Here at Prime Stables, we know that road safety is essential for the protection of riders and their horses on the roads. Horses can be unpredictable and it can be easy to lose control or cause an accident. Knowledge of road safety is essential for all riders, so I have written this article to inform you of the top road safety tips. Read on to find out more!
Road position is extremely important to keep you and your horse safe. It is always recommended that riders should ride on the left-hand side of the road near the kerb, never riding more than two abreast. It is appropriate to ride two abreast when accompanying a more inexperienced horse, or a young rider. In this scenario, it is best that the more experienced horse is nearest to the centre of the road to avoid the younger, inexperienced horse being spooked by the traffic.
When riding in groups, there should always be a gap of a horse’s length between each horse being ridden behind the other. Be sure to never ride your horse on public footpaths as this causes danger to your horse, pedestrians and yourself.
When riding on the road, it is important to always be on the lookout for hazards. You must be regularly aware of the traffic behind and in front of you, continually looking and listening for any hazards which may alarm your horse. Hazards that can be avoided, such as load road works, a traffic accident or a group of motorcyclists, should be if possible. Do not expose your horse to any loud, startling noises as this may frighten him and cause him to spook.
If you come across a hazard that cannot be avoided, be thorough in your road safety checks to ensure the comfortability of you horse and yourself. If approaching a hazard, such as a parked car, which requires the horse to be moved towards the centre of the road, always check ahead and behind for approaching traffic preparing to stop and wait if necessary before proceeding to pass.
If you are approaching a noisy hazard, take it slow and reassure your horse so that he knows he is safe. If riding in a group, let the most confident horse lead. If your horse is simply too frightened, your best option is to avoid the hazard altogether by taking a detour.
It is essential, when riding on the road, that you use signals to clearly indicate your intentions to other drivers. Additional signals may sometimes be required to alert others that you are having problems with your horse, for example. Riders are encouraged to acknowledge the patience of drivers who take extra care whilst passing them by raising a hand in thanks. However, there are sometimes situations where it is unsafe to remove your hands from the reins (such as when riding a young, inexperienced horse). In this situation, a simple nod of the head is advised.
Turning at Junctions
Turning at junctions requires extra care, attention and signalling. Riders should always keep to the left of the road when approaching a junction and intending to turn right. Before approaching a junction, always check for traffic and clearly signal your intention of turning. Always be alert for potential hazards at junctions and be prepared to stop before turning if necessary.
Young Riders on the Road
Young riders, particularly under 10 years of age, should always be accompanied by an experienced adult rider when using the public highway. It is a well-known fact that many young and inexperienced riders have problems controlling their horses and will need companionship on their rides to ensure safety. Never allow a young or inexperienced rider on the road by themselves until you are completely satisfied that they are equipped to deal with any eventuality.
All riders on the road, no matter age or level of skill, are required to conform to safety wear standards by wearing hi-visibility clothing, such as a tabard or jacket. Even on clear sunny days, hi-visibility clothing can make it easier for drivers to spot a horse and rider from further away, allowing them to slow down in plenty of time.
Road Safety Test
If you are thinking about riding your horse on the road, I would highly recommend that you undertake a road safety test to ensure you are fully equipped to deal with any eventuality. The British Horse Society (BHS) operate a Riding and Road Safety Test that will fully educate you on road safety and many riding schools also carry out training days to equip you as well.
However, whether you have ridden on the road before or not, I would strongly advise completing a road safety test to ensure the protection of your horse and yourself while out riding.
I hope you have found this article useful and that it has effectively informed you of road safety for horse riders. If you have any questions, or points you would like further information on, give us a call today. Our friendly team, here at Prime Stables, are always available to help.