We both surprised each other, I think. I excused myself politely and left unscathed.
 

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Wolves are very secretive animals and will stay far away from people. Even in zoos, if they have a wooded habitat, you'll just about never see them, unless they were hand-raised by keepers (more like a dog). They hunt from the ground, which is why it would be easy for a horse (or mule LOL) to kick them in the face! The thing I'd be more worried about is cougars as they attack from above and cats are far more likely to attack then wolves ever are. Cats are crazy. I've worked with big cats and cougars hands-on. A wolf won't bother you.
 

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Wolves are very secretive animals and will stay far away from people.
Unfortunately Europe is densely populated and the wolves are losing their shyness around people. Their behavior is changing and they start to seek more populated areas. For the reason that food sources are more easily available there and honestly, there isn't much wilderness available (depending on where in Europe they are located).

However, I don't think I would worry about riding and getting attacked.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
@Animalia I know, right... Once an escaped big deer species was on my driveway (it was big, like a D pony size) and my cat was creeping up on it and prepping to attack it... My god... :p that cat was a coureagous little critter. She just took squirrels, moles and everything that she could drag or carry around...
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Unfortunately Europe is densely populated and the wolves are losing their shyness around people. Their behavior is changing and they start to seek more populated areas. For the reason that food sources are more easily available there and honestly, there isn't much wilderness available (depending on where in Europe they are located).

However, I don't think I would worry about riding and getting attacked.

right, they killed off a lot of sheep, cows, calves and foals here and in the proximity. They also attack dogs that are left unattended or on the loose. They are seen in broad daylight in the village or in the proximity of the populated areas... Often those wolves get hit by a car or get shot by farmers (which is absolutely illegal here, they are a protected species)
 

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@Animalia I know, right... Once an escaped big deer species was on my driveway (it was big, like a D pony size) and my cat was creeping up on it and prepping to attack it... My god... :p that cat was a coureagous little critter. She just took squirrels, moles and everything that she could drag or carry around...

Yea, cats are extremely predatory. I live with four of them--housecats. I don't work with big cats anymore. But did have a bobcat living in my house for awhile, and helped raise many tigers and lions. But cougars--they are CATS. The cougars I worked with were much more likely to pounce or attack than the tigers.



It's a shame that wolves in Europe are being forced to intermingle with people and have the inevitable conflicts. I still don't think they would attack people or people on horses though--at least unprovoked. Of course, this is how wolves first turned into dogs 50,000 years ago or more. :)
 

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When R and I started prepping for our Yellowstone ride last year, I did some looking into wolf encounters. In our area at least, there has never been a documented attack of wolves on horses being ridden. Horses in a field, yes. Horses with humans on them, no. Wolves in the Yellowstone area, and in the Beartooth mountains where I live, will avoid humans if possible. If you're making noise while riding, they will stay away. I've never even seen any ... but then our wolves are used to being shot at by farmers so they give humans a wide berth. Around here you see a lot of bumper stickers with the slogan "Smoke a pack a day" and they're not talking about cigarettes.

Bears are usually the same way, unless you surprise a sow with cubs. Then you'd better hope you're packing at least a .45 and are a good shot, because with our wind bear spray isn't usually an option. Black bears are cowards and a good shout will usually get them running away. If not, I've never seen a black bear stand its ground if you chase it on a horse. Grizzlies are another matter entirely and I would never chase one of them on a horse … but again, if you're making noise so they can hear you, you'll likely never see either. The black bear we saw in camp ran away as soon as I started talking. The one we saw on our trail ride definitely knew we were there and kept looking over at the horses, but was obviously unconcerned and we made sure to keep our distance so we didn't frighten it. He moseyed along parallel to us for a good three miles before running across the bridge and after that we didn't see him … he did look for a long time on the bridge though, to make sure no one was coming before he darted across lol.

Now, mountain lions are a whole different ballgame. I would not trust one of those as far as you can throw 'em. I've been actively stalked, twice, on horseback by a mountain lion. They are usually ambush predators and come at you from above much of the time, and unfortunately you usually won't see them until it's too late. Both of the times I noticed we were being stalked I just happened to be looking over my shoulder at a bird or a rock and saw movement in the distance. Both times, I was in a group or with another rider, and both times we banded together and turned to face it - ALWAYS turn to face the animal, whether it is a dog or a wolf or whatever. You'll always have a better chance of scaring it away or keeping your horse from spooking if you can turn and face it or, even better, chase it a bit (unless it's a grizzly lol) - and when the cat noticed that we'd seen it, it turned away. Once the element of surprise is lost, the cat knows it has a very slim chance of taking down prey and will usually leave to find an easier meal. Again, IF you notice it before I tries to jump on you and eat your face.

A good rule of thumb is always to fight back. If something is following or stalking you, turn around and chase it. This works very well for dogs, coyotes and smaller bears. Even a cat, I think, would hesitate to attack if you were actively following it, especially if you are making noise and making yourself seem big. The only animal I really would never chase is a grizzly. I have heard that if you're going after wolves, go for the alpha, but I've never actually done this as I've never seen a wolf. If for some reason you are unhorsed and the animal starts to snack on you, fight back. Old wisdom was to 'play dead' in bear attacks but forest rangers and survivalists nowadays say to fight back with any weapon you have to hand - guns, knives, rocks, sharp sticks, whatever. I carry a .10 and bear spray ON ME, not on the horse or in a saddle bag, on trail rides in the mountains, and I've always got a good stout military-type knife in the small of my back and I know how to use it. I might still get mangled, but even a grizzly will bleed out if you can sever an artery. I'm sure you probably don't have very large predators like that in Europe (or maybe you do? I don't know) so feel free to only take what information you need lol

Bottom line is, it's HIGHLY unlikely you will ever be attacked or need any of these things, even hiking by yourself in grizzly country, if you are making noise and staying alert. The tools I mentioned above are worst-case scenario things, when you're riding with very VERY large predators. Make noise, ride in a group, play music, talk, bring mules, etc. All are good ideas.

-- Kai
 

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Riding our trails we have seen wolves several occasions. Was late evening time they were crossing, the trail we were on. There were 3 wolves they paused looked at us then went on there way. Our horses are totally unfazed by wolves or coyotes, it's just another dog in there minds.


Run into bears younger ones up a tree horses spooked leaping sideways. We had no clue the bears were there until the big spook. Bears were coming down the tree ,and the sound of claws scraping on the tree, was scaring our horses.

We managed to get past the bears with no issues other then the spook.

For most part we don't usually see any thing wolf wise, bears or coyotes. See signs of them but not actually the animals. Trail has all kinds of bear tracks this year. Haven't seen the bears though.

All kinds of wolf signs tracks in the mud near puddles. No sightings of the wolves though. There is a bob cat we see once in a great while. Haven't seen it for over a year now.

Only have black bears for most part they won't bother you. Unless you get between a momma and her cubs.

Wolves are pretty elusive for the most part in all the years we've ridden the trails. We seen them twice on different occasions. Coyotes we see more often but not a lot.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
@Kaifyre There are bears in Europe but not in my country. Here we have wild hogs pulling cyclists of their bikes, lol. True story. But no joking, getting attacked by a hog ain't no fun because they rip your flesh with their teeth. Mostly they are scared of people, they only attack when with piglets.

Carrying a gun is illegal and having one is very difficult. Due to that fact I cannot shoot a gun nor am I a good shot. One of the few times I fired a gun (in someone's backyard because the boys told me girls can't shoot so I took the challenge) I gave myself a black eye. (but I did hit the target, haha) :p I guess that tells all... I can shoot bow and arrow but it takes me some time to aim let alone I would be riding with a bow and arrows on horseback, haha. (which would also be illegal here).
 

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I've never felt the need to arm myself riding, even riding alone. I know people that do, but I've personally never felt like I've needed a weapon, at least not a real weapon, like a gun. The closes I've come is wishing I had something to discourage charging dogs.

Living in Arizona I'm sure I could carry a gun if I wanted to, because a lot of people do. I don't even think you need a permit anymore? I don't know, I've never looked into it, but gun laws are pretty lax here. I've just honestly never felt threatened by wildlife.

Trail riding concerns for me are: hunters, dogs, motorized vehicles. Maybe a random spook (usually caused by one of the aforementioned). Once I ride through my neighborhood and get into the woods I can breath a sigh of relief. Except hunting season, I try to be loud and bright in the woods during hunting season.
 

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In my part of the USA I see wolves. Nearby we have our traditional timber wolves. They are rather shy in my experience.

The Canadian Greys that were introduced are less shy.

I won't take work a couple ranges West of my place. Other hands have been followed and domestic animals harmed.
 

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@trailhorserider Yeah growing up in Nevada we never had big predators except for mountain lions, and those are easy enough to deal with most of the time. Funny enough, both times I've been stalked on horseback have been here in Montana. Not sure if these are a different breed and more aggressive or hungrier or what, but the mountain lions in Nevada never gave us problems. I rode past one in a canyon once, he was laying up on the rim and Mirage and I were riding down below. I kept my eye on him but he just laid there, never got up or bothered us at all. I never felt the need for any sort of protection whatsoever until I started riding out in the mountains here. One season into Montana trail riding and I was starting to panic slightly at the thought of emptying a can of bear spray at a charging grizzly and have it just keep on coming, or have a bear charge you while it's super windy like it is out here all the time and getting yourself instead of the bear. Also, there have been studies done that show the first time a bear is sprayed, it's very efficient - something like 93%. The second time a bear is sprayed, the efficiency drops to the mid 60%. After that, there is a steady decline in the efficacy until the spray no longer stops the bear. If a bear is charging at me, has it been sprayed before? … Because if it has, I'm probably screwed without a gun.

Kudos to folks who don't feel the need for protection … I wish I could go back to that feeling. And maybe it's just this area, I don't know … if I trailered Dreams down to Nevada to go trail riding, I doubt I'd bring either bear spray or a gun. I, too, feel that sort of protection would just be a waste of time there. But here? Oh yeah. I'm packing fo sho. And of course, I will probably go my entire life without having the sort of grizzly encounter where I need a gun or spray. But I certainly don't want my last thought to be "Should have brought my .10 …" either lol
@Jolien Yikes, hogs are nasty! We've got a big problem with them down south. My dad used to hunt them when he lived in Texas and he said if they're cornered, or they think their piglets are in danger, they will absolutely rip you open. I think I'd almost rather ride with grizzlies lol …

-- Kai
 
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