Alan Hiscox, Director of Safety at The British Horse Society
Summer might be slowly drawing to a close but there are hopefully still a few good days left to get out for a hack. While going off road can be safer than being on roads there are always some risks attached with riding. Being prepared can help minimise these.
Before going out it is important to be up to date with the Highway Code. Many of us will need to use roads to get to off road sections, so it is important to know about our rights and responsibilities while doing so.
The type of clothing that you are wearing can also be important. These should be comfortable and suitable for the weather conditions. You should also wear boots suitable for walking should it be necessary.
It is also important to have a way of calling for help should the need arise. Carrying a mobile phone allows you to do this, as well as providing access to maps. Downloading the app “what3words” can help pinpoint your location in the case of an emergency. That being said, some areas have very poor phone signal, so letting somebody know where you are going and when you are likely to get back can also be a good idea. Similarly, when going out on a new route for the first time taking a physical map is a good idea, in case phone signal is particularly poor.
A skill that many find useful is learning how to open gates from horseback, as it allows for more time riding. However, we would advise practicing this with your horse at your yard. If you don’t feel confident opening gates from your horse, then you should allow more time for your ride. Similarly, training your horse to stand will allow you to deal with any difficulties that arise while your horse remains still.
At The British Horse Society, we know that equestrians would prefer to be able to ride off road whenever possible. Yet, our bridleways and paths are under-threat, as many disappear from the map. We need your help to ensure that the next generation of horse riders are able to use these routes in the future.