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.
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.
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!
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.
I once rode up on a grizzly bear scratching on a tree.
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!
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!
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.
Once, there was a grizzly bear about 30 yards from me. The bear just looked up and decided to leave, thank goodness.
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?
WILLIAM J. ERICKSON PHOTO