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By Jenny Cook, Michigan Equestrian Trails Representative and ELCR

The Trails Safe Passing Plan: STOP, SPEAK, and STAND BACK is a new educational initiative developed to increase safety by helping all trail users understand that horses, as prey animals, can naturally be afraid of unfamiliar people and objects. As a prey animal, horses are equipped to perceive and respond to potential threats with a “flight” survival instinct preferring to move their feet towards an exit route.

The Trails Safe Passing Plan: STOP, SPEAK, and STAND BACK educational PowerPoint presentation is available here and a PDF version of the presentation is available here.

Recognizing that the community of trail users continues to grow at an exponential rate, ELCR joined an unprecedented consortium of advocacy groups, brands, media outlets, and ambassadors that have come together to create the public awareness campaign “Trails are Common Ground (TaCG)” in February 2021. The campaign elevates the importance of respectful, inclusive, safe, and enjoyable experiences on trails. All trail user groups are invited to participate. To learn more about the campaign and how you can support the movement go to

ELCR remains an active member of the coalition participating regularly in coalition meetings along with Back Country Horsemen of America to represent the interest of the equine community. As part of the TaCG initiative, ELCR and Michigan Equestrian Trails Representative, Jenny Cook, have collaborated on the educational initiative Trails Safe Passing Plan: STOP, SPEAK, and STAND BACK to elevate trail safety and the overall shared trail experience.

Special thanks to the Roaring Fork Valley Horse Council (RFVHC) of Aspen and Snowmass, Colorado, for use of STOP, SPEAK, and STAND BACK trail sign. To use this sign for your trails, trailheads and community outreach, contact the RFVHC at

Better understanding of horses as prey animals, and how they perceive and react to their environment, can lead to safer and more enjoyable trail experiences for all!