In part two, the topic was the process of deciding how and when to run like hell.
Sometimes, however, you gotta Stand Up and Fight Back.
That's when I learned to help people think about crisis in terms of the unlikely. Apparently, thinking about the Zombie Apocalypse allows people to make better planning decisions. Who knew?
So, in the interest of rational thinking, let's explore the defense possibilities needed during the ZA.
You need a safe place. Your house can be it, if you're there when the Bad Stuff begins. Do you have supplies to ride out a siege? (see the post about hunkering down) Food, water, medications, clothing, a good book?
Now, if the zombies are coming to your safe place, how do you intend to defend it?
Door locks? Those are good, especially if you actually lock them (we don't, often).
Got a perimeter fence? Those are also good for keeping your dogs and horses off the road, so if you've got that, give yourself a star.
Got a weapon?
At this point, a lot of people want to get a gun. My experience is that guns, in the hands of people who don't use them often are more of a liability than an asset. (hunters and soldiers generally practice the use of their guns often; librarians and computer systems administrators, not so much), You are best off with a weapon that you use all the time, something that your body is completely comfortable with handling.
If you're more of a homebody, look around at the stuff you use everyday.
I once got into an (absurd) arguement with an employer who was trying to implement an intentionally-vague "no weapons in the workplace" policy. The employer wanted to make sure I didn't have a weapon in my truck in the parking lot. I did, of course--you need a tire iron if you get a flat tire, and I was driving on low-budget tires. I could put a big dent in a zombie with a tire iron, or better yet, a jackstand! The employer also wanted to make sure that I didn't have a knife in my desk. I did, of course--a nice sharp 4-inch metal blade embossed with the employer's logo. This particular blade was designed for opening envelopes, but don't you think I could hack off a nice chunk of zombie with it?
The punchline, of course, is that the workplace--a library--is filled with heavy rectangular items, also known as books. If you hit a zombie upside the head with a solid hardback copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, I guarantee that you'll gain a nice headstart towards the exit before Mr Zombie is ready to shamble forward again.
Now you're at a ridecamp. What have you got to defend yourself?
In my camper, the books are all paperbacks--not much good. I do have a nice #10 iron skillet in the galley, though. I could surely slow down some undeadness with that. What else is in there? Canned food. Diet soda (shake and spray!). Ice boots? Hmmm.
In the horse trailer is a bunch of rope, a pair of scissors, a manure fork, and the trailerhitch spring bar. Those can all be useful. Heck, if I look around I can probably find a fair amount of manure--an excellent emergency projectile weapon! Gravel is also always good. If you anticipate zombie trouble, why not stash a few rocks in your pockets?
Get the idea?
Okay. Now you're out on the trail. What have you got?
(I'll give you a hint: four hooves)
I don't mean that you should teach your horse to execute war-manuevers (although it would be cool if you do).
|(not my horse, not my photo)|
Even if your horse is normally polite to strangers (mine is, barely), you can stay in the saddle and swing MyLittlePony's butt directly into the body of someone who invades your space in a hostile manner. By doing this or something similar, you can knock a zombie off-balance hard enough to stop the forward lurch for a few vital seconds--enough time for you to leave.
DO NOT DO THIS TO A BEAR! Bears have weapons all over their bodies. Back slowly away from a bear making loud but non-agressive noises (singing is good). Get well away from a bear before using the spurs on your noble steed--bears will chase if you run.
DO NOT DO THIS TO A COUGAR! Cougars will mostly leave rather than attack a person on horseback. Stay mounted, talk loudly, give the cat an escape route while preserving your own escape route.
If there's a creepy person on the trail
stay mounted, make eye contact, keep your escape route open, use that pony's butt if you need to (but maintain a long distance if you can), communicate with your riding partners, and keep moving.
BTW: most badguys can't shoot the broadside of a barn from inside the barn, and zombies have notoriously bad aim.
In the "run like hell" post, Endurance Granny posted a comment about an incident where she and her horse met a person on the trail. EG was feeling small and vulnerable, and wished for a gun to defend herself. If the incident had ended badly, I would never be so impolite as to second-guess EG's actions; however, since EG obviously survived the encounter, I'm going to play devil's advocate and examine it a bit more closely:
I came upon a solitary "man" out there. At five foot two inches, and the cardiovascular fitness of a snail...that is a very BAD feeling. The one time it happened that I was very bugged I was heading towards the person.
Let's assume for the sake of practice that the "man" was probably a zombie. EG's gut feeling told her that something was wrong with the situation, and also the guy lurched around a lot, he smelled like rotting meat, and when EG made eye-contact with him and said "Good morning!" in a loud clear voice to allow him to know that she knew he was there, he only responded with the word "bra-a-a-ainnnnnnns."
It made me very glad that Phebes was good at leg yielding. I put her up into her power trot, applied some leg and zoomed on past on the other side of the trail. There are times out there that I wish I had a permit to carry (paranoid as that may sound), I'd feel safer.
Without picking on EG, I'd like the class to imagine a similar situation (or remember a similar situation if you've ever been in one), and think about the following:
1. Is there a reason that you need to risk life and limb by continuing to ride forward into the grab-range of a zombie? Why not, instead, execute a swift turn on the haunches, and go back the way you came? Or get off the trail entirely and get far away, quickly? Not very many humans or zombies can keep up with a horse when you move out across country. Rather than move closer to a potential threat, turn tail and take a different route!
2. How would a gun have helped in this situation, unless EG practiced not only carrying her gun but also shooting it with some degree of accuracy at a lurching target from the back of a moving vehicle (in this case, her horse)? Also, unless EG practiced shooting her gun from Phoebe's back on a regular basis, would she not be risking a major horse spook-and-dump-your-butt-and-leave-you-for-zombiebait manuever? A gun might be a nice visual deterrent, but if you fall off your horse while waving it around, you won't be happy.
As I said earlier in this post, your best choice of weapons is usually a tool that you can use without thinking about it at all, something that feels comfortable in your hand because it spends a lot of time in your hand under non-emergency circumstances. If you don't want to use your horse's butt as a weapon, how about your riding crop? Or your gatorade bottle--you could squirt the contents or throw the bottle--versatility! Using the bottle has the added advantage of keeping you out of zombie grab-range as well. What else have you got in your pockets or saddlebags that you can use?
Be creative and think about it. Put your best ideas in the comments for others to share.
I've been riding trails for a dozen years and thousands of miles. Do I stay out of trouble because there is no trouble out there? Or because I'm ready in advance to avoid it?
Be ready, stay safe, and ride those ponies!