Next, FarmWife always offers this: "Will you be heading up the road? I'll keep an ear out for you." This is a joke, because FarmWife is more than half deaf and couldn't locate a freight train in a railroad tunnel. It does, however, usually elicit this response—"yes, and we'll keep an eye out for you." Good news! I, Fenway Bartholomule, would rather be approached by a driver who rounds the bend thinking, "where can that scaredy-mule have gotten to? He could be anywhere," than a driver who rounds the bend thinking, "yee-haw! Step on it!"
We equines can be reactionary, and even the most stoic among us may not stand up to a speeding vehicle. It is to our benefit when other trail users understand that we can be startled, and that vigilance is warranted when sharing a trail. I don't mind being the poster-boy for vulnerable equines, and I'd rather not be roadkill.
In addition to alerting motorists to our presence, and to our desire for a safe, slow approach, FarmWife likes to thank them for their sensitivity. If a motorcyclist slows, cuts his engine, or removes his helmet, she always offers effusive thanks. "It was SO kind of you to stop. Horses and mules can be frightened of dirt bikes, and it's wonderful for my mule to see that you're not going to hurt him. I really appreciate it!"
A dedicated, equines-only trail system would be nice—it would also be nice if I pooped golden coins. It ain't goin' to happen, though, and there's absolutely no point in arguing with other trail users. Here in Wickersham, we have a handful of mountain bikers, dirt bikers, ATV riders, loggers, and hunters who use the same access roads that FarmWife and I ride up every week. Many of them have come to know me, Fenway Bartholomule. Most of them know that I am a mule who can be startled, sometimes, and that I am a mule who appreciates a slow-and-wide approach. They also know that FarmWife appreciates their care, and that we think they're swell. Ears to them, and ears to you. May your trails be smooth, scenic, and safe.