If you didn’t already know, this Saturday the 25th March is National Equestrian Safety Day. Created by The Mark Davies Injured Riders Fund, this day is designed to raise awareness surrounding equestrian safety as the clocks change and more riders are returning to the saddle. It is important to remind people of the precautions needed in equestrian safety, especially on the roads.
All riders on the road, no matter age or level of skill, are required to conform to safety wear standards by wearing hi-visibility clothing, such as a tabard or jacket. Even on bright, sunny days it is important to wear hi-vis clothing on both yourself and your horse as research has shown even in these conditions, the use of hi-vis can enable a motorist to see you three seconds earlier.
Avoid riding in poor conditions
Although the days are getting longer, riders should still make themselves aware of daylight hours and avoid riding in failing light. If you must lead your horse out in these conditions, make sure you wear a light, showing white to the front and red to the rear, on your leg or arm. Unpredictable weather such as snow and ice can be very dangerous for both horse and rider as the terrain becomes slippery and other dangers are obstructed.
Be considerate of road users
Riding on the road can be daunting for both horse and rider, one way to ensure safety for all is to show courtesy to drivers – who are then more likely to return the favour. According to the Highway Code, riders are advised to stay on the left hand side of the road as close to the curb as possible.
Road riding can present many unexpected hazards so it’s important to stay aware at all times so you can react to any situation that may spook your horse. One tip is to avoid wearing earphones, so you can hear traffic approaching sooner.
If you do need to move away from the curb, for example at a junction or to pass a parked car, be sure to signal your intentions a few seconds in advance so that nearby motorists are made aware of your plans. This will not only give the motorist time to react, but reduces the chance of your horse being spooked by any sudden actions such as braking or the use of a horn.
Don’t go it alone
If you’re worried about how your horse will react to traffic, being accompanied by a more experienced rider will not only increase your confidence, but keep your horse calm too. Remember when riding two abreast, always move into single file as soon as possible to allow other road users to safely overtake. If you are riding going riding alone it’s a good idea to inform someone of the route you intend to talk and your contact details.