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  • When out on the trail, yield to horses

    May 12, 2022 | Read More News
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    Tucson Mountain Park and the Colossal Cave Mountain Park beckon many types of trail users. Trails can be narrow, and present challenges when people try to pass each other.
    Pedestrians and cyclists should always yield to equestrians on any County trail or path. On trails, mountain bikers must yield to all other trail users. 
    “We have many different kinds of trail users,” said Steve Anderson, Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation Planning Division Manager. “Generally, people respect each other, but sometimes they get confused about who has the right of way.”
    To preserve harmony among all trail users, Anderson offered a few tips:
    • Keep your party small and together, so you don’t block the trail
    • Travel quietly; consider the needs and feelings of others
    • Downhill traffic yields to uphill traffic
    • Always yield the right of way to stock, which includes horses, donkeys, goats, llamas and mules. 
    horses on trailSpeaking of mules, Bev Showalter, President of the County Line Riders of Catalina, recently rode her mule, Stevie, on the Sarasota Trail. 
    “I really appreciate the bell on that bike,” she said to one mountain biker. “It’s a great warning, especially when my mule can’t see the bike.”
    Southern Arizona Hiking Club’s James Terlep, out hiking with friends, agreed: “We like bike bells, too. It’s a friendly way to let us know you’re coming up from behind us.”
    When encountering horses on the trail, Jim DiDomenico from Southern Arizona Mountain Bike Association offered this tip: “Move off the trail, and stand between your bike and the trail while the horse passes by.” Horses know about people, but not necessarily about bikes.
    DiDomenico added: “Slowing down and greeting other trail users goes a long way in improving trail relations and safety for all.”
    From her saddle, Showalter added: “It also helps if you talk to the rider or the horse. Horses will know you’re a person,” and not some weird predator in big sunglasses and a bike helmet.
    Anderson emphasized the main tip for mountain bikers regarding safety around horses: “Stop your bike, announce your presence by speaking calmly, and move to the downhill side of the trail. Avoid sudden movements that might startle the stock.”  Mountain bikers should ride in control and be prepared to stop quickly.
    Anderson also had specific tips for equestrians:
    • Travel at a safe pace, and be especially careful when visibility is limited
    •  Remember that trail stock can be intimidating to other users, and act accordingly
    • Don’t tie trail stock directly to trees
    • Saddle horses yield to pack stock 
    To preserve the integrity of the trails, stock and mountain bikers should stay off wet trails. Heavy animals and mountain bike tires can damage trails in wet conditions.
    “We love that so many people enjoy Pima County trails,” said Anderson. “We see families hiking, long distance mountain bikers, equestrian clubs out for a ride, and sprinting trail runners. And while they’re enjoying fresh air or fitness or scenery, we hope they’re also looking out for and respecting all the other people out on the trail.”