SEPTEMBER 2016 NEWSLETTER

From the Desk of the President:

What a rotten summer for trail riding in the Shawnee. For those who have to schedule their vacations months before, I hope you were able to ride without getting drenched!

Information regarding our animals vision and instincts for survival have been included. Refreshing what we already know about equine behavior and learning why helps us understand and better relate to our animals. Alternately it is to educate other users why equines react as they do and that it is not just a “training issue”. When some of our hiker/equestrian trails are changed to multi-use, perhaps other users will understand our apprehension of sharing with things our equines deem as frightening.

The Forest Service is moving slowly forward with this change. The mountain bike community has been pushing hard to be included on trails within the trail designation project. These are the trails that are in close proximity to the private horse camps creating potential for more accidents than if more remote trails became multi-use.

Tentative plans are for a draft proposal to be ready for public comment by the end of the year. Of course, government moves very slowly most times so this may get delayed. Whenever the time comes, I hope that everyone takes time to make constructive comments.

The Forest Service has indicated that hard facts about individual trails will help them to choose trails more appropriate for multi-use. Knowing there will be user conflicts, finding trails with the least blind corners; with the longest sight lines; trails without cliffs or steep hillsides, hopefully will help the FS in their decision for changes to multi-use designation.

Stating how mountain biking will change your riding – what affect it will have on you. Being very specific will carry more weight with the FS. In a prior court ruling, it was found the STC had no standing but had individuals been plaintiffs with the complaint of “irreparable harm” the outcome could have been different.

Statistics listed in the Backcountry National Newsletter are: There are over 157,000 miles in the USFS trail system. 125,962 miles are outside of Wildernesses, 98% (123,739 miles) are open to mountain bicycling. 12,389 miles are specifically managed for mountain bicycling. These numbers are just in USFS land. They do not include other government or publicly owned land. The article in the newsletter was commenting on the push by the mountain bike community to include bikes in Wildernesses also. This user group is very politically active which makes them a very squeaky wheel! Please stay informed and active as the Shawnee forms their policy.

I hope you enjoy the information about our equines as much as I did.

Happy tails,
Linda Sanders

DONATIONS

The STC would like to give special recognition and thanks to the following people who have given donations. Most people are members but some send donations without being members after having enjoyed our wonderful Shawnee:

Dorothy Arjes, Janis Arnold, Suzanne & Clarence Barr, Owen Beckham, Connie Burrus, Doug & Lisa Crocker, Dennis Day, Dave Elliot, Mary Ann Ellison, Skyler & Jennifer Epperson, John Flewellyn, Robin Gallagher, Genie Gard, Ruth Hart, William & Florn Heintz, Deb Held, Terrilyn Heywood, Trudy & Bob Horsman, Clara Jean Jones, Bill & Linda Kennedy, Bill & Marilyn Kinsey Jerry & Christi Lowery, John & Loretta Maldaner, Alice Mann, Cathy Markman, Daniel Meyer, Tom & Tish Mick, Karen Pauk, Sandy Poletti, Carlos & Marilyn Post, Karen Quinn, Gerry Raban, Diane Ramey, Patty Ream & Jim Schmidt, Lynn & Keith Reuter, Sheila Richardson, Victor Satas, Kathy Schildmeir, Fern & Andy Schuwerk, Sue Simmons, Mona Swanson, Dennis & Elizabeth Williams, Edd & Karen Williams, Eddie & Nancy Wright, Hayes Canyon Campground, Shawnee Hills Trail Riders, and In Memory of Mike Bradley.

The support given from those who recreate in the Shawnee has always been a driving force, keeping our organization vital as a representative of the equestrian community. These donations along with paid memberships are the backbone to allow us to not only keep private property owners happy, but to meet other needs as they arise. All work is volunteer.

FREE CAMPING WINNERS

Three separate packages of free camping have been given away to paid current year members. Drawings are held at our monthly meetings starting in April. Our first winner is Clay Cralle. The May winners are Bud & Marilyn Post. June found Charlie & Nancy Boland as the winners.

Clay Cralle requested his package be given to another as is allowed in the rules. Another drawing was held in July and Edd & Karen Williams won.

Congratulations to each month's winner and thanks to these winners and our whole membership for supporting the Shawnee Trail Conservancy.

SEEING EYE TO EYE
by Janet L. Jones, PhD taken from Equus, Feb 2016
(segments not written are examples and training techniques)

“Since the 1960s, cognitive psychologist have shown that we construct sight using information from our eyes combined with knowledge in our brains. …... Neuroscientist Gerald Edelman said it best: “Every perception is a creation.” “The trouble is horses create their perceptions in ways that are very different from ours. Visual information travels from the eye to the brain in both species, of course. But the human brain sends back six times as much neural information in the opposite direction, transmitting messages to the sensory relay state that captures incoming views. This wiring is infrastructure for perceptual interpretation: the effect of knowledge being melded with the eye's pictures of the outside world. …....... Equine vision is different from human vision in almost every way – acuity, range, eye contact and detection of peripheral motion, just for starters. …...

Equine eyes are eight times larger than human eyes; in fact, they are larger than those of any other land mammal. But a horse's acuity – the ability to discriminate fine detail while focusing on something in the center of the visual field – is considerable worse than ours. By convention, normal human acuity is 20/20. What a normal person sees from a distance of 20 feet is the same as what you see from a distance of 20 feet. …..... A typical horse's acuity is about 20/30. Details we can see from a distance of 30 feet, he can only see from 20 feet. A horse has to be 50 percent closer to see the same details. …....

The most obvious features of a horse's eyes are their size and placement on the sides of the head. Human eyes are comparatively smaller and point forward. The position of eyes on the face accounts for profound differences in the ways people and horses see, dictating visual range, peripheral motion detection and depth perception. ….... Human vision is limited to roughly 45 degrees on either side of our noses for a total of about 90 degrees. …. Because (horses eyes) are on the sides of his head, he has a 350 degree view, almost four times greater than the range we see. The horse's visual range stretches from the end of his nose all the way around to an imaginary line extending straight back from his hip. (when horses perceive something as a threat) every fiber of their evolutionary being says that the way to survive … is to run.




The horse sees a broad band of world to the sides and back of his body but it is narrow. His vision is poor above and below the level of his eyes. Sights directly to the horse's side but on the ground or in the air are difficult to see unless he cocks his head. Equine vision also creates blind spots. A horse cannot see a person standing directly in back of him. Surprised from behind, even the sweetest horse can kick in almost any direction. …... A second blind spot exists in front of the horse's face, from his eye level to the ground below his nose and out to about six feet. A hand suddenly raised will appear to him to come from nowhere. He cannot see the grass he grazes on, the bit he accepts, the fingers that stroke his muzzle........

PREDATOR AND PREY

Beautiful wide-set equine eyes reflect the evolutionary needs of prey (species that are hunted) ...... (humans are predators) our forward facing eyes tell every horse the truth. Prey animals identify predators by smell and sight – including their view of eye position. ….. Evolution has also equipped horses to be highly aware of peripheral motion. To move in for a kill, predators need sharp sight to central areas of the visual field. Prey animals, on the other hand, don't often need to know WHAT they have seen. They only need to know that they HAVE seen. In other words, horses must notice peripheral motion immediately, regardless of what it is, so they can leave at high speed before a potential predator begins to approach. …. The human brain takes half a second to process each glance at the world and determine what it has seen – shape, color, size, distance, importance and so on. Half a second of processing is out of the question for a horse in the wild: He needs to notice a tiny movement in the bushes and step on the gas. Every millisecond of delay could mean death. … The horse's natural reliance on peripheral motion detection dictates his need to shy or bolt …...” (the above information is edited from the article to give the pertinent information regarding equine vision and evoluntionary responses)

When people who do not understand horses tell us that we just need to train our horses better, they are exhibiting their ignorance of equines. Training can help to desensitize an animal but that training can only alter an equine's reactions to a point. Once their instincts have been heightened into survial mode, no amount of training can predictably keep them from bolting – or even kicking out at whatever is perceived as a threat to their life.

Another comment made by other users is that we are stupid or crazy to ride such animals. Even if that is true, it is our choice. The relationship between equines and humans is something that is experienced and not easily perceived by others. As Winston Churchill quoted: “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.”

TRAIL WORK

With all the wet weather this year, just getting Frank's Track mowed has been a challenge! We still have rock to spread there. Maybe this fall it will dry up. Here is a photo of Frank's tract after trimming the east trail back so a tractor could even get down it. It had grown to the point of having to duck limbs and branches to ride through.





And luckily, an adjoining landowners bulls are back in their pasture. There were several very large Herefords that lurked in the brush earlier this year. I had one walk out in front of my young mare and not move. She was already on high alert because she had smelled the animal before arriving at where he was. It takes a pretty good horse not to startle at that! Needless to say, we did a 180 degree spin and I almost fell off. Since the bull was taller and much larger than we were, I was hesitant to press into him, my young mare was not having anything to do with that idea anyway! I hollered and whooped to get him to move but he just stood there. It felt like he was holding his ground waiting for my horse to whirl around again. There was no way around him, so we waited him out. Evidently he got bored and finally slowly turned and sauntered back into the thicket. Every time we go down that trail now, my mare is on high alert expecting one of those big, smelly, scary creatures to jump out and devour her!

WORK DONE BY USFS

The FS is just now getting back to work on reconstructing trails in the One Horse Gap area. This work is part of the RTP grant awarded to FS from the STC grant application. Needless to say, their work was halted also because of the wet weather.

The FS has lost several of their recreation and trail employees. Two have left in trails and three have left in recreation. No information is available when these position will filled. Limited staff has been a recurring problem so losing this number of people in the areas will affect how much trail work will get done.

Shawnee Trail Conservancy
P.O. Box 44
Eddyville, IL 62928


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