Although some people may not think horse riders have a right to use the road, they do! Both motorists and horse riders have a responsibility to use the roads safely and consider each others’ needs. By following some basic advice and the highway code, drivers and riders can help avoid accidents involving horses on the road. Road safety is key for enjoying your riding experience!
Advice for motorists
- Slow down and be ready to stop if necessary.
- Look out for riders’ signals to slow down or stop.
- Watch out for sudden movements, horses can be easily frightened and unpredictable.
- Don’t sound your horn or rev your engine.
- Pass wide and slow when overtaking; giving the horse plenty of room. Don’t accelerate rapidly once you have passed them.
- On roundabouts, horse riders will keep to the left within the roundabout until reaching their exit, when they will signal left. They will normally signal right only when approaching exits they don’t intend to use.
- Take extra care in country roads and lanes as this is where you are more likely to come across horses.
- Always check yourself if it is clear to overtake.
- Always display fluorescent/reflective clothing on both horse and rider whatever the weather or light conditions – preferably at least two different colours that conform to BS EN1150 or BS EN471.
- If at all avoidable, don’t ride in failing light, fog or darkness. Avoid icy or snowy roads.
- Try to ride at quieter road times, not in rush hour.
- If riding a horse that is not used to roads, ask a rider with a horse who is experienced and calm to accompany you.
- Never take a mounted group of more than eight horses on the road.
- If riding two abreast, move into single file as soon as it is safe for the motorist to overtake. Don’t ride more than two abreast on the road. ALWAYS leave the motorist to decide if safe to overtake. DO NOT wave cars past, if accident happens you will be held liable.
- Always cross major crossings in a group, rather than trickling across one by one.
- Leave details of your intended route and estimated time of return with a responsible person.
- Wear accessible contact information on both you and the horse in case of separation.
- Ensure correct safety equipment is worn at all times.
- Know your highway code – take a look https://www.gov.uk/rules-about-animals-47-to-58/horse-riders-49-to-55
- Say thank you to respectful motorists, if safe to do so. This will ensure they are more likely to slow down next time they pass a horse.
What to do if an accident occurs
* Assess the situation -> decide if anyone is injured, has damage been caused and has an animal been involved. Secure any panicked animals to prevent further accidents.
* If the answer is yes -> You are legally required to remain at the scene and provide contact details to someone who has reasonable grounds to request them. Always call the emergency services if people are injured, on 999.
* All accidents must be reported in person to the Police -> ideally within 24 hours of the event, if they are not present at scene, take your insurance certificate with you when reporting the accident.
* Photographs can be taken of the scene -> do not breach any laws while using a camera.
* Law of negligence will apply to horse riders if their horse causes damage -> they also have a legal duty of care to other road users.