Rural Road Safety Advice for Horse Riders
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. The Highway Code changes, which includes a reduction in the advisory passing speed from 15mph to 10mph and a repositioning of horses alongside cyclists in the Hierarchy of Road Users, offers clear guidance to all road users to help keep equestrians safe.
Advice is also available for horse riders to follow to maximise the safety of their horse. 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 an 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, clearly visible 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 you 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 the road.
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 as providing 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 very dangerous.
Equine charity, The British Horse Society is dedicated to making the world safer for all horses, and those who love them. To learn more about how to stay safe while out and about, you can complete the BHS Ride Safe Award. It helps gives riders the confidence to ride in the environments they are most often faced with, including on the road, keeping themselves and their horse safe.
The charity is also urging equestrians to log any incidents they experience on the roads using the Horse i app. The more incidents that are logged, the more the BHS can do to protect the rights of horse riders on Britain’s roads.