Connie Berto was walking her horse down a wide fire lane in Marin County, Calif., when a mountain biker, traveling at high speed, missed her by inches.
It's not an
uncommon experience on the West's public trails. Pressed by other
trail users, horses and their riders are finding themselves less
welcome on some trails.
"Equestrians and hikers,
once they experience the droves of bicycles on (multiple-use
trails), quietly go elsewhere," says Berto, an equestrian
representative on the Marin County Open Space and Trails
Mountain bikers aren't the only
recreationists spooking horses and riders.
growth in off-road vehicles seems to be one of our biggest
threats," says Edd Blackley, a Montana representative of Back
Country Horsemen of America. "There's so many of them. Some
horsemen are opting not to go (into the backcountry) anymore."
But not all equestrians are trotting away. Some
are rearing up.
Back Country Horsemen, a
10,000-member group based in Graham, Wash., that advocates the
recreational use of horses on public lands, is collaborating with
public agencies, recreational groups and environmentalists to
ensure that trails are shared peaceably. One tool: brochures on
trail etiquette. Because the noise from an off-road vehicle can
spook a horse, Back Country Horsemen suggests that drivers stop and
turn off their engines until the horses pass.
can't exactly turn our horses off," says