Every week I seem to see something new on line about problems horses and riders have faced on the road or other road users complaining about horses on the roads. With more and more riders starting to use cameras to catch and report inconsiderate and dangerous drivers, and drivers complaining about the Polite range of Hi Visibility riding wear, these disagreements seem to be spiralling out of control! Sometimes into full blown Road Rage!
What causes road rage?
- Horse riders don’t like cars who don’t slow down or give them the space they need.
- Many drivers feel that horse riders don’t thank them or their horses are too dangerous to be on the roads.
- Horse riders feel that drivers are not educated in how to deal with horses on the roads and the extent of damage to horse, rider and driver and accident can cause.
- Horse riders feel too many cyclists don’t make their presence known before overtaking their horse from behind
- Dog walkers do not control their dogs around horses
- Other road users feel that wearing the Polite Hi Vis range is deceiving and is impersonating a police officer.
These are just a few problems, I’m sure there are many more. But basically it comes down to the fact that, riders don’t feel like they are giving enough space or respect on the roads. As I’m sure do other road users.
Should horses be on the roads?
Many non-horsey road users want horses off the road as horses are dangerous and have bridleways to ride on so don’t need the road. Although, I can understand where they are coming from, I totally disagree. Horses were using the roads long before the car was invented and have just as much right to be on them as anyone else. It is also important to point out that very few horse riders have bridle ways backing onto their fields. Most will have to use roads for part, if not for the majority, of their riding.
I also feel it is important to mention that there isn’t that many bridle ways around or close enough together to make up a decent ride for most people. This is because many bridleways have been closed or not maintained, making them unsafe or unusable. And although other people such as dog walkers and cyclists can use bridle ways, they fail to understand that horses have right of way. Bridle ways tend to be narrow, so misbehaving dogs or disrespectful cyclists/joggers could cause a nasty accident if they take the horse by surprise.
I am lucky that at both home and university, I have plenty of off road hacking and when I do use the roads, other users are usually very respectful. In fact the few occasions where I have had a problem on the road on certain horses, they have always slowed right down and given us plenty of space. I try to remember to wear Hi Vis when I go hacking and always thank drivers who slow down for me. However this hasn’t stopped me having a few near misses involving impatient, inconsiderate drivers. In fact, in all these occasions, if I had been on a slightly green or spooky horse, I think they would have been very nasty accidents.
How to stop the conflict
I think a lot needs to change to help stop this constant conflict on the road and it isn’t just between riders and other road users. It seems to be between everyone who uses the road, public footpaths and bridle ways. However, I will focus on the things relating to horse riders. We need:
- more accessible bridleways
- more educated road users on how to pass horses
- more considerate horse riders
- more Hi Vis worn by riders
- more awareness of the danger to all parties if an accident occurs with a horse
*** 7 hours after posting this ***
I took Scottie out for the hack and on the way back, we were walking along a busy ish road. We were right over to the side and Scottie was being very well behaved and I was pulling into driveways to let people pass. One man in an Aston Martin slowed down as he over took us to shout “You should be on the fields not the roads.” before reving his engine and driving off quickly. He’s lucky Scottie wasn’t phased by the car or I would be reporting him for being an ass hole!
What are your experiences with other road users?