Equestrians and cyclists are both vulnerable road users. The two groups share similar risks when riding on the road, and both need access to more safe off-road riding.
Cyclists and horse riders have a statutory right to ride on byways, bridleways and roads. On bridleways, it's important that cyclists give way to horse riders (the Countryside Act 1968 gives cyclists the right to use bridleways, but stated that they must give way to horse riders and walkers).
Cycles can startle horses if ridden too close or fast, which can result in injuries to both parties. Nobody wants this, and with awareness and consideration on both sides, incidents can be avoided.
Download recommended practice and advice for horses and cyclists (pdf).
Following the success of the 2012 Olympics, the popularity of cycling has increased dramatically. We have had some reports from horse riders of problems caused by encountering large numbers of cyclists taking part in events.
If you’re concerned about cycling events in your area, download the list of sportives arranged for 2016 (pdf). Please note: this is not an exhaustive list and there may be others planned that this publication has not been made aware of. The list is updated on a regular basis.
Cycling Weekly also have a calendar of similar events.
We hope this will help you stay safe when riding out.
Recumbent Bicycles / Tricycles
These bikes are slowly increasing in popularity and the unusual sight can startle even a well-travelled or ‘bombproof’ horse.
One BHS member, Mary, had a horse who was good in all types of traffic but had never encountered a recumbent before. The strange sight proved too much for him so ‘flight’ kicked in and he spun around, depositing Mary on the road.
Thankfully, in this case, neither human nor the horse was injured in the incident but Mary’s story shows how this kind of cycle can affect horses.
If you experience a cycle-related problem, please report your concerns to us. It will help us to establish the scale of the problem and how we can work with the various related organisations on good practice.