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Council Services:

Horse riders

There are over 2.4 million horse riders in Great Britain and around 149 accidents involving horses on our roads every year, resulting on average in two deaths and 130 injuries to riders. Over 50% of all road accidents involving horses happen on minor roads.

Motorists and horse riders both have a right to use the road and they also share a responsibility to consider each other’s needs.

Expect the unexpected

Image of a horse

  • Look out for horses being led or ridden on the road.
  • At left-hand bends and on narrow country roads - take extra care and keep your speed down.
  • When you see a horse rider on the road - slow down.
  • When behind a horse rider - give them plenty of room and be ready to stop.
  • Do not sound your horn or rev your engine - horses are powerful but vulnerable animals, easily scared by noise and may panic around fast moving vehicles.
  • When overtaking - pass wide and slow.
  • Horse riders are often youngsters - so take extra care.
  • For increased safety, riders may ride in double file when escorting a young or inexperienced horse rider.
  • Watch out for horse riders’ signals and heed a request to slow down or stop.
  • Riders should signal their intentions but drivers should be aware that horses are unpredictable and a rider on a young or frightened horse may have their hands full.
  • Look out for horse riders turning right.
  • Horse riders keep to the left of the road even when turning right - it is unsafe for them to position a horse between lines of traffic where they can panic, sandwiched with no escape route.
  • Watch out for horse riders on roundabouts.
  • When on a roundabout, horse riders will normally signal right only when approaching exits they DO NOT intend to use. Horse riders will keep to the left within the roundabout until reaching their exit, when they signal left.

Mutual courtesy and care between motorists and riders is important to prevent intolerance and improve safety. A horse rider should acknowledge a courtesy, however a wave or acknowledgement is not always possible as two hands are often needed to keep control of the horse, but a nod and a friendly smile are the least you should expect.

What to do if you’re a horse rider

  • Thank motorists who are courteous to you
  • Read the appropriate sections of the Highway code
  • Keep away from busy main roads as much as possible
  • Ride on the left hand side of the road
  • Give clear and accurate signals
  • Make sure you can be seen by drivers at all times of the day (wear reflective gear)

As a motorist you should:

  • Look out for horses being led or ridden on the road.
  • At left-hand bends and on narrow country roads - take extra care and keep your speed down.
  • When you see a horse rider on the road - slow down.
  • When behind a horse rider - give them plenty of room and be ready to stop.
  • Do not sound your horn or rev your engine - horses are powerful but vulnerable animals, easily scared by noise and may panic around fast moving vehicles.
  • When overtaking - pass wide and slow.
  • Horse riders are often youngsters - so take extra care.
  • For increased safety, riders may ride in double file when escorting a young or inexperienced horse rider.
  • Watch out for horse riders’ signals and heed a request to slow down or stop.
  • Riders should signal their intentions but drivers should be aware that horses are unpredictable and a rider on a young or frightened horse may have their hands full.
  • Look out for horse riders turning right.
  • Horse riders keep to the left of the road even when turning right - it is unsafe for them to position a horse between lines of traffic where they can panic, sandwiched with no escape route.
  • Watch out for horse riders on roundabouts.
  • When on a roundabout, horse riders will normally signal right only when approaching exits they DO NOT intend to use. Horse riders will keep to the left within the roundabout until reaching their exit, when they signal left.

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Last updated: 29 March 2017

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