Riding & Road Safety.....

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Following my recent qualification with the BHS to become a Riding & Road Safety Trainer, I felt it important to share some of the information learnt on the course, and share my own views on this delicate subject.
I will state that apart from the actual details taken from the course and the Highway Code, all other information is purely my own views.
Having taken and passed my own BHS R&R Safety back in the 80's, there has been an awful lot of change!
I believe that being a driver and a rider does help in the understanding of both sides, but how do you get it across to A.N.Other Driver that horses are big, powerful and very unpredictable in certain situations??
Have you asked yourself how often you have read the Highway Code? When did you last pick up a copy and read the latest edition? Do you know which the latest edition is? (it is the revised 2007, just for info!) Well, like most, I think the last time I picked mine up was back in the 90's when I needed to know things for my driving test!
One of the things noticeable to me is a bullet point on the back of the Highway code, is as follows: A failure to observe any of the provisions of the Highway Code might be used as evidence in legal proceedings.
Now, if we don't know what these new laws are, how are we meant to be able to act on them?? It is not for me to tell you what to do, but as the roads are getting busier, faster and to be honest, probably more dangerous!

I have been a victim, as many people have, of rude, abusive, impatient drivers, who pass so close it is scary. One ride I remember very well, I was happily walking around a corner in our local village when I could hear a car approaching from behind, knowing it was a bend I asked my horse to trot on and get out the way so the approaching car would see us after the bend, we were kitted out in our reflective gear and so didn't expect any issues. The car came around the corner, I turned to make eye contact with the driver to basically say "I see you, do you see us" and without even lifting off the accelerator, he (a youngish male) actually drove towards me and took my stirrup off my right foot and the whip clean out of my hand, then sped away! Well, I have to admit to being extremely angry and upset, my horse, the delightful Pepsy, was unperturbed thankfully and just continued as if nothing had happened, while I had made a mental note of the car and driver and would be reporting this to the local policeman.

Luckily for both Pepsy and I we escaped that incident and it didn't affect his hacking, unlike some other unlucky riders.
I have heard many scary stories regarding bad driving etc and some extremely sad stories where horses and sometimes riders too, had actually been killed. Now this blog isn't about making everyone never want to go out on the road again, this is to hopefully make you think for a moment.

So, if the roads are getting busier, faster and more dangerous, we as riders still want to use them, but how do we make ourselves less likely to have an accident, obviously we cannot help what some motorists do, but as riders what can WE do to lessen the chances??

Well, the obvious ones (to me) are:

  • Always wear reflective clothing, as stated in the Highway Code (HC): Rule 50 states, Light coloured or fluorescent clothing in DAYLIGHT, Reflective clothing in dull or dark (hopefully you won't be riding in the dark!!!) conditions.
  • Do not ride along on your mobile phone, although not a "rule" it is in my opinion a rather silly thing to do! How can you hear what is coming around the corner or from behind?? The same applies to Ipods, and NO I am not old fashioned, but it happens!     
  • Always wear a correctly fitting hat (hard hat that is!) to the correct safety standard and with the chin strap correctly fitted and fastened. (Rule 49 HC)
  • Make sure you can control your horse! (spooking is a hazard which is unavoidable at times, but if your horse is clearly badly behaved, maybe think about it prior to going out??)
  • Any horse or pony on the road must wear a correctly fitted saddle and bridle.
  • Remember to thank drivers for slowing down, if you don't they may take offence and not be so kind to the next rider they come across which could cause an accident. A smile goes a long way, even if you can't take your right hand off the rein to say thank you!
I know all these things make sense, but just stop and think about these for a moment, how often do you see riders chatting on the phone whilst riding? How often do riders venture out wearing dark clothing on dark horses and expect the drivers to see them? How often, I hope not many, do you see riders riding without their chin strap fastened (I have seen 6 this week alone!!) worse still riders with no hat at all!
Personally I think it is as much our responsibility to make ourselves as visible as possible at all times, it takes 2 minutes maximum to put on a fluorescent/reflective tabard, so why is it so many people do not wear them? is it due to the "cool" culture, if so and so doesn't wear one, then why should I, sort of thing? I'm not sure, but just remember one thing, your horse doesn't choose to go out in traffic, YOU choose to take him/her out, so do we not at least owe it to our four legged friend to at least make THEM safe???
Cost was one "issue" someone I know well, said about the tabards, well, if £3.00 is too much for you, your horse and other road users safety, then perhaps we should review what we are doing, I bought mine from the car shop "Halfords" and it is just as good as the ones from saddlers which do cost more, but it does exactly the same job!

Please do not be put off riding on our roads by reading this blog, as I said at the beginning, this is about my thoughts and my desire to pass on some tips for you and to be safe and enjoy using our networks of roads for many years to come.


The BHS have more information and useful information available at where there is also a site for registering accidents and incidents, which the BHS are interested in as they can then put together a list of "hot spot" places which can then be passed on to the relevant authorities for further investigation.

Please remember BE SAFE -BE SEEN!

R Safety Poster


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