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Ignorant drivers are putting horses & riders at risk! Sarah is concerned

14th June, 2023 | Road Safety, Equestrian

Sarah, an avid horse rider, expresses her worry about the reckless behaviour of ignorant drivers when encountering horse riders on roads.

Ignorant Drivers - Sarah TaylorShe believes that certain ignorant drivers should demonstrate more consideration when passing horse riders on the roads as equestrians have an equal right to be on the roads. It is not only a matter of fairness but also a question of safety for both riders and their horses.

Sarah Taylor, a 26-year-old resident of Ruskington in Lincolnshire, has been riding horses since childhood and currently owns three beautiful horses named Katusha, Kelly, and Lottie that she regularly takes out with people.

She frequently takes them out for rides along the backroads connecting her village to Roxholm and Leasingham. However, Sarah has observed that only around 30% of passing cars slow down to a speed of 10mph, while the majority maintain speeds between 25 and 30mph.

According to the Highway Code, drivers should reduce their speed to a maximum of 10mph and pass horses “wide and slow,” leaving at least two metres of space between their vehicles and the horses. Drivers should also exercise patience and avoid sounding their horns or revving their engines.

Unfortunately, adherence to these Highway Code guidelines is rare in practice, as Sarah, who works as a primary school teacher, attests. She explains, “We are seated on an animal that has a mind of its own. We can do our best to control it, but if a horse becomes startled and bolts, the rider is either going to fall off or the horse will gallop back home, potentially causing an injury.”

Sarah has even witnessed instances where ignorant drivers overtake other vehicles in order to bypass the horses quickly, creating a dangerous situation. She emphasises, “I am the one on that horse, and I have a life. If I were to fall and break my neck, I wouldn’t be able to pay my bills. I don’t believe the person in the car fully considers the consequences of an accident or the loss of our horse.”

Ignorant Drivers - Sarah Taylor

She adds, “Use your judgment and assess whether it’s a safe place to pass us. Ask yourself if you would overtake a cyclist in the same location. However, I understand that on certain roads, it may be challenging to provide the recommended 2 metre distance.”

Due to these concerns, Sarah has decided to avoid riding on the road altogether and instead sticks to bridle paths when riding with others, despite the fact that it would be better for her horses to venture further.

To communicate the need for ignorant drivers to slow down, horse riders employ a signal, Sarah explains. “We extend our arm flat and wave it up and down. This indicates ‘Slow down.’ However, there have been numerous occasions where people have failed to decelerate and instead waved back at me. Perhaps they are unaware of its meaning.”

Although ignorant drivers not slowing down to an appropriate speed is a problem, Sarah acknowledges that some drivers are considerate and will reduce their speed and wait.

A spokesperson said, “When passing a vulnerable road user, take a moment to think and give yourself ample time to overtake safely. Horses, in particular, react to noise, and stressful situations can trigger unpredictable responses, posing a serious risk of injury to the horse, the rider, and the passing driver. By adhering to the Highway Code, drivers can prevent accidents and continue their journey with a smile on their faces.”

Maybe ignorant drivers should remember that horses were on the roads well before cars were!

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