Extreme horse hazard

Commuting, Day rides, Audax, Incidents, etc.
RodT
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Joined: 7 Oct 2016, 8:59am

Extreme horse hazard

Postby RodT » 15 Aug 2019, 9:43am

Homeward bound on le Vélo Francette through Mayenne, I hear the sound of galloping hooves. Then around the bend comes a herd of five or six big, cobby, coloured (piebald) horses, going like a cavalry charge. They are saddled, bridled and RIDERLESS. I hurl myself and the bike onto the verge as they go pelting by. A couple of terrified dog-walkers have taken cover behind a tree. Then comes a single horse, again without a rider. I manage to stop it and try leading it back to whatever incident has caused this catastrophe. Of course, it only wants to run with the others, and it’s kicking up such a fuss that I have to let it go. After a short conversation with the dog-walkers, I ride on, thinking I’m bound to come across some riders without horses. But there is no sign of them, or of any incident. So I shall never know what happened, and even though, a couple of weeks later, it sometimes seems like an incident in a dream, I know, from the memory of thundering hooves and wild-eyed horses that it wasn’t. And how on earth infantry soldiers ever stood up to a real cavalry charge I can’t imagine.

pwa
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Re: Extreme horse hazard

Postby pwa » 15 Aug 2019, 9:48am

With one or two horses loose with saddles on you might suspect an accident has happened and go looking for injured riders, but half a dozen sounds more like someone has been getting horses ready and something has happened to scatter them without riders. Best to get them off the road and into a field though. Which isn't always easy.

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Audax67
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Re: Extreme horse hazard

Postby Audax67 » 15 Aug 2019, 11:02am

I hope someone called it in. In the 80s when I was driving in heavy traffic on the Stuttgart-Karlsruhe Autobahn I passed a saddled & bridled horse that was stuck under the central crash barrier and flailing to get out. Horrible sight.
Have we got time for another cuppa?

RodT
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Re: Extreme horse hazard

Postby RodT » 15 Aug 2019, 11:07am

Fortunately it was a cycle track, not a road, so no danger from traffic. About the width of, say, the Camel trail, with a surface of fine dusty grit which rose in clouds from their hooves. In any case, there was no possibility of stopping them, unless, as has been suggested, they could be diverted into a field.

pwa
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Re: Extreme horse hazard

Postby pwa » 15 Aug 2019, 11:20am

RodT wrote:Fortunately it was a cycle track, not a road, so no danger from traffic. About the width of, say, the Camel trail, with a surface of fine dusty grit which rose in clouds from their hooves. In any case, there was no possibility of stopping them, unless, as has been suggested, they could be diverted into a field.

And of course you should also be thinking about your own safety. :) Adding a flattened cyclist to the situation isn't going to help.

whoof
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Re: Extreme horse hazard

Postby whoof » 15 Aug 2019, 12:38pm

I once came around a corner in a small lane in Cornwall to be confronted by a herd of cows running toward me. They were being pursued by a farmer who shouted "stop them". I got off my bike, jumped up onto the verge, dragging my bike after me and let them run past.

As the farmer ran on by he said " I thought I told you to expletive stop them" to which I replied "do I look like Buffalo expletive Bill?".

ChrisButch
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Re: Extreme horse hazard

Postby ChrisButch » 15 Aug 2019, 12:40pm

A few years ago I was riding my usual local narrow lane circuit during the hunting season, and passed a group of stationary huntspersons who seemed to be dismounting etc at the end of the day. About half a mile further on I heard galloping hooves behind me, getting steadily closer even though I was going at a fair pace. Odd, I thought - riders don't usually go that fast on the road for obvious reasons. I went a bit faster, but it was still closing the gap. Blimey, I thought, he's racing me. The horse finally drew alongside - and it was riderless.
Fortunately having proved it was faster than me, the horse lost interest, slowed down and trotted into a widening of the road by a field gate. What must have happened, I think, was that I passed the group just after its rider had dismounted and had momentarily let go of the reins before leading it to a nearby horsebox. Rather than being spooked by me (the usual reaction to a bike) the horse had seen me as a challenge.

Psamathe
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Re: Extreme horse hazard

Postby Psamathe » 15 Aug 2019, 12:52pm

whoof wrote:I once came around a corner in a small lane in Cornwall to be confronted by a herd of cows running toward me. They were being pursued by a farmer who shouted "stop them". I got off my bike, jumped up onto the verge, dragging my bike after me and let them run past.

As the farmer ran on by he said " I thought I told you to expletive stop them" to which I replied "do I look like Buffalo expletive Bill?".

Last month on EV6 (France) saw 6 bullocks running towards me. Canal on one side, hedge on the other so I stopped them but could not get past. I was not going back so after a brief "negotiation" the bullocks decided to head back. So we ended-up them running ahead of me riding. But after a bit I saw a farmer up on the bridge/path holding a gate. At that point, expecting a mouthful of abuse from the farmer for interfering with his cattle movements I was running through a few French words in my head for my response ("Merde", "Conerie", etc., basically to return his abuse I expected). But then he shouted for me to carry on. Turns out he wanted them back and thanked me for bringing them home.

Later on the tour came across group of 4 cattle on Dutch cycle path and some rather scared walkers. They turned round but became a nuisance as I wanted to go faster than they wanted to go but they would not let me past. And when you get past one, the one behind gets desperate to re-joining it's mates ahead. Eventually got 2 behind at which point they were happy behind and passing just 2 ahead was much easier.

Cattle don't worry me (I used to work on farms and recognise they can be dangerous but I've always managed to control them OK). But I don't know or like or trust horses.

Ian

whoof
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Re: Extreme horse hazard

Postby whoof » 15 Aug 2019, 1:03pm

Psamathe wrote:
whoof wrote:I once came around a corner in a small lane in Cornwall to be confronted by a herd of cows running toward me. They were being pursued by a farmer who shouted "stop them". I got off my bike, jumped up onto the verge, dragging my bike after me and let them run past.

As the farmer ran on by he said " I thought I told you to expletive stop them" to which I replied "do I look like Buffalo expletive Bill?".

Last month on EV6 (France) saw 6 bullocks running towards me. Canal on one side, hedge on the other so I stopped them but could not get past. I was not going back so after a brief "negotiation" the bullocks decided to head back. So we ended-up them running ahead of me riding. But after a bit I saw a farmer up on the bridge/path holding a gate. At that point, expecting a mouthful of abuse from the farmer for interfering with his cattle movements I was running through a few French words in my head for my response ("Merde", "Conerie", etc., basically to return his abuse I expected). But then he shouted for me to carry on. Turns out he wanted them back and thanked me for bringing them home.

Later on the tour came across group of 4 cattle on Dutch cycle path and some rather scared walkers. They turned round but became a nuisance as I wanted to go faster than they wanted to go but they would not let me past. And when you get past one, the one behind gets desperate to re-joining it's mates ahead. Eventually got 2 behind at which point they were happy behind and passing just 2 ahead was much easier.

Cattle don't worry me (I used to work on farms and recognise they can be dangerous but I've always managed to control them OK). But I don't know or like or trust horses.

Ian

I used to live on a farm and I knew and were quite happy to be amongst the cattle there. A herd of them running at me is a different matter. There have been a few instances of farmers being trampled to death by their own cattle as well as a number of walkers suffering the same fait.

Mike Sales
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Re: Extreme horse hazard

Postby Mike Sales » 15 Aug 2019, 1:06pm

Sheep, though unthreatening, can be difficult.
Often, when toiling slowly up a long Welsh hill, I have come across one or more in the road.
They run ahead with every indication that they can keep trotting for miles at my crawling speed.
I worry that I may drive them far from home.
There seems only one course of action.
I whip my aching legs into a sprint, on the opposite side of the road. Faster and faster until I draw level and they reverse course in a panic.
At last I can resume my plod.

pwa
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Re: Extreme horse hazard

Postby pwa » 15 Aug 2019, 1:19pm

Very young cattle are normally easy to deal with. They are much more likely to run at you than adults, but they stop sharply when they get close and soon back off if you move towards them.

Older cattle are much less likely to come close but the odd one can be dangerous. A local person was nearly killed by a cow while he was walking across a field last year. I've known the same happen to a farmer, attacked by one of his own cows. So don't take your eyes off them.

It is a similar story with horses. Most are docile but if you find yourself sharing a field with a bad one, retreat quickly.

Bmblbzzz
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Re: Extreme horse hazard

Postby Bmblbzzz » 15 Aug 2019, 3:44pm

whoof wrote:I once came around a corner in a small lane in Cornwall to be confronted by a herd of cows running toward me. They were being pursued by a farmer who shouted "stop them". I got off my bike, jumped up onto the verge, dragging my bike after me and let them run past.

As the farmer ran on by he said " I thought I told you to expletive stop them" to which I replied "do I look like Buffalo expletive Bill?".

Assumed knowledge? I've seen people stopping cows (though just the odd one or two, not a herd of them charging) by simply standing in their path with arms outstretched, but it probably takes a bit of cow-knowledge to do that. I don't think I would! (And it turns out you do have cow-knowledge and judged it unsafe in this case.)

whoof
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Re: Extreme horse hazard

Postby whoof » 15 Aug 2019, 3:59pm

Bmblbzzz wrote:
whoof wrote:I once came around a corner in a small lane in Cornwall to be confronted by a herd of cows running toward me. They were being pursued by a farmer who shouted "stop them". I got off my bike, jumped up onto the verge, dragging my bike after me and let them run past.

As the farmer ran on by he said " I thought I told you to expletive stop them" to which I replied "do I look like Buffalo expletive Bill?".

Assumed knowledge? I've seen people stopping cows (though just the odd one or two, not a herd of them charging) by simply standing in their path with arms outstretched, but it probably takes a bit of cow-knowledge to do that. I don't think I would! (And it turns out you do have cow-knowledge and judged it unsafe in this case.)


I was once asked to dangle from a crane hook holding onto some rope netting that had been slung over it and be lowered more than 5 storeys to 'get the job done'. I refused and when asked why my response was, there are things I will risk my life for, this isn't one of them.
Stopping some cows is another.

Psamathe
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Re: Extreme horse hazard

Postby Psamathe » 15 Aug 2019, 5:03pm

Bmblbzzz wrote:.... I've seen people stopping cows (though just the odd one or two, not a herd of them charging) by simply standing in their path with arms outstretched, but it probably takes a bit of cow-knowledge to do that. I don't think I would! (And it turns out you do have cow-knowledge and judged it unsafe in this case.)

I used to have to do that periodically when I lived in France (very rural). It was not uncommon for a herd of cows to escape (though when you saw the quality of gate/fence you might call it "being allowed out"). Local village seemed to regard me as somebody who could control the things and although I lived a mile from the village I'd get woken up in the early hours to put a herd of cows back in a field (and was invariably told the farmer was probably pissed out of his brains in a ditch somewhere).

Not something I'd suggest others do but I've never had a problem doing it myself (maybe my confidence sends a message to the livestock?).

Ian

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gaz
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Re: Extreme horse hazard

Postby gaz » 15 Aug 2019, 5:13pm

Mrs gaz and I met these fine fellows at the weekend. Stopped, checked out a suitable escape route, took some snaps and waited for them to pass.

One did a brief bit of ground stomping with one hoof but it came to nothing.
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