As a former Century rider and owner of a 1972 Italvega I will jump into this group and offer a suggestion toward MOuntain Bikers. I currently do quite a bit of horseback riding in Lake, Mendocino and Sonoma counties. Quite often, as is the case in Annadel State Park in Santa Rosa, horses and Mountain bikes share the same roads and trails. I ask all of you Mountain Bike riders, when approaching a horse or group of horses, PLEASE attempt to slow down (without spinning the freewheel) This can be done by braking then pedaling slowly. Some horses will just freak out at the sound of a freewheel, and can bolt with the rider.
Usually if you slow down first, riders will GLADLY move their horses out of your way and give profuse thanks that you were so considerate. As a warning, if you approach a horse by surprise and brake right behind it, spinning the freewheel, you run the risk of being kicked. I believe that both horse and bike riders can safely share trails if both are considerate. However, for your own safty, it would seem to make sense to desensitize you horse to approching bikes and freewheel noise. It can certainly be done (it would seem no harder to do than training a horse to not bolt when a car approches, or when a gun is fired).
After all, if 99% of us are ‘nice’ riders, there is stall that 1%. And it only takes one good fall to injure yourself or your horse. It seems to me that if you are taking any animal into a place with something ‘strange’, it is the owners responsability to aclimate them to that strangeness.I think the “banning from the trails” remark was ill-considered, in that it could easily be taken seriously. Any difficulty with mountain bikes seems to lead to a movement for banning them, which (thankfully) was *not* suggested here. I read the comment as a complaint about people who would ban mountain bikes. I think you’re both on the same side. This has all the earmarks of an incipient “argument without disagreement,” something that frequently happens on the net. Back on subject, I always start up a line of chatter when I see a horse ahead of me. My assumption is that the horse will know as early as possible that a person is approaching, rather than being startled by an odd-looking, silent, and fast object at close quarters. I can easily understand a “predator” reaction to a silent bicyclist.