Really bad spook out hacking!!

joellie

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Apr 24, 2011
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As the title says we had an awful bad spook out hacking yesterday. Yesterday was a beautiful sunny morning, I planned on going on a lovely, relaxing sunday hack.

We set off and Marley was a bit hesitant going down the road(think looking back now he must have sensed something was going on?) and I did have to use my whip on his bum to get him going, he hasn't been like that in a long time so he was a bit cross that I had made him go on. We got to the end of the road and turned left which goes up a hill with a bend at the top. A group of cyclists started to come down the hill at high speed, Marley is fine with bikes, but these were going very fast and then coming down among them was Marleys biggest fear, a lie back bike thingy (don't know the correct name) I held my left rein tight so as he couldn't spin out into the road but he managed to spin left against the fence and he took off down the road spun right back up the road towards home. I got him pulled into a driveway and calmed down, I thought I couldn't just take him back up towards home as I didn't want him to think he could spin towards home and get to go home. So me thinking it was just a group of cyclists that didn't know to slow down passing a horse headed back up the road to continue our hack. Some more cyclists passed and I had to talk Marley into going on which he did then no bother, we were just going up the hill again when the same thing happened. At this point I realised that something was going on and it wasn't just your normal cycling groups out for a sunday cycle. My mind was quickly thinking should i push on but if I do I might just get him past the lieback bike thing for me to get to the top of the hill and a lot more may be approaching which I think would just make Marley worse.

So I think I made the wrong decision, I turned him around to get off the road and back on to the side road before the bike thing got to us, as soon as I turned him he took off again downhill. I again got him into the driveway and when we were getting our breath back a couple of normal cyclists came along kind off looking at me probably wondering what was going on, I said what happened and they told me a race was on!!! We headed home but I did make him go up and down past the gate into the yard a few time before turning in, then I also rode him for 20 mins in the field as I didn't want him to think he would just go home and get out of work.

I am so cross firstly with myself as I don't think I handled it the best but then I don't know what I could have done differently??? Secondly I am cross with the organisers of the Duathlon race as we had no notification at all that it was on. If I had known it was on I would not have took Marley out in the first place. I am getting in touch with the organisers as It was very dangerous and could have ended so much more worse, as the roads weren't closed so when Marley took off not only was it dangerous to myself & Marley but also to the cyclists and car drivers...I do have a vid off it but I don't know if I am brave enough to let you all see as it really isn't nice at all....Sorry for such a long post.

p.s edited to say Admins please keep this in cafe area as I don't want it public..
 
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squidsin

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I totally feel your pain. We live in the Chilterns which is major cycling country, and there are always road races at weekends using lanes that riders use, with no advance notification. Plus loads of the cyclists are so intent on winning that they show no courtesy for horses. Roxy couldn't care less about bikes but Angel isn't a huge fan - her one major spook on the XC course yesterday was at a little girl cycling across on a pink child's bike!

Don't beat yourself up though, how were you supposed to know and what else could you have done? If your horse doesn't like bikes, then millions of them shooting past probably isn't the gentle de-sensitising approach any of us would take!

ETA - tbh the way these races are organised with little or no courtesy for riders or other road users, including cars, really pees me off. I don't think cyclists should be allowed to race on the roads actually - horses aren't allowed to, or cars, so why are they?
 

Ale

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That sounds really awful and I am sorry you had to deal with it especially on the roads. All sounds very scary and not sure how I would of coped, think the positive to take away is that you both made it home safely!
 

joellie

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If your horse doesn't like bikes, then millions of them shooting past probably isn't the gentle de-sensitising approach any of us would take!
but that's the thing @squidsin he is brilliant with bikes, he will even go out along with bikes, its the low down ones that the riders are lying down in and they have a flag on them that he doesn't like and its not the flag I think its just seeing somebody lying down and flying down the road towards him that makes him think " lwtf is that" ..excuse my language.. but yes I agree I think it is far too dangerous to be racing on the roads..they should close the roads for a few hours while the race is on as it would be far safer for everyone...they didn't even have a steward at the bottom of my road who could have informed oncoming traffic etc it was on..
@Ale thank you, yes I am so glad I managed to stay on and Marley or myself weren't hurt. Marley is usually so good out hacking, that it saddens me to think I pushed him on, I hope he still feels safe going out with me as it did take a long time to get him comfortable going out on our own.
images
this is the type he is terrified of.
 

squidsin

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but that's the thing @squidsin he is brilliant with bikes, he will even go out along with bikes, its the low down ones that the riders are lying down in and they have a flag on them that he doesn't like and its not the flag I think its just seeing somebody lying down and flying down the road towards him that makes him think " lwtf is that" ..excuse my language.. but yes I agree I think it is far too dangerous to be racing on the roads..they should close the roads for a few hours while the race is on as it would be far safer for everyone...they didn't even have a steward at the bottom of my road who could have informed oncoming traffic etc it was on..
@Ale thank you, yes I am so glad I managed to stay on and Marley or myself weren't hurt. Marley is usually so good out hacking, that it saddens me to think I pushed him on, I hope he still feels safe going out with me as it did take a long time to get him comfortable going out on our own.
images
this is the type he is terrified of.

Those things! I think a lot of horses would freak at them as they look so weird! Roxy hates flags so even she'd spook at that. She isn't bothered by bikes most of the time, but once we were hacking down a really narrow lane and some bikes (racing) tried to overtake without any kind of warning - I didn't even realise they were there - and she spooked AT them and knocked one of them off into the hedge. Needless to say, I got yelled at - but screw him, what did he think he was playing at? These idiots don't seem to realise that horses are reactive and they're not just endangering the horse and rider by creeping silently up on them and zooming past - playing into an prey animal's instinct about predators - but they're endangering themselves.

Absolutely agree that the roads should be closed. It's dangerous. I've seen a few bike riders come off or be knocked off by cars now, too. They race round corners on tight bends on country roads where you're a fool for driving more than 20mph with no thought to what might be round the bend.
 
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Skib

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It sounds as if you did very well - and took all the right decisions based on what you knew at the time.
We ride in an area with roads used for training by cycling athletes both able and disabled, and do have the lying down ones for the horses to get used to. Plus the top wheelchair riders (Olympics) have escorts and coaches with them. We can usually keep the horses at a safe distance (i.e. off the roadway) but the only time we had an almost spook situation the top rider stopped before he got up to our horses and spoke to me really nicely. If there is a race, there are warnings, but it is the rest of the time when cyclists are a pain - not with horses but with cars. I drive to and from the area and the speed limit applies to cyclists (and all traffic) but the cyclists ignore this and even my cousin's families rejected the idea that they should not exceed 20 m.p.h.. They regard it as a race track on which to cycle to work and to keep fit riding circuits with hills. I sometimes wish a cyclist would be killed just to teach them a lesson. They should certainly have to use number plates and we should have some way of photographing them being pushy and reckless (which we cant do while driving)
 
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Trewsers

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Sorry to hear about your experience. I dislike those bikes for no other reason than they look like attention seekers and I can't say as they look very safe, plus where we used to live I saw a chap on one with a child which looked downright dangerous. Anyway, I think you did your best, I am not sure I'd have been brave enough to ride even in the field after that! My legs would have been jelly!
I think also it's very bad on the organisers part to not have properly closed roads and made big signs and given folk notice.
 
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Trewsers

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So are those bikes purely ridden by disabled people??? I was under the impression able bodied people used them too? I am sure the chap at our old town was not disabled. He used to come whizzing around a roundabout near my old office with total disregard for traffic.
 
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squidsin

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It sounds as if you did very well - and took all the right decisions based on what you knew at the time.
We ride in an area with roads used for training by cycling athletes both able and disabled, and do have the lying down ones for the horses to get used to. Plus the top wheelchair riders (Olympics) have escorts and coaches with them. We can usually keep the horses at a safe distance (i.e. off the roadway) but the only time we had an almost spook situation the top rider stopped before he got up to our horses and spoke to me really nicely. If there is a race, there are warnings, but it is the rest of the time when cyclists are a pain - not with horses but with cars. I drive to and from the area and the speed limit applies to cyclists (and all traffic) but the cyclists ignore this and even my cousin's families rejected the idea that they should not exceed 20 m.p.h.. They regard it as a race track on which to cycle to work and to keep fit riding circuits with hills. I sometimes wish a cyclist would be killed just to teach them a lesson. They should certainly have to use number plates and we should have some way of photographing them being pushy and reckless (which we cant do while driving)

They DO get killed quite regularly - we had a serious accident during a road race on the A40 near us last year, not sure if the cyclist was killed but they had the air ambulance out - but it doesn't seem to change anything. It's frustrating. They make driving more dangerous too as they drive in pelotons that go right across to the other side of the road and swing out with little or no regard for traffic on either side, plus drivers then have to either overtake or crawl along a 60mph stretch at 30mph which inevitably leads to more dangerous driving from them, too.
 
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squidsin

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So are those bikes purely ridden by disabled people??? I was under the impression able bodied people used them too? I am sure the chap at our old town was not disabled. He used to come whizzing around a roundabout near my old office with total disregard for traffic.
There are two types - the hand cycles that look like that, and ones with pedals that able-bodied people use.
 
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orbvalley

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I think you reacted very well indeed to an unpredictable situation. These things happen and the only thing we can learn is how to ope with it in the best and safest way possible which is what you did - so congratulate yourself:cool:
My horse has a meltdown every time we have to pass by a herd of Llamas that live in the area. You never know where they might be turned out and no amount of desensitizing is ever going to make her feel like they're safe creatures to be around. If Marleys meltdown moments are caused by lay down bikes then try to look on the bright side - at least there's not that many of them compared to normal bikes:)
 
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orbvalley

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I sometimes wish a cyclist would be killed just to teach them a lesson.

:eek:
My brother in law was knocked off his bike in Spain by a drunk 70 odd year old driver around midday. He was in the cycling lane, the car veered off the road and threw him up in the air and through the windscreen. Air-ambulance, coma, life support machine, PTSD and depression followed, the latter 2 of which he's never got over.
 

squidsin

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:eek:
My brother in law was knocked off his bike in Spain by a drunk 70 odd year old driver around midday. He was in the cycling lane, the car veered off the road and threw him up in the air and through the windscreen. Air-ambulance, coma, life support machine, PTSD and depression followed, the latter 2 of which he's never got over.
That is horrifying! I was knocked off my bike by a van driver doing an illegal left turn in London. Was lucky to escape with mild concussion. There were two deaths in London just last week I think. I'd put money on it being a more dangerous activity in terms of deaths than horse-riding - cyclists use main roads far more, and are very vulnerable. But the roads get more and more crowded and dangerous and deaths and injuries seem to be viewed as collateral damage.
 

joellie

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Thank you everyone you have all been so supportive. I am sorry to hear about your brother @orbvalley that must have been an awful traumatic experience.
You have all been so nice that I am going to show the video it is edited to just show the clips so you don't see the full extent of all the cyclists...i still think I could have reacted better but anyway here it is warts and all :oops:

 
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squidsin

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Oh god, my palms were sweating just watching that! Poor Marley and poor you - thank goodness there was no traffic coming the other way either time he spooked. EEEK.

You couldn't have done anything differently btw.
 

Ale

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@orbvalley that must have been an awful traumatic experience.
You have all been so nice that I am going to show the video it is edited to just show the clips so you don't see the full extent of all the cyclists...i still think I could have reacted better but anyway here it is warts and all :oops:

[/QUOTE]

Poor boy, I found that really upsetting to watch :( not because you did anything wrong but he really was scared and lucky to miss all the cars.

Can you do some desensitizing with bikes and especially recumbent ones? Perhaps contact a local bike club (most of us are friendly despite above negatives comments) and see if you could get a member out with a bike. Failing that arrange for a friend to cycle round corners towards you on hacks and produce a carrot. Soon he will be looking out for bikes in a good sense!

It will be hard to get him used to recumbent bikes but I think in future I would hop off quick and call out to the cyclist that your horse is afraid of recumbent bikes.
 

orbvalley

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Just watched the vid - Don't know what I admire most - his ability to get it back together again to walk on or you not using bigger swear words! Mine brings out the most foulest language in me when she does that:oops:!
Well handled, you couldn't have done any better:cool:
 
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orbvalley

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Poor boy, I found that really upsetting to watch :( not because you did anything wrong but he really was scared and lucky to miss all the cars.

Can you do some desensitizing with bikes and especially recumbent ones? Perhaps contact a local bike club (most of us are friendly despite above negatives comments) and see if you could get a member out with a bike. Failing that arrange for a friend to cycle round corners towards you on hacks and produce a carrot. Soon he will be looking out for bikes in a good sense!

It will be hard to get him used to recumbent bikes but I think in future I would hop off quick and call out to the cyclist that your horse is afraid of recumbent bikes.

Great advice from @Ale on both points of desensitizing and hop off to support him from the ground
 

squidsin

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I wouldn't hop off personally - much harder to control a panicking horse from the ground. However, safer for the rider so you have to weigh it up in the moment.
 
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