The British Horse Society (BHS) has published the results of research to determine the effect of self-closing gates on horse riders.
The research was a response to an increasing number of reports that riders and horses had been harmed by such gates.
The trial demonstrates that self-closing bridle gates are neither as safe nor as easy to use for horse riders as British Standard 5709:2006 compliant non-self-closing gates.
The trial, which took place in Kent in 2011, saw experienced riders attempt a series of self-closing gates and a horse-friendly vehicle barrier to test the reliability, safety and ease of use.
Heather Clatworthy, BHS Senior Executive (Access), said: “There was no published research on the effects of self-closing gates on riders, their horses and horse riding. There have been some terrible injuries to both horse and riders caused by self-closing gates. The trial of these gates demonstrates that self-closing gates are inherently neither as safe nor as easy for horse riders as British Standard 5709:2006 compliant non-self-closing gates and following the principle of the least restrictive option should not be used routinely on public rights of way or other land with statutory equestrian access.”
An accident with a gate can deter horse and rider from using a route, and other riders may then also stay away, essentially obstructing the route for equestrian use.
At the official launch of the findings, representatives from Natural England, Defra, Centrewire, British Standards and local authorities were present. They all welcomed the research and are working with the BHS to improve the safety of self-closing gates for the benefit of equestrians nationally.
A copy of the findings can be viewed here.