It is well known that our roads are getting busier and busier, making riding horses on the road more and more dangerous. Horse riders have as much right to use the roads as anyone else and should be able to enjoy riding without fear from other road users. According the British Horse Society figures, each year in the UK there are on average about 3000 accidents involving horses, resulting in a number of fatalaties and injuries to riders. If you ride your horse on the road, make sure you stay safe; dont be another statistic.
See below the Highway Codes laws and recommendations for riding on the road:
- Children under the age of 14 must wear a riding hat fastened securely that complies with current standards – [Laws H(PHYR) Act 1990, sect 1 & H(PHYR) Regulations 1992, reg 3] – The British Horse Societys current recommendations are PAS 015, ASTM F1163, BSEN 1384, EN1384 and SNELL E2001.
- You must not take your horse onto a footpath, pavement or cycle track – [Laws HA 1835 sect 72, R(S)A 1984, sect 129(5)].
- All horse riders should wear a riding hat fastened securely that complies with current standards – The British Horse Societys current recommendations are PAS 015, ASTM F1163, BSEN 1384, EN1384 and SNELL E2001.
- You should wear boots/shoes with hard soles and heels, light coloured or fluorescent clothing in daylight, and reflective clothing if you have to ride at night or in poor visibility.
- Do not ride at night time, but if you do you should wear reflective clothing and your horse should wear reflective bands above the fetlocks, and a light which shows white to the front and red to the rear should be worn on your arm and/or leg.
- Ensure all tack fits well and is in good condition and never ride without a saddle and bridle.
- Ensure you are able to control your horse.
- Before riding off or turning, look behind you to make sure it is safe, then give a clear arm signal.
- When riding on the road you should keep to the left, keep both hands on the reins unless you are signalling, and keep both feet in the stirrups.
- You should not carry another person or anything which might affect your balance or get tangled up with the reins.
- If riding on a one-way road, move in the direction of the traffic.
- Never ride more than two abreast, and ride in single file on narrow or busy roads and when riding round bends.
- Avoid roundabouts, but if you have to, keep left and signal right when riding across an exit to show you are not exiting, and signal left just before exiting a roundabout.
- When leading a horse on the road, keep the horse on your left.
For detailed information on all the laws and recommendations for horse riders in the Highway Code visit: www.direct.gov.uk/en/TravelAndTransport/Highwaycode/DG_069853
When riding on the road, even during the daytime, both you and your horse should wear as much fluorescent clothing as possible. It has been proven to give motorists a few more seconds to register you are there, those few seconds could just be enough to prevent an accident and even save your life.
As a minimum your fluorescent wardrobe should include a tabard/vest or jacket and a hat band, your horse should wear bands around its legs and if possible an exercise sheet or a tail guard. All of this ensures you are visible to vehicles both from the front, both sides, and from behind.
The range of fluorescent riding wear and horse wear available is extensive these days, so there is no excuse not be seen. As well as those already mentioned, other fluorescent items include martingales, bridle attachments, tail bandages, boots and leg bandages, fly masks, numnahs, light attachments, and much more.
Dont ride on the road in bad weather or at night time – it’s just too dangerous!
Always take the trouble to thank drivers who slow down and give you a wide berth the more courteous you are to your fellow road users, the more considerate they are likely to be to you and other horse riders.
You might want to consider going on a road safety course. The British Horse Society run a Riding and Road Safety Test; this educates riders about road safety in order to minimise the risks involved when riding on the roads. The test is available to all riders from 12 years of age and is supported by the Department for Transport. According to the BHS, it is the only test that any rider will undertake that has the potential to save not only their own life but that of their horse and other road users as well.
The test is designed to test the riders roadcraft and riding ability, and involves a theory test, a simulated road route and a road route. The theory test tests the riders knowledge of the Highway Code, BHS Riding and Roadcraft Manual and generally accepted rules of riding on the road. The simulated road route takes place off road in an enclosed area to test the riders ability to ride appropriately on the road, and includes observations, signalling, manoeuvring and negotiating a set of hazards. This part also involves a tack and turnout safety inspection. Assuming you pass these first two phases, you will then go on to the road route test which takes place on the road and tests your ability in dealing with vehicles and other hazards.
For further information about the Riding and Road Safety Test, visit the BHS website: http://www.bhs.org.uk/education.aspx
Reporting of Equestrian Incidents
The British Horse Society’s www.horseaccidents.org.uk website is dedicated to the reporting of equestrian incidents, which also offers extensive advice on road safety and the prevention of accidents. There are no specific records of accidents relating to horses by road authorities and emergency services, so this website was set up to collate this type of data centrally.
The website was launched for the public to record everything from dog attacks and road traffic accidents, to incidents involving low-flying aircraft. The data will be used to lobby for better riding conditions. The BHS will be adding its own archived records to compare the number, location and type of incidents each year. You will be able to view incidents reported to the BHS and spot any problems in your area. If you or your horse has been involved in an equine related incident then the BHS want to hear about it.
The British Equestrian ID Services (BEIDS) and Ride-Alert safety systems
These safety systems are a must if you ride on the road on a regular basis. The systems consist of ID Wristbands and ID Hat Badges for horse riders and ID Toggles for horses, all of which, in the event of an emergency, can prove invaluable. Those first on the scene of an incident will see the visible Wristband, Hat Badge or Toggle and call the 24/7 Emergency Response Team using the telephone number clearly displayed on them. The Emergency Response Team will request the member Emergency ID number, also displayed on them, to identify you or the horse; they will then relay the appropriate information to those at the scene. The Emergency Response Team records any relevant information and contacts the family and/or next-of-kin, to inform them of the situation.
The services allows you to provide as much or as little personal information as you like and your information is stored and managed securely online and only read out over the phone by the Emergency Response Team in the event of an emergency.
The Wristbands are fully adjustable and removable, and are made from soft PVC for durability and comfort. The Toggles are also made from soft PVC and come with an industrial strength fixing band so you can attach it to your horses saddle, bridle or rug.