A couple of friends and I rode through Proud Lake Rec Area on Saturday 8/3. I'm sad to say that, for only the 3rd time in 7 years of riding Proud Lake, I had an unpleasant encounter with an equestrian. The 1st two occasions were early on - in 2007/8, when there were few bikers riding in the park - and since then I have had many pleasant and peaceful interactions with equestrians there. Saturday's encounter was with a bitter old man with a chip on his shoulder who apparently wanted to pick a fight.
We were riding through the meadow area on loop 2 (just past the house on Garden Rd) where the visibility is generally quite good. We were chatting, and not going particularly fast. All of sudden I see Mr. Equestrian about 20-25 feet ahead, around a slight bend and standing still behind a tree, partially obscured. He obviously heard us coming and stopped, although never called out to us. Admittedly, the horse was somewhat startled by our approach. We immediately pulled off the trail, and knowing that human voices can reassure a startled horse, I called out - "I'm really sorry about that, I didn't see you there. We've pulled off the trail, please come on through, we'll wait here."
He responded angrily by saying - "Like *beep* you didn't see me, I'm not exactly small sitting way up here on this horse!" I responded "Look, you're behind a tree in shadow, and around this bend, I honestly didn't see you until now." He then when on a little diatribe about how "you mountain bikers" have no business riding in this park, you have plenty of other places to ride, that equestrians have no other places left to ride except here (not true, by the way), etc. etc. Meanwhile, he starts moving closer to us.
I tried to defuse the situation to no avail, saying "You don't need to be like that, I honestly didn't see you, I apologized, and we've pulled off the trail - please just continue on your ride."
But he continued on where he left off.....to which I finally responded. "It's not my problem that you don't want us here, you'll have to take that up with the park management; this is a multi-use trail, and we are allowed to ride here just like you."
Mr. Equestrian apparently didn't like that at all....then he starts moving his horse within just a few feet of us, in an apparent attempt to intimidate us, and started using foul language. The horse, obviously not socialized to mountain bikers, was still skittish and jittery through all of this. This time I felt it necessary to raise my voice, telling him that he needs to just move along.
This time he gets more belligerent, telling me (among other choice things) to "Kiss my *beep*!". In between chuckles (presuming he was confusing "kiss my ass" with "suck my *beep*"), I responded with "I would, but it's obviously so small that I wouldn't be able to find it...." Before I could finish my thought by adding, "....because obviously you're compensating for your tiny *beep* by riding that large animal", he yelled out that he was going to kick my f@&%ing ass and directed his horse directly at me. His horse, still spooked, reared up a bit and turned the other way. The three of us decided to take the opportunity to exit before the grumpy old man hurt himself or his horse.
While perhaps I *should have* remained calm and cool, and not insulted him at the end, the whole situation was just absurd. As if we wanted to startle his horse? If we were intentionally trying to do that, we wouldn't have stopped at all - we could have just blown by him and let the horse throw him to the ground. What a complete idiot. I feel sorry for the poor horse that has to put up with this guy on a daily basis.