This Sunday (March 24) is National Equestrian Safety Day and Cambridgeshire police is raising awareness to make sure the county’s horse riders, motorists and cyclists stay safe on the roads this year.
Over the last year there have been more than 800 road safety incidents involving horses reported to the British Horse Society and, in reality, police believe this figure could be much higher. Since 2009, more than 300 horses and 40 riders have been killed on UK roads.
A few small tweaks from riders, drivers and other road users can dramatically lower that figure.
PC Jon Morris, casualty reduction officer at Cambridgeshire Constabulary, said: “Horses can be startled by many things, noise, ﬂapping objects, dogs barking, a bike speeding up behind them or a vehicle splashing through a puddle.
“These things can make a horse more difficult to control and cause it to ‘shy’ suddenly, possibly into the path of trafﬁc.
“We’re encouraging all road users to make the roads safer for everyone by sharing the roads safely and look out for one another.”
Police, with help from The British Horse Society, have put together tips for riders and drivers to help keep everyone safe:
. Rein it in, your speed that is. 30mph might seem slow to you, but it’s still pretty speedy to a horse and his rider. 15mph is ideal, and remember to pass as wide as possible
. Try not to rev your engine as horses can be easily spooked by excessively loud noises and things approaching behind them
. Just because you’ve passed a horse and rider doesn’t mean you can hoof it. Doing this may spook the horse
. Look out for the rider’s signals and always take notice of a request to slow down or stop.
. You might not be going at the speed of a car but it’s still a good idea to slow down so as not to spook the horse. It also gives you more time to react
. Just like a car pass as widely as possible so that the horse is able to see you coming and there’s space between you
. If possible alert the rider that you are approaching before you get too close (if you are approaching from behind). This will give them time to reassure their horse
. If you’re cycling along in a bunched up group or peloton, try to disburse a little so you’re less intimidating.
. Be safe, be seen! Even on a bright day, hi-vis gear for you and your horse makes you more visible to other road users and prevents you from blending into the scenery
. Always be polite and show courtesy to considerate drivers. It will help to win over any ‘neighsayers’ who object to slowing down
. Avoid riding on the roads in bad weather conditions as surfaces can be slippery and you are less visible
. Know your hand signals and use them wherever possible.
For more information on road safety, visit https://www.cambs.police.uk/information-and-services/Road-safety/Op-velo, and for more on riding on the roads, visit https://www.bhs.org.uk/our-work/safety/our-work/dead-slow.