As Simple as Hello

helloAs Simple as Hello

Robert”TrailMeister” Eversole

Northeast Chapter BCHW

There’s an expression in French: Simple comme bonjour, “simple as hello”.

Do you greet the folks that you’re sharing the trail with?  You should.  A friendly “Jambo” when you meet someone on the trail will not only help horse riders become everyone’s favorite trail partner it can also help to keep you safe.  The hiker you politely greeted could be the vital link that directs Search and Rescue to your location after a wreck that leaves you hurt and scared along the trail. You want the people you encounter on the trail to remember meeting you. Hello is a great way to start a conversation. Ask about the trail conditions ahead, water sources, or how far until the next trail junction or campsite.

Being polite, offering a friendly “Shalom”, and encouraging the people we share the trails with to engage in a brief chat will also help your horse to understand that the strange lycra clad beast ahead is indeed just another odd human, and not an equine eating creature to fear.

An “aloha” when coming across other trail users will help to break the stereotype of horsemen as rude, inconsiderate, and even dangerous. If we want to break the cycle of trail loss, horsemen need to become everyone’s favorite trail partners. We can do that in a variety of different ways starting with being polite.

Have you ever been riding, when someone greeted you with a hello, and it made you feel good? We all have. Those experiences underscore how powerful a simple hello can be. When you say hello to someone you’re acknowledging them, and we all love to be acknowledged. Every time we fail to say hello when we pass another trail user is a lost opportunity to make a positive difference in the world.

I’m energized when a simple hello turns into a positive interaction. The opposite is true of the less than stellar times when “guten tag” falls on deaf ears. We feed off of one another’s energy, which is why we feel so wonderful at the end of a good ride, but leave the DMV feeling like a drink is in order. When a sincere trail greeting is ignored it’s easy for us to feel awkward, silly, and even mad. Mother Teresa once said “Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.” When I think of greetings as a gift it makes it much easier to be OK with receiving nothing in return. I like to give gifts just because I can, without any expectation of reciprocation.

You don’t have to say “Konnichiwa” to everyone. Although I try to make it a point to say hello to all I meet on the trail, an exception is the very rare event when you happen upon someone who makes you feel unsafe. Keep moving in those situations, pull out a cell phone if you have one, or pretend that you’re with a group that is just behind you.

The vast majority of trail encounters are pleasant experiences that can be even better if we take the time to say “Hola”and mean it.  Don’t underestimate the power a hello can have on your fellow trail users. A hello costs you nothing, yet brightens the spirits of others, and yourself. That’s pretty powerful.

If we say “bonjour” just half the time we pass someone on the trail we’ll be making a huge difference and improving the world. It’s as simple as “hello!”

For more of my thoughts on trail riding, camping with horses, and more visit the largest horse trail guide in the world.

  • Pat Fish

    I take the time to explain to bikers and hikers that when they say howdy to a horse rider that lets the animal know what the potential threat is. They are unlikely to know, but appreciate learning, that if they are friendly then the equine will relax.

  • Ranger

    Carrying carrots/cookies and letting folks give your pony a treat is also a good way to engage people if your horse is the friendly type. Great way to leave a positive impression on youngsters hiking with their parents. I was that kid that didn’t have horses and would have been in heaven to be able to give them a treat. We are ambassadors for equines from loading the horse until you unload back at home.

    • baskhana

      I was also one of those kids without a horse. Maybe that is why I’m still horse crazy and still riding…best to sit a horse and enjoy the outdoors instead of a sedentary life.

    • Dar

      Ranger, I’d be cautious about letting anyone feed my horse. Even if you provide the treats. People don’t know how too feed horses , they get their finger bit and suddenly you and your horse are in a tight spot.
      I work in the horse racing industry as a gallop rider. Exercising the race horses. I also on occasion will use my lead pony to escort jockey and runners to the startng post. At Canterbury Park in Minnesota, the public can come up and pet our ponies between races when the runners are in the paddock. They also like to give treats. One day an ignorant kid got her finger bit, not bad, but next thing the pony girl knows is these stupid people were trying to sue her and have her poor horse destroyed all because little Julie didn’t know how to feed a horse . People are so far removed from livestock these days…… they don’t know anything about them.

  • Jeanette

    There’s a stereotype that horsemen are rude? Really? I never encountered that! But then, I always say hello on the trail, no matter who they are. The only trouble I ever have is with folks who don’t know the yield rules, and I usually try to explain it in the nicest possible way if they get it wrong (if they’re not cussing me out first, that is, in which case I’m a little less nice, but do my best to be patient 🙂 ).

    • Michelle Hooper I live on the North Oregon Coast, so we ride the beach somewhat regularly. I can’t believe the amount of snobby horse riders there are on the beach…usually riders from Portland or out of towners. Must the local riders recognize each other and wave or even ride over to each other to chat for a second…I myself am one of those chatty cathys that talk to everyone! I enjoy it. I also waited my whole life to have my own horse because I had a large family at a young age and they came first so I tend to be an ‘excited to ride’ rider and really love meeting people and hearing about where they’re from, etc. But yes, it’s been my experience that some riders are maybe not rude but unfriendly…then there are just some people that are unfriendly or rude any time and when they are riding they are just that much more rude. I look at it like this: we are all in this world together, so can’t we all just get along, support each other, be polite & friendly to each other, help out our fellow riders and remember that we all just want to ride! I also have to remind myself that just because I’m the type of person to offer a person a spot in my trailer, or to invite them on a ride or camping trip, especially if they don’t have a trailer or whatnot, that not everyone thinks that way…in fact, it’s been my experience that most don’t think that way. At least around here. But it won’t stop me from continuing to offer help so that the person in need of that little bit of help can get out and ride, ride, RIDE!! I know for me after waiting 25 years to have a horse and ride that I’ve got 25 years of catching up to do and I’m not the only one in that situation. So everyone please try and remember to be kind, thoughtful, and generous and help out a fellow rider that might need just a simple trailer ride to get out there….you might just be part of making someone’s life long dream come true for them.