Although hikers and bikers have the responsibility of yielding the right of way to horses, equestrians also must be responsible for managing their horse on the trail. Please see below for more tips and clarification on proper trail etiquette.
- Make sure your horse has the temperament and training for riding on congested trails.
- Advise other trail users of your horse’s temperament. For example, a horse with a tendency to kick should always wear a red ribbon in the tail. Assume that not everyone will know what the ribbon means, so be prepared to explain or take the necessary precautions to avoid trouble.
- Obey posted speed/gait limits. Avoid cantering or galloping on busy trails.
- Know your horse’s limitations.
- Leave gates as you find them. Obey gate closures and regulatory signs.
- Let other trail users know when it is safe to pass your horse.
- Announce your intention to pass others. Come to a walk and pass on the left.
- Always pick up after your horse. Keep the trailhead clear of manure and trash. Try to keep the trail clean of manure. Individual trails may require that you pick up manure.
- Stay on trails and avoid creating new trails. Cutting switchbacks and creating shortcuts damages plants and disturbs the soil and contributes to erosion.
- Watering your horse in creeks and rivers can be damaging to sensitive streambanks. Try to utilize hardened access points or areas that have been previously disturbed.
Tips for Hikers and Bikers
- When encountering a horse on the trail, step off the trail on the downhill side, talk to the rider and the animal (this lets the animal know you are a person). Keep talking in a calm voice as the animal passes.
- If you approach a horse from behind, it’s critical that you announce yourself loudly but calmly so you do not scare the animal. Let the rider know you’d like to pass at the next safe location.
- Do NOT ride up quickly on animal(s). It’s dangerous for you and the rider.
- Be sure your dog is on a leash and under control at all times. If your dog is uneasy around horses, be sure to take it as far from the horse as possible.
Tips for Dog Owners
Horses have the right of way in all circumstances. Move over for riders on the trail, but make sure you and your pup stay visible when approaching horses. As big as they are, horses are very skittish! Bring your dog in close, and talk to the riders as they pass by. If your dog is afraid of horses or unsure, consider giving them some treats as the horse passes by.