EQUUS - - Eq Tack& Gear -

Ed­die Ro­driguez and Rick Pel­i­cano, both re­tired mounted po­lice of­fi­cers who now teach self-de­fense for rid­ers, do not rec­om­mend car­ry­ing a gun on the trail un­less you are fully trained in firearm tac­tics and fa­mil­iar with all of the laws in your ju­ris­dic­tion.

Civil­ians, like law en­force­ment of­fi­cers, are held to the “use of force con­tin­uum” stan­dard in de­ter­min­ing how much force can legally be used against some­one in a given sit­u­a­tion. Es­ca­lat­ing to a fa­tal gun­shot be­fore you have ex­hausted all other pos­si­bil­i­ties could mean you will be pros­e­cuted for mur­der. “[Shoot­ing] is a last re­sort,” says Pel­i­cano. “If your life is be­ing threat­ened and you have an es­cape route that you didn’t take—es­pe­cially be­ing on a horse—shoot­ing in that cir­cum­stance could be a prob­lem for you.” Pep­per spray, which is le­gal in ev­ery state, can be an ef­fec­tive al­ter­na­tive for rid­ers; how­ever, it is sub­ject to reg­u­la­tions and may be pro­hib­ited in some lo­cal ju­ris­dic­tions. Check with lo­cal po­lice de­part­ments and/or park man­age­ment in the areas where you ride. If you do carry pep­per spray, be sure to clip the dispenser to your belt where you’ll have ready ac­cess to it in an emer­gency.

You’ll also need to de­sen­si­tize your horse ahead of time. Pep­per sprays can be dis­pensed as gels, streams or fogs, and the sound of the de­vice may spook your horse. Pel­i­cano rec­om­mends stream-de­liv­ered pep­per spray, which he says doesn’t tend to star­tle horses as eas­ily; this type of de­vice also de­liv­ers a steady stream that has a longer range that could be more use­ful for a per­son on horse­back.

To train your horse to ac­cept the sound, Pel­i­cano sug­gests us­ing Silly String. “I al­ways use Silly String to teach a horse to tol­er­ate it be­cause it’s very sim­i­lar to the pep­per spray stream in sound,” he says.

Some rid­ers may opt for one of the many other gad­gets mar­keted for per­sonal de­fense, in­clud­ing vari­a­tions on tasers, knives, brass knuck­les and billy clubs. Any of these can be used ef­fec­tively when an as­sailant is up close, but choose a weapon with care. You need to have some strength and train­ing to de­liver a good punch, for ex­am­ple, and you need to be both prac­ticed with your weapon and com­fort­able with the idea of in­flict­ing harm on an­other per­son. If you hes­i­tate, your as­sailant may be able to use your own weapon against you.

If you carry pep­per spray, be sure to clip the dispenser to your belt where you’ll have ready ac­cess to it in an emer­gency.

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