Friday, November 17, 2017

Bikes and horses: changing attitudes

An exercise to sensitize bikers to horses and horses to bikes; photo from Black Hills Trails - Full Article

By Kerry Greear

Six years ago, my friend Lori Johnson and I were riding our horses on public land near my home on a perfect Saturday in June. After saddling our horses, we led them toward a gate and experienced our first interaction of the day: a mountain biker who was getting ready to go on a ride with his children.

The biker was rather abrasive and complained about equestrians damaging trails when they are wet, expecting bikers to stop and get off the trail, and generally causing aggravation. Lori and I were nice to them, our horses were well behaved, and I left with a comment about all of us getting along and getting to know each other better.

Our second and third interactions with bikers on “our trails” were equally negative. The following weekend I talked with my son, who is a mountain biker, about the possibility of changing attitudes and learning more about each other. And I hatched a plan.

The following month a mountain bike race was scheduled near Sturgis, SD, near my home. With a copy of the ride map, my horse Hawk and I were ready at mile 20 to get behind the last rider and “sweep.” I picked up GU containers, lost water bottles, and a few parts lying along the trail.

Ten miles later, I found an injured woman in an area with no cell phone service. After making sure she was okay, I helped her mount Hawk and pushed and rode her bike down the trail until she could call her family. I took her to a place they could pick her up along with her bike. I continued on and at the finish line received a substantial standing ovation... and many thanks for the trash and parts I’d picked up along the trail.

After that, I noticed a slight thawing of attitudes when I met mountain bikers out on the trail....

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