hey I’m not sure if this is a good blog for this (if not, just delete this) but after several bad experiences today I thought I’d share something that apparently a lot of people don’t know: if you’re going to a public park where horses are allowed on trails:
1) if you’re riding a bike and about to come upon some horses, please say something! Just “hello” or anything human-sounding you can manage — long story short, bikes freak horses out, but most of them find human voices reassuring and so it makes things safer for everyone if you can just signal that you’re human and not a scary bike monster.
2) if you’ve got a dog, have the dog on a leash /please/. A lot of parks have a rule about this but I’ve seen so many people casually breaking this rule it’s not even funny. I don’t care how good your dog is. Just today, I had several leashless dogs growl at my horse, aggressively run up to my horse, and even scurry up to her back legs and touch her.
Thankfully my horse is pretty desensitized to dogs, but not all are, and not having a leash on a dog creates a dangerous situation. If a horse feels threatened, a kick to the head would kill a dog real fast. I’d be so frustrated if my animal or their animals got hurt because of these owners’ negligence. Please, if you care about your dog, have a way to restrain it from unsafely approaching an unfamiliar horse. I try to keep my distance from dogs, but there’s not much I can do when they run right up to us.
realsocialskills said:
Thank you, anon. I don’t know very much about horses or how to act around horses, so it’s good to hear advice.
Do any of y’all know other things about how to act around horses in public places?

westformiles said:

A lot of ‘horse etiquette’ comes down to remembering that horses are prey animals whose instinctive response to a perceived threat is either fight or flight. Approaching a horse from behind- the only place they can’t see you coming- without signalling your presence is predator behaviour, especially in cyclists. (Bikes are very fast and quiet, so a horse assumes that the innocent cyclist who’s overtaking them is actually moving in for the kill.) 

A few miscellaneous pointers:

1) Dear motorists: you have no way of knowing how comfortable any given horse will be with your vehicle. When encountering riders, slow down and give them room. Do not honk at them. 

2) Many riders will put a warning ribbon in their horse’s tail when riding out in company. It’s mostly meant for other riders, but anyone who’s going to be encountering horses in public should know that a red ribbon signals a known kicker and green means that the horse is young and/or inexperienced and likely to be unpredictable as a result.  

3) If you have to walk from one side of a horse to the other through their blind spot, either stay well out of kicking range or so close that you’re in physical contact with them.