AmericanTrails.org - Full Article
by Chelle Grald, Green Mountain Horse Association
Horses are the only means of transport into the wilderness that has a mind of its own.
July 02, 2018
The outside is good for the inside of everyone. Whether we get onto the trails with our feet, skis, wheels, or hooves, the most important thing is that we help each other to get there. Different trail users have varied goals, needs and impacts, so thought and planning are needed to accommodate everyone. In our quest to understand each other and work together effectively, we will have to learn new things and keep our minds open.
This article is for trail users who don’t use equines (horses, donkeys, mules) as their means of transport. My hope is that it will help you to respect and appreciate what is unique about the horse-human partnership as a means of transport into natural places. If you are an equestrian, my hope is to help you to articulate your reasons for being on the trail to others who may not understand or may be trying to restrict your access.
The Vehicle That Thinks
Horses are the only means of transport into the wilderness that has a mind of its own. Because they are large animals with finely-tuned instincts, they can become frightened enough to override their training and in that state become a danger to their rider, themselves and anyone else involved or nearby. This makes equestrians a ‘vulnerable user’ requiring understanding and consideration. Trail etiquette rules specify that other users yield to horses when they are encountered on the trail. This is for everyone’s safety. On the other hand, remember that horses can be trained to charge cannons and are very effective in policing riots. With thoughtful training, they can adapt to most anything. With consideration and education, there is no good reason why horses can’t share suitable trails with both bicycles and ATVs.
Silent and Environmentally Friendly
Horses don’t have loud motors and don’t consume fossil fuels. Owners of horses inherently help to make the landscape more beautiful by purchasing large tracts of land, keeping it open and providing a local market for hay and wood shavings that keeps land open and forests managed...
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