Horse and cart amok shock

Beat this one.

Yesterday I'm pootling towards Mount South Cave in a freezing gale - so not feeling on top of the world. I come up behind a couple of ponies and traps. They're trotting along about 10 mph or so, and discretion being the better part of valour, I decide to follow them up the hill rather than overtake and have panting steeds up my bum all the way.

All's going well, I leave about 10 yards or so, and on the lower slopes maintaining that distance is not a problem. HOWEVER, then the traffic gets involved. :biggrin:

As we all know, it is the first rule of the road that if there is space in front of a cyclist it's imperative that any self respecting driver pull into it. Now, once they're in between me and the horses schizophrenia hits.

The poor dears can see me right behind them... so (rule 2) they hit the accelerator; but, five yards later... there's a nice horsey! So they slow... but, oh my g*d, the cyclist is still there!

Each of four cars went through the same dodgem manoever before deciding, :laugh: 'stuff road safety' and zooming round said animals.

SO, about halfway up the hill (just at the steepest part) the rearmost horse decides its had enough - either that, or the fresh shoots on the far bank looked too tempting - so it does a sharp right and clambers onto a steep bank, pulling trap and passengers on as well. :laugh:

The two blokes in it jumped for safety and the trap turned over... much swearing and waving of sticks etc. I decided that rather than watch the rest of the drama unfold, I'd get my Wiggins shoes on and start the breakaway early.

That's all very well in theory, but by the time I was up to the lead trap, it was being brought home to me again that Bradley Wiggins, I'm not. :laugh: I got by them, but it took me a good 5 minutes to start getting cross with those drivers! :angry:

They've got 'horses, good', 'cyclists, bad' pretty much down round here. But, 'horse-cyclist! horse-cyclist' clearly doesn't compute.
 
This is where a cam would come in handy.:biggrin:
 
I come up behind the occasional horse-and-cart, or pony-and-trap, when cycling, and believe me they've never given the slightest problem. The animals put to this work are generally of the sweetest, most placid temperament. It's the saddle horses, those being ridden, that sometimes give trouble, especially if young: often spooked by cyclists or other things. I have seen a horse throw its rider and bolt for no apparent reason.

So for your pony-and-trap to spook in this way sounds like it was exceptionally provoked. Or exceptionally badly driven, possibly....? But I'll put my money on aggressive car driving being the cause, as you describe.
 

downfader

extimus uero philosophus
Location
'ampsheeeer
Southampton has a big Gypsy community so they still work horses on public land, take out the cars etc. Really nice to see old traditions still being taught.

Have once or twice seen idiots react to them. Once a driver tailgaiting the car and hammering his horn then a close overtake. Loads of people gave him the coffee shaker hand sign as a result (though not the lads in the cart - they were focussed on keeping th animal calm):laugh:
 

Jezston

Über Member
Location
London
Why are horses such nervous beasts anyway? They're massive! I'd certainly be a lot more confident if I was that big :thumbsup:
 

downfader

extimus uero philosophus
Location
'ampsheeeer
Jezston said:
Why are horses such nervous beasts anyway? They're massive! I'd certainly be a lot more confident if I was that big ;)
Because they're very tasty. Tasty animals always get frightened. Sheep, lambs, cows, chickens.. all tasty to a lot of different beasties (like us)xx(
 

Arch

Married to Night Train
Location
Salford, UK
Jezston said:
Why are horses such nervous beasts anyway? They're massive! I'd certainly be a lot more confident if I was that big :biggrin:
Because only grass is below them in the food chain.

Prey animals have various methods of protection. Hard shells like tortoises, spines like hedgehogs, or speed. Horses have specialised in speed - long legs, minimal weight in the feet, nearly 360 degree vision, very sensitive to movements that might be a predator. Their whole instinct is to run first, ask questions later.
 

Beardie

Well-Known Member
I thought I'd be all right overtaking one particular horse, as it had just been overtaken by an artic, and hadn't reacted. For some reason, however, it didn't seem to like the look of my recumbent, and almost threw its rider despite my slow speed. They're rather unpredictable things.
 

downfader

extimus uero philosophus
Location
'ampsheeeer
Beardie said:
I thought I'd be all right overtaking one particular horse, as it had just been overtaken by an artic, and hadn't reacted. For some reason, however, it didn't seem to like the look of my recumbent, and almost threw its rider despite my slow speed. They're rather unpredictable things.
Predator effect I wonder? If you look at big cats and wolves they sometimes stalk the prey low down...
 

Arch

Married to Night Train
Location
Salford, UK
downfader said:
Predator effect I wonder? If you look at big cats and wolves they sometimes stalk the prey low down...
That's my theory. Low down, plus fast, plus silent. Classic predator profile.

Not liking recumbents is a well known trait. Also, they are probably more likely to be familiar with lorries and so on, than recumbents. Bearing in mind how many humans stop and gawp when they see one, it's not surprising a horse jumps a bit.

I often trot (sorry!) this fact out, but apparently a horse has the same sort of IQ as a 2 or 3 year old child. Smart enough to have a bit of freewill and choice over their actions, but not enough to stop them falling prey to 'irrational' fears. Analyse it, and there's often a rational reason for that 'irrationality'.

Out on my trike, I'm always ultra careful around horses, and if the rider and I have time, I'm happy to sit and let the horse have a good look at me. Talking helps too - they recognise that it's a person on that odd machine. That's good advice for uprights too - to a horse, a person on a bike isn't so easily equated with the people they see walking around.
 
Precisely: the point. Make every effort to persuade the horse that you are human. Horses like humans, they know that humans bring them food and shelter and care for them. Talking, even shouting, is best; eye contact also helps but remember horses don't 'see' in the same way we do (they can't see directly ahead of them for example).

Remember too that a horse which has spooked, which is out of control, is a dangerous animal, but not by its own choice.
 

TheDoctor

I've seen things you people wouldn't believe
Moderator
Location
Stevenage
That's why I always, always say hello to riders. Well, it's actually the horse I'm speaking to really, but the rider normally replies. Horses recognise human voices, and don't think we're likely to eat them.
The poor, deluded creatures... *fires up very large barbie*
 
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