Here is our helpful guide on road safety to help horse riders and motorists to be more aware and safer on the roads.
Top Tips for Horse Riders
Ride off-road wherever possible – Make use of bridleways and byways if you can. Unfortunately this is not always possible and riding on the road is sometimes necessary. If this is the case, try to stick to smaller, quieter roads. Avoid built-up areas, main roads and dangerous road crossings.
Don’t ride out in poor visibility – Avoid riding at dusk or after dark whenever possible. Motorists will probably not expect you to be on the road after dark and may not spot the difference between a car and a horse until it is too late. Also, remember that visibility is greatly reduced in fog, and in wet conditions a car may take much longer to stop than on dry roads.
Wear high-visibility clothing – Wear high-visibility clothing even on bright and clear days. Hat covers and tabards are great, and you can kit your horse out in reflective gear to ensure it can be seen by others if you fall off or it gets loose. This is important because motorists will be able to see you and your horse from much further away.
Be in control – Only ride out on roads once you are certain your horse is ready to do so and you feel confident enough to be able to control them. If you are training your horse or have to ride out on a horse that is traffic-shy, make sure you are accompanied by another rider on a quiet horse which is used to traffic. This will help your own horse gain confidence on the roads.
Check your equipment – Check your horse’s tack and equipment for signs of wear and tear before every ride and make sure your horse is regularly and properly shod. If your tack fails while you are on the road, the consequences could be very serious. Similarly, if your horse’s shoes and hooves are not kept in good condition, it is at higher risk of slipping or tripping on roads.
Give clear signals and pay attention – Make sure you know how to give proper hand signals and give other road users plenty of time to prepare. Keep both hands on the reins at all times when not signalling. Always concentrate on the road and what other road users are doing. Spotting hazards early can often avoid accidents all together.
Get insured – You must invest in adequate insurance if you do not already have it; if you do, check it is still valid. Third-party cover is the absolute minimum you need, but it is wise to get the best level of cover you can afford.
Take your test – To feel confident that your conduct and competence is as it should be while riding on roads, find out more about the British Horse Society’s Ride Safe Award.
Know the Highway Code – Just as motorists are expected to learn the Highway Code, horse riders should familiarise themselves with its rules too. As well as learning more about best practice on the roads as a horse rider, it will also give you a better understanding of how motorists are expected to treat you.
Always be polite – It is important to remember to be polite to courteous drivers at all times.
Top Tips for Motorists
Be observant – Watch out for horses being led, ridden or driven on the road especially in rural areas.
Pass wide and slow – Horses can be unpredictable and spook easily, so make sure you give them lots of room when passing. Keep your speed slow and prepare to stop if necessary.
Keep noise to a minimum – Do not sound your horn or rev your engine. Horses are easily scared by noise and may panic around fast moving vehicles.
Pay special attention on narrow roads and bends – Take extra care and keep your speed down at all bends and on narrow country roads. Think whether you could stop in time if there was a horse around the corner.
Know the Highway Code – Watch out for horse riders’ signals and heed requests to slow down or stop. There are many rules riders follow and signals they use to indicate their actions or to communicate with drivers so it is important to be aware of these. For example:
- When turning right horse riders keep to the left of the road as it is unsafe for them to position a horse between lines of traffic.
- On a roundabout horse riders will normally signal right only when approaching exits they are not taking. Horse riders will keep to the left within the roundabout until reaching their exit, when they signal left.
- For safety, riders may ride in double file when escorting a young or inexperienced horse rider.