Skip to content
back to home

Responding to emergency vehicles as horse riders

When responding to an emergency call, the emergency services aim to get to the incident as quickly and safely as possible.

Minutes can mean the difference between life and death. We’re pleased to have collaborated with the South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) on this expert advice about responding to emergency vehicles in a safe manner.

How can you, as a horse rider, assist an emergency vehicle?

If you hear sirens in the distance, anticipate that there might be an emergency vehicle approaching.

What you should do if the emergency vehicle approaches:

  • Move as far to the left as possible
  • Pull off the road into a lay-by/other off-road area if safe to do so (please remain visible)
  • If possible, bring the horse to a halt so the vehicle can safely pass quicker
  • Don’t panic – your horse will pick up your feelings
  • Don’t put yourself in danger – the vehicle will work around you
  • Thank the driver with a smile and/or wave

Remember – ambulances and fire engines are large vehicles and need more space to pass a horse safely. Moving to the left creates a greater margin of safety should the horse become spooked by the presence of the emergency vehicle.

How will emergency vehicles deal with horse riders?

The SCAS are reminding riders that emergency response drivers are trained to a very high standard and will look well ahead to identify hazards as early as possible. They’re trained to anticipate the presence of hazards specific to the driving environment so in rural areas they’ll anticipate the presence of animals.

What the emergency response drivers will do if they see a horse rider:

  • Turn off their sirens (if activated) to avoid startling the horse
  • Reduce their speed accordingly
  • They’ll consider turning off their flashing blue lights (if they feel it would adversely affect the horse’s behaviour)
  • They’ll look to pass the horse rider slowly, providing as much space as possible
  • They won’t increase their speed or activate sirens until they’re clear of the horse and it’s safe to do so
  • If it isn’t safe to overtake, the driver will follow at a safe distance until it’s safe to pass

For more information visit the South Central Ambulance Service website.