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?

As someone with a skittish horse:

Don’t run up behind them

Don’t ride your bike behind them

Basically approach very slowly from behind if you must pass them on a trail (or give them a wide birth from behind if you have the room)

Do get off your bike and walk it when passing horses, better yet:

Do get off your bike and allow horses to pass you, and give them a good distance before getting back on your bike and heading the opposite way.

Don’t give the horses treats unless their rider says it’s okay

If the horse seems at all hesitant to pass you, please stand still and allow their rider to handle the horse, pleeeeease stay still until the horse has passed and gotten a good distance away.

eubalaena said:

In fact just don’t touch the horse unless the rider says it is ok! Even if you’re an equestrian yourself! (if you are you should already know that but some people seem to ‘forget’) I know that some people think of horses as big, rideable pets and in some ways they are but seriously these are animals the size and weight of a small car that can cheerfully and without any malice accidentally bite your finger off or break the bones in your foot because they didn’t even know it was there, much less horses that actually ARE malicious and the damage they can do. Please be safe around the animals of others and remember, no matter what it is, always ask before approaching or touching an animal

wolffyluna said:

Horses are also a bit like working dogs when it comes to a lot of ettiquette. Don’t go up to them without the riders permission, and if they and the rider are doing something, don’t interrupt them. You’ll probably break their concentration, and if they’re doing something that makes the horse nervous, you could make them bolt by surprising them.

Also, if you are around horse, don’t be super quiet or super loud, and don’t stare at them. They associate these things with predators. Use an outside voice, and keep them in you peripheral vision. Definitely make some noise if you have to pass directly behind them, so they know where you are.