As the largest, slowest-to-maneuver, and least-predictable creatures on the trail, horses get the right of way from both hikers and mountain bikers. If you’re sharing the trail with equestrians, give them as much space as possible, try not to make abrupt movements as they pass, and talk calmly when approaching to avoid startling the animal.
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What you should do when you encounter a horse:

  • Stop or slow down and move to the side of the trail, remaining within sight of the horse.
  • If you are riding an off-road vehicle, shut off your motor as soon as possible and remove your helmet. The horse will be more likely to recognize you as a human and less of a threat.
  • Ask the rider what you should do! Horses have individual personalities and only the horse’s owner/rider knows what’s best. Trust their judgement.
  • Take extra care if approaching the horse from behind. Communication is critical in this situation, so gently announce yourself well in advance to let the horse and rider know that you are approaching from behind. Ask them if it is OK to pass and for the best way to do so.

What you should NOT do when you encounter a horse:

  • Don’t stand silently or hide behind something. The horse may mistake you for a predator, resulting in a reaction that could be dangerous for you and the rider.
  • Don’t speed past the horse or do anything else that would startle the horse.

What equestrians can do to prepare their horse for an encounter on the trail:

  •  Be sure you can control your horse before riding on shared-use trails.
  •  Cooperate with off-road vehicle and bicycle riders to expose your horse to vehicles in a safe manner.
  • Be alert and aware of others on the trail and be prepared to let them know what needs to be done to keep you, the horse, and other trail users safe when you meet on the trail.
  • Have less experienced horses and riders follow more experienced horses and riders.

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