The British Horse Society says the unfortunate incident that led to the conviction of Jessica Mills for throwing her whip at a passing vehicle highlights the importance for all road users to be considerate to each other’s needs.
The charity believes that it is important for horse riders and motorists to better understand the concerns and requirements of each other, and for all road users to work together in order to improve safety.
With more than 76,000 members, The British Horse Society is the UK’s largest organisation for horse enthusiasts. It has been inundated over the past few days with messages from members voicing concerns and sharing their own frightening experiences on the road.
Sheila Hardy, Senior Executive (Safety) at the BHS, said: “This latest case highlights perfectly the importance for all road users to work together, using our roads in harmony to ensure safety for all. There is room for everyone on our roads, but it is vital that all users show a little courtesy and consideration to others.”
The BHS urges drivers to remember that horses on the road can be unpredictable, despite the best efforts of even the most experienced rider. Drivers should always treat horses as a potential hazard and drive slowly, with caution, around them.
Key points for drivers to remember are:
• When passing horses, leave as much room as the road allows and do not accelerate either when passing the horse or immediately after, as this could cause the horse to panic.
• Take even greater care on narrow country lanes by keeping your speed down, especially on bends.
• Be alert when encountering a horse rider and take heed of any signals the rider is making to slow down or stop, as they may be able to see something that you cannot and will feel how the horse may react.
• It's sometimes necessary for riders to be two abreast on the road. One may be a young or novice horse or rider and so it is safer for these animals to be on the inside with a more experienced horse and rider on the outside.
It's not just drivers who have responsibility for safety on the road - riders are encouraged to stay alert and ensure they cause as little inconvenience to drivers as possible.
Sheila Hardy advises: “The British Horse Society educates horse riders on road safety and what they can do to protect themselves and their horses on the road.
“We would stress the importance of riders wearing hi-viz garments that meet the recommended safety standards EN1150 or EN471 – giving drivers precious additional seconds in order to see them – and to always be extra courteous to drivers who pass them with care.”
The Society also offers a website dedicated to the reporting of road accidents and other incidents involving horses, horseaccidents.org.uk, which provides further information on road safety.