Nancy Hendry and Avril Cree regularly use the Cowichan Valley Trail to ride and exercise their horses, but they say the bad habits of some of the cyclists on the multi-use trail can create dangerous situations. (Submitted photo)

Whoa there: equestrians seek etiquette on Cowichan Valley Trail

Horses sometimes startled by other users

Some users of the Cowichan Valley Trail are taking exception to the bad habits of others.

The multi-use trail, an integral part of the Trans Canada Trail route on Southern Vancouver Island, is popular with walkers, cyclists and horse riders, but fears are being raised that the lack of etiquette on the trail by some users, particularly cyclists, could lead to someone getting hurt.

Nancy Hendry, an equestrian from the Skutz Falls area, is on the trail twice a day and said there is no right-of-way on the trail, so passing is dependent on common sense.

However, she said common sense seems to be in short supply when it comes to horses, especially amongst many of the bike riders.

Hendry said horses should be approached from behind by those about to overtake them on the trail in a “slow and wide” manner, and a warning should be given from several metres away by bell and/or voice.

RELATED STORY: NEIGHBOURS QUESTION LOGIC OF NEW SHAWNIGAN RAIL WITH TRAIL PROJECT

“Horses are prey animals with peripheral vision, so if a bike approaches quietly and fast, even a good horse will react,” she said.

“I have talked to many people about the ‘boy racers’ who ride the trail as if it were a racetrack, and I find that pedestrians and ‘average’ cyclists are also being spooked by inconsiderate bike riders.”

RELATED STORY: NEW SIGNS AND MORE AIM TO MAKE SENSE OF NORTH COWICHAN’S TRAILS

Avril Cree also regularly rides her horse on the trail and has faced many of the same problems as Hendry.

She said her horse, Diamond, is experienced and used to sharing the trail with others users, but even Diamond is sometimes spooked by “inconsiderate” cyclists.

“Many of the bikes don’t slow down when approaching, and don’t warn you they are coming, which can be very unnerving for horses, even experienced ones,” Cree said.

“A startled horse could knock people off their bikes. I love it when cyclists approaching from behind yell out ‘I’m coming behind you on a bike’. The horse knows they are coming then and won’t get startled. Normally, most of the cyclists are good and respectful, but a few of them won’t slow down and warn you they are coming, creating the potential for a dangerous situation.”

RELATED STORY: COWICHAN THERAPEUTIC RIDING VIDEO NOW HAS MORE THAN ONE MILLION VIEWS

Patricia Gray, who has had similar encounters with her horse on the trail and has even been verbally abused after suggesting to passing bikers that they should be more careful around her horse, has decided to take the bull by the horns and try to deal with the issue.

She has been in contact with the Horse Council of B.C. who have educational pamphlets and documents to help educate cyclists that she intends to distribute in the Valley.

Gray said she and other advocates have also begun visiting local bike shops to raise awareness of the issue.

“Some of us are also approaching the Cowichan Valley Regional District to see if we can have signage placed along the trail that would teach all trail users the proper etiquette when approaching each other, regardless if the users are walking, on bikes or horses,” she said.

“Good signage is easily available if the district is interested.”

Brian Farquhar, the CVRD’s manager of parks and trails, said the district is always open and receptive to ideas that ensure trail users are aware of the expectations of them while on the trail.

He said the district has only recently become aware of any significant conflicts between trail users, and placing trail-etiquette signs at trail entrances in the areas of concern is probably a good idea.

“We would look to replicate what some other jurisdictions have had success with in the way of placing signage,” Farquhar said.

“I think this a good reflection of just how popular the Cowichan Valley Trail has become. But all users should be aware of the expectations on them, and that they should share the trail with others in a respectful manner.”



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

After more than 2 weeks, still no sign of Ethan Sampson of Duncan

Still no sign of 28-year-old Cowichan Tribes man

Chemainus woman sets a new standard for 106-year-olds

Active lifestyle includes a trip to Scotland in the works for May

Local state of emergency ends in Cowichan Valley

No further threats of flooding in the Valley

Pressure builds for buses from Cowichan to ferry terminals

North Cowichan’s council now requesting bus connections be considered

VIDEO: 7 things you need to know about the 2020 B.C. budget

Surplus of $227 million with big spending on infrastructure and capital projects

Trees Cannabis director fined $1.5M for selling marijuana

Fine follows provincial crackdown on popular dispensary

World Cup skier from Okanagan dies suddenly at 19

Kuroda, who made his World Cup debut earlier this year, passed away suddenly Monday night.

Coastal GasLink pipeline investor committed to closing deal despite protests

Developer TC Energy Corp. — formerly TransCanada Corp. — is to remain the operator of the $6.6-billion pipeline

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

What’s in a name? The story of Revelstoke’s Mt. Begbie

It’s likely the iconic peak had several Indigenous peoples’ names before settlers arrived

Budget 2020: B.C. Liberals blast ‘Netflix tax,’ lack of economic plan

ICBC rates still go up, except in election year, Shirley Bond says

Teen snowmobiler from Kelowna found after air force’s overnight search

The teen had been missing since just after 6 p.m. on Monday

Two law enforcement trucks ‘deliberately’ set on fire in northern B.C., RCMP say

Police say they have video evidence of a person in the area of the truck fires

Most Read