Novato Fire Crews Rescue Equestrians After Dog Spooks Horses

Novato Fire District board members and the SMART general manager were among the bystanders who helped the two riders who fell from their spooked horses in the Indian Tree Open Space Preserve.


Novato Fire District officials rescued two equestrians Saturday morning after they were thrown from their horses in the Indian Tree Open Space Preserve.

A man in his 70s and woman in her 50s were riding horses on the Big Tree Hiking Trail, roughly one mile from Vineyard Road, when a dog spooked the horses around 10 a.m.  

“Both riders fell of the horses,” said Novato Fire District Battalion Chief Jeff Veliquette.

The female rider was stepped on and the man was knocked unconscious, according to Veliquette. 

There were several bystanders, including Novato Fire District board members Farhad Mansourian and Tomas Kaselionis, who were hiking and first encountered the rider-less horses before finding the injured riders and providing aid until paramedics arrived. Mansourian is also the general manager of SMART. 

Crews arrived on the scene at 10:13 a.m. and had to hike one mile on the trail to the patients. They had the patients hiked out of the trail at 11:02 a.m., Veliquette said. 

The man, who was wearing a helmet and suffered head and facial injuries, was transported to Marin General Hospital and the woman, who complained of abdominal and side pain, was taken to Kaiser in Terra Linda.

Veliquette said the riders keep their horses at the in Novato.

Rosanna Banana August 13, 2012 at 10:11 PM
While no one wants a rider, a hiker, or a dog to get hurt, I'd suggest some of you keep you mouths, and your kids on leashes. Also, keep an eye on your kids and keep them out of the creek and off of private property (Pioneer Park). While you're at it, pick up your garbage and put it in the trash cans. Those of you who don't like dogs, can go walk in circles in a fenced in area or go to Stafford Lake or other parks where dogs are not allowed, while the rest of us responsible dog owners hike and let our dogs get some running and exercise. For those with horses, I'd suggest making sure your horse is trail worthy before attempting the narrow, single track trails that are for sharing with other open space users. I have encountered a couple rude riders on the Indian Trees Trail who somehow expected us to clear the way when there was no room to step aside. Riders need to be able to stop or slow their horse when necessary, allowing time for fellow trail users to find space for you to pass, or feel free to go off trail to get out of our way.
Mark L. Geddings August 14, 2012 at 01:17 AM
Name calling and holier than thou attitudes will do nothing to solve the problem brought to light in this incident, both sides must sit down together and find a proper solution that will help ensure human safety.
Rick Voorhees August 15, 2012 at 05:30 PM
That trail has been used by both people and their Dogs and Horses...It is true that owners should have their dogs under control. It's also true Horse owners need to be able to control their horse as well...If you have a Horse that is skittish around animals in general then you should not be riding it where you will encounter them.. I do feel sorry for what happen, but I do see both sides here..
kathie rothkop August 16, 2012 at 02:00 PM
I live in Novato and ride the wonderful trails that we have available as much as possible. My horse is accustomed to bikes, baby strollers, runners and dogs. As an equestrian it is my responsiblity to desensitize my horse for the safety of myself and other park users. We all deserve the right to experience nature. I have had two encounters with dogs in the last 3 weeks that were dangerous. The first was on Mt. Burdell. I was riding a fireroad when a woman was coming towards me with a her dog on a leash. She walked off the road about 100 ft. and sat down on the hill with the dog. As I got perpendicular to them the dog became extremely agitated, and was lounging at me growling and barking. The woman couldn't hold onto him so she literally flung herself onto the dog to keep him from chasing me. She yelled, "Please don't run! Please get away!" as the dog was stuggling to break free. The next was at Rush Creek. The dog was barking and growling with it's teeth exposed threatening to bite. There was no where to step off the trail to get away from this dog. We finally got around him with his owner literally sitting on the dog to keep him contained. If you know your dog is a threat why take it on the trail? The Marin Humane Society offers training classes and they also have animal behaviorlists that can help an owner with issues. Please let us be responsible pet owners whether it is a horse or dog to make the trail experience an enjoyable safe time for all!
Ruth Powning August 19, 2012 at 03:17 AM
Horses are prey animals and dogs are predators. I have both. I never allow my dog to approach horses, both for his safety and the horses'. Even a desensitized horse cannot control his/her natural prey reaction when a predator approaches aggressively. We have rules for a reason and they should be followed. I hope both riders are on their way to a speedy recovery and I hope the dog owner now has a better understanding of the possible interaction between prey and predator.


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