Southampton Trails Preservation Society
While this protocol is written from the horseman’s perspective, it applies to everyone who uses our
trails – hikers, runners, bikers and horsemen.
RESPECT ALL USERS
Trail users include many different kinds of enthusiasts. All combinations of users will enjoy their activities if they display a little
extra knowledge, respect and courtesy. Trail etiquette protects users and the land over which they travel.
- Stay on the trail
- Carry out more than you carry in
- Leave no trace
- Report illegal activities such as ATVs and dumping
- Greet other users
- Pass to the right
The average horse stands over 7 feet tall, weighs more than 900 pounds and can run 30 miles per hour.
Nature has designated the horse as the prey animal, the animal that others have for dinner. His only defense is to be
exceptionally alert and attentive to his surroundings so as to be ready for instantaneous escape. Unfamiliar objects, such as a
backpack or a child on a bicycle can be perceived as a predator by a horse. To make matters more difficult, the horse has no
depth perception. In this flat panorama, he is particularly sensitive to motion, which can set off his alarm.
The horse does not take time to reason—he reacts by instinct. Nature designed his alarm system to move him instantly to safety.
Calm, pleasant conversation reassures the horse that all is safe and lets him know that you are coming up even though you may
not yet be in direct view. Slower, fluid movement tells the horse you are not a threat. Letting your breath out audibly tells the
horse you are not going to attack!
Please be considerate.
HIKER MEETS HORSE
- Speak up! Call out a friendly ‘Hello’!
With their limited vision, your hello reassures them that you are a human and not a hungry mountain lion or, especially when on a
bicycle, that you are coming up instead of appearing suddenly. Wait for a signal from the horse person; he/she will know whether
to just keep moving, to ask you to step aside or whether it is wiser for them to step aside. Some horses do fine with hikers but
become disturbed when a runner, especially a silent one, comes relentlessly towards them or up from behind them.
The horse rider should greet you and let you know the preferable way of passing. Some riders are eager to stop and talk if you
are. All should be friendly, but if a rider chooses to keep going by without stopping, he may have decided that is the best way to
control that particular horse. He is not being discourteous.
If you are hiking with a dog, be sure she is under control also.
BIKE RIDER MEETS HORSE – ON THE TRAIL AND ON THE ROAD
- Speak up! Call out a friendly ‘Hello’!
A bicycle is generally quiet and is not heard by the horse or the rider. Say hello when you are first aware there is a horse. If he is
ahead of you, ask to pass if you want to do that and then wait for the rider to tell you what to do. Most will find a wider part in the
trail and then step aside so you can pass, turning the horse so he can see you. Keep responding so the horse knows you are not
When coming toward a horse, please pull over and dismount. Speak to the rider as soon as you are aware there is a horse. The
rider will let you know the best way to continue. Usually the horse passes by, everyone verbally admires the weather and you can
get back on your way.
THE HORSEBACK RIDER’S JOB
- Be friendly and use common sense
Not every trail user knows about horses and how they react to perceived danger. Riders need to educate and to thank others for
their courtesy so that horses continue to be welcomed on trails.
Stay on the trail, slow to a walk when passing, wear a helmet and take your cell phone. Talk to people; make friends for all of us
who love to ride.
RIDING ATVs ON ANY PUBLIC LAND IN SUFFOLK OR NASSAU COUNTY IS AGAINST THE LAW.
REPORT ATVs AND DUMPING TO 9-1-1
GENERAL ADVICE FOR ALL:
- Be prepared for the unexpected. Slow down at curves and intersections or at any time the sightline is interrupted.
- Glass, cans and other debris on the trail can puncture bike tires and seriously injure a horse. Please pick it up and carry it
out with you.
- Horse manure is totally biodegradable and spreads no disease to humans or animals. Beverage cans, water bottles and
plastic bags do not biodegrade.
BICYCLISTS YIELD TO HIKERS ~ BICYCLISTS AND HIKERS BOTH YIELD TO HORSES
The following information has been provided with permission of Nassau Suffolk Horsemen’s Association (www.nshaonline.org), by
Horses on Trails, the equestrian division of Southampton Trails Preservation Society (www.southamptontrails.org).
SHARING THE TRAILS