Horses & Goats on the trail... compatible? Usually
I have been a part of the goat community for approximately 12 years. For the entirety of that period, our goatpacker ethic has always been a respect for horses/horse riders, and to attempt to minimize our impact by leaving the trail whenever and however possible when encountering horse riders.
Overall, this is a good practice, and good advice. But an experience last week showed me that there is a definitely another side to this horse vs. goat coin.
I was on the middle fork Boise River trail out of Atlanta, Idaho, about 9 miles into the Sawtooth wilderness. At the point of this encounter, I was on my way back to the trailhead. I encountered a Forest Service trail clearing crew campsite in a meadow a short way to the west of the trail. They had about 8 horses/mules, and had them hobbled in the field to the side of their campsite.
As we passed these animals, which were largely grouped together, one horse in particular took an uncommon interest in the goats, to the degree that he was now advancing on me, the goats and the trail. To do this with his front legs hobbled, he had to rear up and bounce forward on his front legs. It was apparently not his first time doing this, as he was quite efficient and making good forward progress using this maneuver. And should you think that he couldn’t get his front legs high enough to do any harm, all I have to say is, “YOU WEREN’T THERE!” It was consummately threatening, and I hope I never experience something like this again.
At this point, things rapidly descended into ultimate chaos. It became immediately clear that his intention was to stomp the goat’s heads into the ground, and I ended up between him and the goats, shouting very loudly with my hiking pole in his face. He was only moderately deterred, one of my smaller boys was running like mad to get away, I whacked him a couple of times in the face, and continued trying to get the attention of the handler of this obnoxious animal.
After what seemed like an eternity, this individual came ambling over with a rope, and diverting the animal’s attention, slowly led him away. Did this individual say anything to me? Maybe like, “I’m sorry”? NO, his only dialogue at all was with the bloody horse.
I can only speculate where this would have ended, should the handler not eventually made an appearance. I do carry pepper spray... and ‘heat’. And I felt threatened enough to contemplate drastic action.
I only know that this was wrong from every perspective, and the FS has no business having an animal out where it can endanger folks on the trail. Something here about the FS’s usual plaint, ‘a land of many uses’.
I’m one of them.
That is super scary. I have a horse that can rear sky-high when hobbled and can run almost as fast with hobbles as without, so I have no doubt that an aggressive horse is dangerous even when hobbled. I can't really blame the horse--he'd probably never encountered a goat (and especially not a packgoat) before. It's too bad the guy in charge wasn't more proactive about quickly getting control, and it's only good manners for him to apologize. He probably had no idea his horse would act like that when it saw a goat, but that's no excuse to treat the incident like it's not a big deal. The horse was being a menace, and he's going to need close supervision from now on. I have a horse that sometimes chases my goats, and because of that I don't trust him loose around children. My goats are quick enough to run away and dart under the scrub oak, but a kid would be in trouble.
Sorry you had that experience. I have my two nubians that get along well with my 3 horses but that is another matter then what you dealt with which was an irresponsible handler!
Thats why I'm switching to pack rhinos. They're actually pretty sweet, but they can take care of themselves when the time comes.
Rinos? How do they do at altitude? What about cold weather?
He spends his long winter evenings crocheting wooly warm sweaters for them.

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