A horse weighs an average of 500kg and can reach speeds of up to 30mph in a matter of seconds. If they have cause for alarm, horses can cause great amounts of damage.
As a driver, you may not consider how passing a horse too closely or at great speed could affect you. But the impact of a collision can not only cause the horse to be injured, but it can also cause serious injury to the rider or carriage driver, driver, and any passenger in the vehicle
Horses are flight animals – their instinctive response to danger is to react and move quickly away. Even the most experienced and well-trained horse can be startled by unexpected movements or loud noises, like a car passing at great speed.
Equestrians would prefer to stay off the roads, but this isn’t always possible due to the shrinking bridleway network. So, the British Horse Society is encouraging all road users to work together to keep everyone safe on our roads.
This starts with understanding, and following, the guidance set out in the Highway Code. The rules for passing equestrians were recently updated to align with the British Horse Society’s Dead Slow campaign messages.
Drivers are advised to pass people riding horses or driving horse-drawn vehicles at a reduced speed (10mph), and must allow at least 2 metres (6.5 feet) of space. Along with these new guidelines, the British Horse Society is urging drivers to drive slowly away and be patient – this includes avoiding using the horn or revving the engine.
Taking all these steps will play a critical role in increasing the safety of horses, their riders, and drivers.
Even the most experienced and well-trained horse can be startled by unexpected movements or loud noises, like a car passing at great speed.
The British Horse Society is also offering clear guidance for equestrians to follow when out on the roads with their horse. It recommends wearing his-vis and reflective equipment and using appropriate hand signals to make other road users aware of intentions to manoeuvre.
Crashes or other incidents involving horses can be life-changing for drives, equestrians, and horses. By working collaboratively, we can stop unnecessary incidents from happening on our roads.
Whether you’re behind the wheel or holding the reins, we all have a part to play to keep everyone safe on the roads.
For further advice on how to pass horses safely, go to British Horse Society | Advice for motorists
If you’d like to learn more about The British Horse Society’s work to make the world safer for horses and equestrians, or to report a road related incident, go to British Horse Society | Dead Slow
Hattie Thompson of the British Horse Society wrote this blog for Road Safety Week 2023. To find out more and get involved, sign up here.