With a medium-sized horse weighing an average 500kg and able to reach a very high speed, they can cause catastrophic damage to a vehicle if they have cause for alarm.
The equine charity are striving to raise awareness of this power and the impact a collision with a horse can have on not just the animals themselves, but also the horse rider or carriage driver, the motorist and any passenger in their vehicle.
Alan Hiscox, Director of Safety at The British Horse Society says: “Horses are flight animals, and their instinctive response to danger is to react and move very quickly. Even the most experienced and well-trained horse can be startled by unexpected movements or loud noises, just like a human.
Understandably, a driver passing at great speed can be a cause for alarm. That is why it is so important for drivers to consider the true power of horses, and to pass horses slowly and with plenty of room, if everyone is to remain safe.”
In 2022, the BHS reported that 82% of road incidents involving horses occurred because a vehicle passed by too closely to the horse and 78% occurred because a vehicle passed by too quickly.
To reduce the rate of these incidents, which very often can heavily impact all parties involved, the BHS is working with other road safety user groups to drive awareness of the guidelines set out in the Highway Code for passing equestrians, which were recently updated to align with the equine charity’s Dead Slow campaign messages.
Alan adds: “Last year, the Highway Code stated the advisory speed at which to pass ridden horses or horse-drawn vehicles was a maximum of 10mph, and drivers should now allow at least 2 metres (6.5 feet) of space. Taking these steps will make a difference, as well as increase the safety of horses and their riders.
Horse riders would prefer to stay off the roads, but unfortunately this isn’t always possible due to the shrinking bridleway network. So, we are extremely grateful to all those who continue to follow this guidance set for passing equestrians. It really is important if we want to stop these tragic and unnecessary incidents from occurring on our roads.”
The BHS also offers clear advice for equestrians to follow when out on the roads with their horse, including wearing his-vis and reflective equipment as well as using the appropriate hand signals to make other road users aware of their intentions to manoeuvre.
For further advice on passing equestrians, please visit: www.bhs.org.uk/go-riding/riding-out-hacking/riding-on-roads/advice-for-motorists
To learn more about the BHS and the work they do to improve equestrian road safety, visit: bhs.org.uk/deadslow
Notes to editors
Contact: The British Horse Society Press Office
T: 02476 840521
The British Horse Society:
As the largest equine charity in the UK, The British Horse Society is dedicated to education, equine welfare, protecting and increasing access to bridleways and places to ride and carriage drive off road, and safety for horse and riders. The Society’s thriving and active community of staff and volunteers is committed to improving the lives of horses everywhere.