Muni/Horse ettiquette

I have developed and maintained very good relations with horses and their riders
on the trails that we share around Folsom Lake. The official policy is for bikes
to give way to pedestrians and both to give way to horses. I always give way to
horses and only ride when the riders either pass or let me know that it is OK to
continue. I always ask the riders well in advance what they would like me to do.
Talk, stand still, whatever. The biggest problem for the horses, according to
their riders, is either they (the horses) seem confused because there aren’t as
many wheel as they are used to seeing, or they are frightened by the way my arms
wave about to maintain balance. The riders are usually very friendly, are
usually very complimentary about my riding, almost always comment about the
unique experience of seeing a unicycle on the trails, and always appreciate the
fact that I have given way. The later is something many bikers fail to do and is
the biggest reason for horse riders dislike of bikers. From time to time I see
one of the park rangers or volunteer search and rescue riders that patrol the
trails on horseback. I first ran into one two years ago on a trail where cycling
is permitted. He was very interested in hearing about mountain unicycling. The
conversation moved in the direction of how a unicycle is classified. I quoted
the California motor vehicle code which classifies (or atleast strongly implies)
that a regular unicycle is considered a pedestrian. The ranger said, “Hey,
that’s cool. Then you can ride on trails that bikers can’t ride on.” After that
I sometimes ride, cautiously, on “No Bikes” trails, always giving way to horses
and being as friendly as possible. I have never had a problem with horses or
their riders.

Today, after I spotted the Bobcat, I stopped on a wide trail (one that bikes are
permitted to ride on) when I saw some horses ahead at the top of a small hill.
The horses stopped and said I could come on past. As I walked up the hill the
rider asked if the hill was too steep to ride up. I said no, but I didn’t want
to frighten the horses by waving my arms as I worked my way up the hill. The
rider said she would actually rather that I ride so that the horses would get
used to seeing someone ride on one wheel and asked if I would circle around the
horses a couple times. That was a strange experience, but the riders (who I
think were just interested in seeing if I could ride up the hill and through
some rough terrain) thanked me in a friendly way and the general Muni/Equestrian
relationship around Folsom Lake was further improved.