It is important to ride slowly past all livestock and not enter any fields where there are animals which pose a danger to you or may be alarmed by you. Particular care should be taken where there are pregnant animals which may become startled or defensive by the presence of a horse. Keep to established paths or tracks within the field, keep a sensible distance from animals and keep a close eye on them at all times. Check for possible alternative routes across neighbouring land if there is a risk of any danger. Again, take note of advice from land managers and any signs displayed.
What to do if you have an access problem
Step 1: Is your proposed access responsible?
Access granted by the Act must be exercised responsibly and it should be remembered that the Act also applies to other users such as walkers and cyclists - so there will be times when compromises must be made to accommodate everyone. If you are experiencing a problem with access, first think about whether your proposed access would be determined as responsible. To help you decide, read the provisions of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016 and the guidance provided in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.
Step 2: Negotiation and Compromise
If you are satisfied that your access is responsible, contact the landowner and explain calmly and politely your proposed access route. Ask them to clarify their objections to the use of the route; try to understand the landowner’s concerns from his or her perspective and consider the objections reasonably. Also, consider what you could do to help the situation. Landowners will understandably be unwilling to accommodate riders where there is a likelihood of or evidence of disruption of their legitimate activities or damage to their land. Make sure you are able to demonstrate to and assure the landowner that your access will be responsible, that measures will be taken to avoid disruption and that any damage will be rectified. If a landowner is trying to compromise by for example providing alternative routes, be willing to consider these. The more that you can do in return for the landowner and others exercising access rights, the more they will be willing to provide in return. Do not be combative and withdraw gracefully from any potential aggravation.
Step 3: Contact BHS Scotland
If you need more help, support or advice, please contact Helene Mauchlen, National Manger for Scotland, at firstname.lastname@example.org, on 02476 840727 or at Woodburn Farm, Crieff, Perthshire PH7 3RG. Alternatively, contact your Regional or County Access Officers on your local committees.
Step 4: BHS Equestrian Access Groups
You may also find it helpful to contact your local BHS Affiliated Equestrian Access Group. These groups work successfully together to promote and maintain existing access routes, establish new routes and encourage responsible access. Membership of these groups can prove very valuable for riders experiencing access issues.
Step 5: Local Authority Access Officers
If after the above steps no compromise can be found and you still feel that access is being denied unreasonably you can report the problem to your Local Authority Access Officer (find yours on the Outdoor Access Scotland website). The local authority has a statutory duty to uphold the access rights and can therefore be asked to intervene when necessary. If the Local Authority will not get involved, the issue should be raised with the local Councillor and/or MSP.
Step 6: Legal Action
Legal action should be viewed as a final resort only. Litigation is an extremely lengthy and costly process and is best avoided.