Stay safe when you ride out on the road – Remember the three Ps
Plan your route, know the risks along the way.
Know where the potential hazards on the road are, such as potholes, cars, pedestrians, debris, or other obstacles that could be dangerous for your horse.
Avoid riding in bad weather: Riding a horse on a public road can be dangerous in bad weather, such as heavy rain, snow or low light. If possible, avoid riding in these conditions or take extra precautions to ensure the safety of yourself and your horse.
Take the BHS Ride Safe course: The BHS Ride Safe award will give you the confidence to ride in all the most common environments, keeping you and your horse safe. It is also recognised in the Highway Code and recommended as best practice.
Use experienced lead and tail escorts: Having experienced riders up front and at the back allows them to look out for dangers for the rest of the group
Learn the traffic laws: Just like any other road user, you should follow traffic laws when riding a horse on a public road. This includes stopping at stop signs and traffic lights, yielding to pedestrians and other vehicles, and staying in the designated areas for horseback riding.
Tell someone back at the yard where you are going and how long you expect to be so they can raise the alarm if you do not return on time
Carry a fully charged mobile phone in case of emergencies
Carry a first aid kit, both for you and your horses… and know how to use it! take a first aid course. One of your party should be a trained first aider
Wear a riding hat, gloves and good boots with a heel: It is important to wear a riding hat to protect your head in case of a fall or accident.
Wear reflective Hi-Vis clothing: Wearing reflective Hi-Vis clothing can help other road users see you more easily, especially at night or in low light conditions.
Use Hi-Vis gear on your horse: Make sure your horse has Hi-Vis gear on too! A Hi-Vis exercise sheet and brushing boots are ideal
Make sure you leave room for other road users. Ride single file on blind corners and narrow roads. The highway code does allow riding two abreast, but you should only do this under safe circumstances
Be visible: Try to position yourself in a way that makes you as visible as possible to other road users. This could include riding on the shoulder of the road or in a designated horse lane, if available.
Its also important that you know the Highway code. Know your rights as a road user. Don’t let anyone bully you on the road, you have as much right to be there as anyone as long as you follow the rules. The UK highway code is shown below for your reference:
The Highway Code
Rules about animals (47 to 58)
2. Horse riders (49 to 55)
Safety equipment. Children under the age of 14 MUST wear a helmet which complies with the Regulations. It MUST be fastened securely.
Other riders should also follow these requirements. These requirements do not apply to a child who is a follower of the Sikh religion while wearing a turban.
Laws H(PHYR) Act 1990, sect 1 & H(PHYR) Regulations 1992, reg 3
Other clothing. You should wear
boots or shoes with hard soles and heels
light-coloured or fluorescent clothing in daylight
reflective clothing if you have to ride at night or in poor visibility.
At night. It is safer not to ride on the road at night or in poor visibility, but if you do, make sure you wear reflective clothing and your horse has reflective bands above the fetlock joints. A light which shows white to the front and red to the rear should be fitted, with a band, to the rider’s right arm and/or leg/riding boot. If you are leading a horse at night, carry a light in your right hand, showing white to the front and red to the rear, and wear reflective clothing on both you and your horse. It is strongly recommended that a fluorescent/reflective tail guard is also worn by your horse.
Before you take a horse or horse drawn vehicle on to the road, you should
ensure all tack fits well and is in good condition
make sure you can control the horse.
If you are an inexperienced horse rider or have not ridden for a while, consider taking the Ride Safe Award from the British Horse Society. The Ride Safe Award provides a foundation for any horse rider to be safe and knowledgeable when riding in all environments but particularly on the road. For more information, see www.bhs.org.uk
Always ride with other, less nervous horses if you think that your horse will be nervous of traffic. Never ride a horse without both a saddle and bridle.
Before riding off or turning, look behind you to make sure it is safe, then give a clear arm signal.
When riding on the road you should
keep to the left
keep both hands on the reins unless you are signalling
keep both feet in the stirrups
not carry another person
not carry anything which might affect your balance or get tangled up with the reins
keep a horse you are leading to your left
move in the direction of the traffic flow in a one-way street
never ride more than two abreast, and ride in single file on narrow or busy roads and when riding round bends.
You MUST NOT take a horse onto a footpath or pavement, and you should not take a horse onto a cycle track. Use a bridleway where possible. Equestrian crossings may be provided for horse riders to cross the road and you should use these where available (see Crossings). You should dismount at level crossings where a ‘horse rider dismount’ sign is displayed.
Laws HA 1835 sect 72, R(S)A 1984, sect 129(5)
Avoid roundabouts wherever possible. If you use them you should – keep to the left and watch out for vehicles crossing your path to leave or join the roundabout – signal right when riding across exits to show you are not leaving – signal left just before you leave the roundabout.