This is a true story of the male ego and road rage on horseback.

I love the quiet solitude of a Saturday afternoon horseback ride. The clear blue skies in rural San Diego County. The warm breeze. The smell of sage and lilac watered by the winter’s rain. Hawks soar above and doves cooing in the chaparral beside the trail. The rolling gait of my Tennessee Walking horse. I am riding on one of the few remaining large undeveloped parcels of land left in Valley Center. My world is at peace.

Now it is time to return home, bathe the horse, eat dinner with my wife, maybe watch a movie or sit outside to look at the stars. In order to get home, I must ride on my neighbor’s narrow driveway which goes down a hill, through a dry creek bottom and then up a short hill on the other side.

Because of the hills, creek bottom and surrounding trees I cannot see from one end of the driveway to the other. As I near the creek bottom, I hear the roar of motorcycles approaching on a collision course.

I ride my horse as far off the road as possible and await the arrival of the dirt bikes.

The first one comes through the dry creek and accelerates up the other side before he sees me and my horse. The young motorcyclist is on one of those smaller bikes and regaled in full brightly colored motocross gear. The horse whirls and tries to escape the whine of the two-cycle engine and flash of colors. I yell at the driver to slow down. The motorcyclist looks in my direction and continues without slowing.

Before the first driver is fifty yards down the drive, a second bike comes through the creek. Same deal. He only notices me only when I yell at him to slow down. The horse’s sense of panic escalates. When I yell at the second motorcyclist to slow down, he merely looks away and races on to catch his buddy.

Before the sound of the second bike fades, I hear a third motorcycle coming harder and faster than the first two. I can tell from the deeper pitch of the approaching engine that this is much bigger bike and the driver is using that extra horsepower to catch the younger drivers. I become more passionate about getting the driver to slow down while struggling to control the horse.

I begin yelling sooner and louder to make my presence known. As anticipated, this third dirt bike is larger, nosier than the first two and the rider older. The horse is fighting the bit and trying to make a break to escape the terrorizing whine of motorcycle engines and sight of streaking color.

The third driver finally looks in the direction of me and my panicked horse, salutes us with one-half of a peace sign, cracks his throttle open and roars after the two younger motorcyclists.

I guess this is when my brain stopped working.

After gaining control of my horse, I turn the frantic 1,300 lb. beast in the direction of the escaping motorcycles in order to pursue our tormentors. Given the horse’s panicked state of mind, it is not difficult to spur him in a full gallop. We start to chase that rude, inconsiderate and dangerous driver of the third dirt bike who doesn’t understand that a peace sign requires two fingers and not just the middle finger.

What am I thinking? As my wife so eloquently reminds me, I am doing what men do best. Acting without thinking. My blood is boiling and I am riding like the wind. In my mind, I see myself as the good guy chasing the bad guy. I am the proud Native American pursuing the noble buffalo in order to feed my village. I am a man protecting my turf.

Was I just trying to scare the rude, inconsiderate motorcyclist by giving chase for a minute or two? Or did I really want to catch this teenager and explain the rules of the trail and proper etiquette between motorcycles and horses? These were questions asked by my wife much later…..of course, I have no clue.

In a split second, I am galloping up the driveway and onto the dirt trail in pursuit of my prey. Two hundred yards down the trail, it curves sharply to the left. As I round the curve, I discover the dirt bike hung-up on a rut in the trail and its helmeted driver standing beside the fallen bike in the middle of the trail.

At the same moment I see the motorcycle and driver blocking our path so does the horse. The dumb animal does the intelligent thing and makes a quick left to avoid trampling the obstacles in his path. My body proves the laws of physics are still in effect. In other words, when the horse went left, despite all of my tremendous riding skills to stay in the saddle, my body keeps going forward and I leave the saddle landing on the ground with all the grace and poise of sack of potatoes falling off the back of a truck.

Even with the unimpressive arrival, I am still ready to seize this opportunity to explain in a calm and fatherly manner the rules of riding motorcycles in the presence of horses to this teenager in addition to explaining that a peace sign needs two fingers, not one.

I climb stiffly to my feet and turn to face my antagonist. The motorcyclist removes his helmet and starts towards me. The immature teen has become a 40-something adult male. “What the #@&#@?!@# think you are doing yelling at my kids? You #@?!@#$# chasing us.”

My brain finally engages. Time for the ego to take a reality check. It becomes apparent that to continue with my original plan of teaching this guy a lesson could cause an escalation of the situation into one with limited options for a peaceful and mutually meaningful outcome with a successful exit strategy. --- ie. This could easily become a knock-down, drag-out, full-on adult (?) male brawl or an opportunity to use invading armies to find weapons of mass destruction rather than using diplomacy.

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Comments

PistolPete Jan. 23, 2010 @ 11:34 a.m.

Something tells me this guy and his sons are Native Sandy Eggans. Midwesterners are taught to respect the trails. I don't ride bikes but I've done ALOT of boonin' and muddin' in my day and no matter how much I had to drink, I always made sure nobody was sharing the trail with me.

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CuddleFish Jan. 23, 2010 @ 12:42 p.m.

Good story, thanks for sharing it with us.

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SDaniels Jan. 23, 2010 @ 2:03 p.m.

I do not use the word HATE lightly, and I absolutely HATE motorcycles in the preserves. Hikers and horseback riders have to put up with the incessant whine of their machines, instead of getting the peace and quiet we all came to enjoy. Their selfish need to go fast out here, something they could do with aplomb in the city and on the freeways, ruins it for people who want to enjoy the little unspoiled land we have left--with respect.

Motorbikes should absolutely be banned on all county and state preserves. Of course one problem is that even if they are banned, they trespass--and with the supreme arrogance that only braindead yahdudes feel with a half ton of metal between their legs.

I've been unapologetically sprayed with mud while hiking, and I tell you what,derf, I would have gotten in that guy's face--and I'm a 5 foot 4 inch girl. It may be stupid, but motorbikes bring out the dumb animal rage your horse had the good sense not to feel ;)

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SDaniels Jan. 23, 2010 @ 2:10 p.m.

Forgot to add the exception: I have enjoyed riding a motorbike that was the equivalent of a bicycle with a small engine in the desert, where it is allowed--places like Plaster City, where offroad vehicles reign. These areas have been open to riders of ATVs, ATCs, motorbikes, and dune buggies for many years, so there is no longer a question of whether or not we are ruining the indigenous flora of these limited areas. My cousin builds and races dune buggies in places like this, often near the border.

One can share with others the joy of riding machines without guilt here--these designated areas are where your motorcyclists should have gone--and they know it.

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MsGrant Jan. 23, 2010 @ 5:16 p.m.

"Was I just trying to scare the rude, inconsiderate motorcyclist by giving chase for a minute or two? Or did I really want to catch this teenager and explain the rules of the trail and proper etiquette between motorcycles and horses?"

No, you wanted to kick his ass, and with good reason. Great story.

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nan shartel Jan. 25, 2010 @ 7:44 a.m.

lawdy...what complete asswipes those idiot were

oops..that's not ladylike...but i think a woman on a 1300lb Tenessee Walker would have been tempted to do the same

the funny thing is that those boys were riding their horses "the kind that make too much noise and don't eat oats"

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bohemianopus Feb. 11, 2010 @ 11:27 a.m.

Great story!

Only I found myself wishing that when you found the bikers they had all crashed and burned. It would have been sweet. Really.

Being Italian, I guess vendetta just runs through my veins.

Hope your foot is better.

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