Talk to the Horse

At first I thought she was getting a bit snarky with us, a little too insistent that we talk. Apparently the wave of my hand in greeting as she approached was not enough; what, was this the approach of some descendant of the late great Mr. Ed, who would amaze us with the wit and wisdom of her conversation? Would the horse she rode in on, or at least around the bend on, take offense without a verbal "good morning, how is the ride going? Nice day to be out, isn't it?" As interesting as it might be to hold a conversation with a horse, to hear it from the horses mouth as the saying goes, I really didn't think this one would care, one way or the other, whether we spoke a word as she drew nearer.

We were taking a breather at the top of the most recent high point in a series of hills, giving our lungs, which had fallen out three-quarters of the way up, a chance to catch up. The road, though dirt, was wide enough here, even more so after I motioned my companion on this ride to move over as the horses and their riders came closer. A precaution. The lead horse, a big bay, while not appearing skittish did seem wary, with big, staring eyes turned in our direction. The woman in the saddle wore the shirt of the volunteer Mounted Assistance Unit - used to mountain bikers, but you never know about the horse.

What I thought might have been a bit of that old equestrian vs. mountain biker animosity you occasionally read about but seldom see firsthand… wasn't.

Horses don't see well, she said - unrecognizable forms in the near distance, wearing bright colors could scare them. Talking as a horse approaches helps put them at ease, helps them realize the forms are human. As a, hopefully, good steward of the trails, I have long been familiar with rules and courtesies of riding around horses and pedestrians; I have often talked to mounted riders as they pass, maybe more it they briefly stop, but the trick of talking as they approach was a new one to me. Good thing to know.