People not wearing High Visibility clothing (or Hi Vis) is a real bugbear of mine. As an industry we are currently involved in an uphill battle where we apparently need to justify why we use the roads and why other road users should be respectful and safe around us. While I don’t believe this is something we should have to do, unfortunately this is the situation we are in and we can’t give other road users an excuse not to respect us on the roads.
Sadly, every week I read a story about a near miss or even an accident involving horses and inconsiderate and/or dangerous drivers. These incidents are shared all over social media and many make it into our equine magazines. People are very quick to blame the driver for causing the accident, which in many cases is the case. But I still see people hacking out without Hi Vis!
My biggest issue with this is that by deciding not to wear Hi Vis, you are making it harder for other road users to see you. Even a cautious driver on a country road can spook and potentially hit your horse if they can’t see you. And I can’t help but feel that not wearing Hi Vis will encourage inconsiderate drivers to not give you the space you need. This not only puts you and your horse at risk, but also puts everyone else on the road at risk too!
I can’t think of a single excuse for not wearing HiVis while out hacking on the roads. At the bare minimum you should at least be wearing a HiVis tabbard, which you can pick up for next to nothing online. They are lightweight and cool in the summer and can fit over big coats in the winter. Hi Vis also has its own style choices now too! Different colours, styles, cuts and accessories means that there is a Hi Vis option out there for everyone.
It’s not just for road use!
Even if you are just going around the fields. Wearing HiVis can help farmers working on the fields see you and can make sure they give you plenty of space with any work they are doing. Also, if you are riding out alone, if you do have an accident and you end up injured on the floor, HiVis can make it easier for people to find you to help as soon as possible.
Are you insured?
If you read the small print of your horse insurance policy, you may well find that they will not pay out for any accidents where you weren’t wearing sufficient Hi Vis. This means you may be left to try and find the money for vet fees or even 3rd party claims if you have an accident on the roads. These claims can easily climb into the thousands! Surely buying some HiVis is a much more sensible option!
Yes drivers need to be careful around horses on the road. But how can we expect people to slow down and give us the space we need if they cannot see us until they are practically on top of us? I always hack out in a minimum of a HiVis coat or Tabard. I also have a flashing hat band and an exercise sheet for Scottie I use if the visibility is particularly poor or if it’s cold. Who else is fed up of seeing riders without HiVis on the roads?