Most horse riders will need to ride on the road at some point, whether it’s to reach an off-road route or to connect one bridleway to another. And, whilst there are lots of steps motorists (and other road uses) can take to help keep you and your horse safe, there’s also advice we’d encourage equestrians to follow to maximise safety.
Here are some helpful tips and advice from Alan Hiscox, Director of Safety at The British Horse Society (BHS), for horse riders when heading out:
- Familiarise yourself with the Highway Code – ensure you follow the Highway Code’s guidance on how you should behave on the road and interact with other road users. It’s important to know about your rights and responsibilities while riding on rural roads
- Be alert at all times – make eye contact with drivers and thank those who make any effort to accommodate you. Treat others as you wish to be treated yourself
- Be seen – always kit yourself and your horse out in hi-vis, reflective clothing and equipment, regardless of whether you ride on or off the road, the time of day, season or weather conditions. The BHS recommend a minimum of a tabard or jacket for a rider, and leg bands for the horse. Wearing hi-vis when you’re using the road can give other road users extra time to react, which could save the life of both yourself and your horse
- Know your signals – using signals when riding on the road helps to make sure other road users know what you intend to do. This is especially important when approaching junctions, passing a hazard or turning off
- Share your schedule – always let someone know where you are going and what time you expect to be back, so they can raise the alarm should you fail to return within a reasonable time. You can also ‘Share My Location’ if you have a smartphone for extra security
- Carry a mobile phone – this will enable you to call for help should the need arise, as well provide access to maps. The app “what3words” can help pinpoint your location in the case of an emergency. And don’t forget, although tempting to check your phone for calls and messages, using your mobile phone whilst riding is illegal and also very dangerous.