Claudia Harper

Claudia Harper

Equestrian has message for cyclists

Cyclists unknowingly spook horses when they approach from behind

  • Feb. 23, 2016 2:00 p.m.

Scott Stanfield

Record staff

 

Cyclists — whether they know it or not — will spook a horse when they silently approach the animal from behind.

Claudia Harper, who frequents the One Spot Trail by horse, would like to spread the word about safety awareness, especially considering the increased popularity of the trail  since it was upgraded along Condensory Road.

“They (cyclists) don’t understand the concept of predator-prey,” Harper said. “When a bicycle comes up behind a horse, it’s actually worse than a semi-trailer because he (cyclist) makes no noise until he’s right on top of the horse. He acts like a predator. Bicycle people don’t understand that a horse cannot see directly behind him. They jump forward because they wonder whether it’s a predator.”

Harper used to belong to the Golden Ears Provincial Park Society in Maple Ridge, an organization that advocated cohesiveness between horses, pedestrians and cyclists.

“It was about working together, in understanding each other’s needs and wants.”

She implores cyclists to call out when approaching a horse and rider from behind. It could simply be a ‘Hello’ or ‘Behind you’ or ‘Coming through on bike.’

“An important thing also is to keep moving forward, keep coming. If you stand still, you’ll be acting like a cougar skulking in the woods,” she said.

“A semi-trailer is far less scary for a horse than a bicycle because you can hear the semi-trailer coming half a mile away. It’s really about calling out and letting us know you’re there.”

Harper is a lifelong horse rider who teaches children. She has competed internationally as an endurance rider.

“Riding for me is a way of life,” she said.