Letter: Trail etiquette
To the editor,
I read with interest your Nov. 14 article on the bike trails in Shawnee Mission Park. I am writing this as an equestrian who enjoys the horse trails in hopes that we can work together.
My equestrian friends and I have met many bicycles on “horse only” trails in Shawnee Mission Park. I also know there have been inconsiderate equestrians who have wandered onto bike trails. Both cause accidents. Perhaps some trail etiquette for both groups might help.
It is necessary to understand that horses are prey animals. A sudden, unfamiliar stimulus will spark a flight-or-fight response. A startled horse can be dangerous for everyone, including the horse. Horses are surprisingly fragile and, like human athletes, are subject to expensive injuries or euthanasia. Even seasoned trail horses will revert to instinct if surprised.
• Do not ride on “horse only” trails. Shawnee Mission Park has five miles of mountain bike trails, 17 miles of bicycle trails and three miles of equestrian trails.
• Watch for horses and slow down when your line of vision is poor. The horse trails cross paved trails many times, and horses cannot move fast on concrete.
• Greet the rider. Horses may see you as a predator; your voice reassures them.
• Yield to horses; stop and get off your bike.
• When approaching from the rear, alert the horse and rider that you are coming.
• Do not ride on bike trails.
• Explain that you are aboard 1,000 pounds of unpredictable animal.
• Take responsibility for your horse’s education.
• Practice respect. If you offer respect, you are more likely to receive it.