Lycra-clad Monsters 

Right, I`m going to have a rant.

Whether cyclists choose to believe it or not, they are actually scary to horses. Yes, they are not large, rattling lorries, or buses with air brakes; but cyclists tend to be brightly clothed, whizz up silently behind horses and make them jump. As well as the sudden appearance of a cyclist or ten, horses are often mystified by the way people roll along with wriggling feet – not at all like our normal gait – and bikes make a clicking noise when free wheeling, as well as the flashing of the reflectors and the squeak of brakes, which can unsettle a horse.

So what has triggered my rant, I hear you speak.

Well Llani and I went for a hack today, in between light rain showers. After being hailed (with hailstones the size of golf balls) on halfway down the road we turned the first corner of the wiggly lane and were happily walking up the hill when a slushing noise came from behind. Llani turned to look behind, and we saw a lycra wearing cyclist, pedalling along. Now, Llani is not too keen on bikes (he was fine until a dozen sprinted past him, and now he keeps a wary eye on them) but he seems happier with cyclists if them talk as they pass him. It`s almost as though he begins to understand that they are human.

This cyclist was slowing down, but as he drew near I asked, “Could you please talk as you go past so that he understands you`re a person?” Unfortunately, I only got as far as “go past” when he interrupted me with “What do you expect me to do? I was only cycling along the lane. I didn`t even see you until I came round the corner … I have as much right to be on the road as you …”

He cycled past, gesticulating wildly, wobbling as he turned to rant at me. Well. I wasn`t having a go at him, in fact he was passing in a very sensible manner, I just wanted a little assistance in making the experience positive for my horse. If he`d have listened to me in the first place, and not become defensive he should have understood. As it was, his wobbling and shouting had actually helped Llani understand that the lycra-clad monster was just a human being using a very strange mode of transport.

Whilst cyclists have as much right to be on the road as us horse riders, they really should remember to slow down when approaching horses. If they are in a large group then it can be very intimidating so it can be a good idea to split into smaller groups. If approaching from behind the bell is very useful, as it alerts us riders to something behind us. In a similar way to when cycling along the canal it is good practice to alert pedestrians to you so they don`t fall in the canal in fright as you whizz past them (We recently took a Sunday walk along the canal …) Slowing down for horses, talking and perhaps remaining stationary so a nervous horse can pass, or wheeling the bike past a worried horse, can all help to prevent a horse becoming bike-shy and help road users work together so the roads are a safer place.

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7 thoughts on “Lycra-clad Monsters 

  1. Susan Friedland-Smith May 19, 2015 / 8:43 pm

    That’s frustrating. My personal lycra-clad monster (my husband) was out biking on a mountain bike trail about a week ago. He realized a horse was coming down the hill and kind of pulled over and paused and the rider was kind of rude to him (as though he weren’t going to pause for the horse to pass).

    I ride in an arena that is adjacent to a trail used by hikers, bikers, walkers, horses, etc. Last weekend I saw a horse at one end who would be meeting up with a group of people with several dogs (on the other end). I could see they were on a path to meet, but they couldn’t see each other. I called out to the dog walkers, something to the effect “Just so you’re aware, there’s a horse coming up.” They responded to me as though I had chastised them, assuring me their dogs were all on leash. I simply was trying to give them a heads up because I own a very excitable dog and thought I’d want to be prepared for a large horse coming around the corner.

    So the lesson I think is we should all listen first and not jump to conclusions so quickly.

    • therubbercurrycomb May 19, 2015 / 8:47 pm

      Yes I’m sure we are as much to bland sometimes. I try to engage cyclists, or even pedestrians, but some look as though I’m mad or that I need to move out their way. I just want everyone to be safe and happy 🙂

  2. firnhyde May 20, 2015 / 4:26 am

    Amazing how cocky pedestrians and cyclists can be when faced with half a ton of extremely worried animal with iron on its feet and a notoriously unstable human on its back…
    I have to say that in the area where I ride, people are generally extremely courteous. Perhaps it’s because it’s not really horse country, so seeing a horse hacking along is quite a novelty and people tend to stop anyway to watch it go by. The one problem I had was when I was riding a nervous young filly past a school. The kids in the playground all started to wave and shout hello, at which point my filly got up on her back legs. The kids, delighted beyond description, started to cheer wildly, prompting the filly to courbette along on her hindlegs with me clinging determinedly to her mane and the kids cheering louder with every leap. It made their day.

  3. Becky May 20, 2015 / 8:10 am

    Thanks for posting this, it’s reminded me that I ride a mature but very green horse and he needs exposure to cyclists. I read recently that it’s good to hack out with a cyclist accompanying you if possible, as this can help desensitise horses. Clearly, it won’t quite replicate the full experience, as your friendly companion will cycle courteously with you, but it is meant to help at least a little.

    • therubbercurrycomb May 20, 2015 / 3:55 pm

      Yep I did that with a friend to get her hacking out alone – a bike is a step down from a horsey companion but still with an extra pair of hands, and then she cycled out with Llani, which really helped, but I also used to cycle to the field so he got used to me appearing on wheels and feeding them. Then I’d cycle around the field… Then they started chasing me so I abandoned that. But I can cycle and lead Llani so he’s not that scared of them! But then, I chat away to him as we go 🙂

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