Safe Horse Riding on Roads January 28 2014

As a road user, you know the problems that our often overcrowded roads face - increased traffic, narrow roads, potholes, cyclists and pedestrians to name but a few - so when riding, think of yourself as part of that mix.  At this time of year, when days can be dull or foggy, visibility is very important.  You should wear high vis gear - jacket and hat band for example - and your horse should wear it too.  He needs fluorescent leg wraps around his legs, which is the most visible part of him, and a hi vis nose band which will enable cars to spot him in the dim light.  

Try to avoid going out in poor light conditions or when it is very wet or icy. Ride in single file so that cars can go past you, giving you a wide berth. If you have to ride two abreast, then slow to a walk so that cars can give you extra space.  Never go out on the road with more than eight horses and riders.  Carry a mobile with you, for emergency use only.  Make sure that when a car approaches, you make eye contact so that the driver knows that you are aware of his presence.  If you want to pull off the road, to enable a car to pass, use hand signals.  Always show courtesy - the driver appreciates it.  What you must remember is that some drivers may be unsure of how a horse may react in traffic and overtaking can be just as worrying for the driver as it is for the horse being overtaken!

As a horse rider who also drives, you will know that horses are "flight" animals  and tend to run when they are scared and perceive danger.  A revving engine, sudden movement, barking dogs inside your car, splashing puddles - all these can upset some horses. So watch out for the horse rider's signals as he knows that his horse is fearful and need you, the car driver, to stop.  When driving in the country, be aware that around the next bend could be a string of horses and riders who have as much right to use the road as you have.  When going past the horse and rider, give at least a small car's width of room between your car and the horse and when approaching the horse, keep one and half car lengths away, until the rider has acknowledged you and signalled that it is safe to pass.

Finally, when the horse rider thanks you, nod your thanks in reply for together you have both made the road safe for each other.

Looking for some excellent hi vis gear for your child?  The Aspey Winter jacket has won the award two years running for best hi vis.  Bitz boot light which is a dual lamp and can be strapped to your boot.  You can also have a LED flashing hatband  which will stick on your riding hat.  For your horse, a high visibility nose/brow/rein band will alert the oncoming driver.  Meanwhile, fit hi-visibility leg boots so that a driver coming behind can see you.

These are just a few of the items that can be purchased at Mane Supplies to make you and your horse safer.