What was Your Scari­est Wildlife En­counter?

On Face­book and in the Novem­ber/De­cem­ber ’16 is­sue, we asked, “What was your scari­est wildlife en­counter while trail rid­ing or horse camp­ing? How did you han­dle it?” Here’s a se­lec­tion of your re­sponses.


I saw a rac­coon once. It scared my cut­ting horse to death. But he also spooked at logs for years. I’m glad I live where there are no bears.

Deb­bie Hoover Sempter

A cougar was stalk­ing us, so my mare spun around to face it. The cougar jumped from one tree to the next, then ran off. I don’t think it was ex­pect­ing my horse to spin and face it.

Kelly Brook Allen

My mus­tang and I got be­tween a doe and her two fawns. I waited a bit, and the doe moved off. When the doe was gone, we started down the trail again. Then I saw a fawn run­ning down the trail ahead of us and that dang doe be­hind us! We just ran like heck un­til the fawn veered off the trail. Then there was the wild turkey. We han­dled that one by my horse go­ing home with­out me, and I still can’t turn my head to the right the way I once could.

Kimba Jus­tice

An­other rider and I were breez­ing Ara­bian race­horses on a sand track through a wood­land work­out area when a black bear came out about 100 yards ahead of us. He saw us and stood up on his hind legs, then didn’t move. It’s not easy pulling up two gal­lop­ing horses. Luck­ily, when we were around 20 yards away, we got the horses turned around and got out of there.

Patti Ness

Rid­ing in North­ern Cal­i­for­nia, my horse stopped on the trail and put his nose down to sniff at some­thing. It was a coiled rat­tlesnake right by his front foot just start­ing to rat­tle. We backed up, and it didn’t strike, but it scared the crap out of me!

Deb­bie Jar­rell

I’ve en­coun­tered bears, wild dogs, and snakes, but wild hogs are the worst.

Mark R. Lee

When I lived in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia, we were al­ways on the look­out for scor­pi­ons when horse camp­ing and rat­tlesnakes on ev­ery trail ride. Also scary was scoop­ing black widow spi­ders out of grain bins be­fore we could feed the horses.

Kath­leen R. Rob­bins

Round­ing a blind cor­ner at a trot, I came upon a deer stand­ing in the mid­dle of trail. The deer went one way, my horse went the other way, and I re­mained sta­tion­ary about five feet off the ground. Then grav­ity hit. I fell on my cell­phone and thought I broke my hip. That’s the one and only time I fell off my horse.

Ben Hobe

I once rode up on a griz­zly bear scratch­ing on a tree.

Robert Baker

Rid­ing alone in Ari­zona’s Huachuca Moun­tains, my horse walked right into the mid­dle of a band of ma­raud­ing coati (a mem­ber of the rac­coon fam­ily). They didn’t seem to bother the horse much, but it rat­tled me pretty good. I had no idea what they were!

Tony Fran­cis

In the moun­tains of Mon­tana, I was rid­ing with a friend on a trail that had downed tim­ber on the high side and a 50-foot dropoff into a lake on the other. We were be­ing stalked by a mountain lion, and the horses knew it. My great mare had one eye on the moun­tain­side and the other on the trail. She picked up the pace just enough to safely get out of there. I lost that great lit­tle mare a cou­ple of years ago, and I sure do miss her in these moun­tains!

Susie Boyle

Rid­ing in Al­berta, the horses got real un­easy as we were cross­ing a clear­ing head­ing back into the woods. Then a black bear cub scooted up a tree. Let’s just say we didn’t stick around to meet mama.

Belinda Dalby

Once, there was a griz­zly bear about 30 yards from me. The bear just looked up and de­cided to leave, thank good­ness.

Mary McMa­han

Next ques­tion: How do you deal with rain and mud when rid­ing your horse on the trail and when trai­ler­ing him? What top tip would you of­fer other rid­ers?


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