Paula's Blog - Those flying pests!16/06/2020
I’m sure we are not the only ones battling against those pesky flying adversaries at the moment!
Vehicles, like horses, can be unpredictable, which is why it’s so important to follow the rules when riding or leading your horse on the road.
The Highway Code lays down specific requirements for riders, carriage drivers and vehicle drivers; when everyone follows this framework it significantly reduces the chances of collisions and casualties.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.
According to the British Horse Society (BHS), riders and their animals are some of the most vulnerable road users: year after year, significant numbers of incidents occur between vehicles and horses – this is why it’s essential to secure reliable cover.
You’ll be in good hands with Equesure, whether you’re a frequent or occasional rider.
We offer bespoke horse rider insurance, so that you have peace of mind that you’re protected – on and off the road. Our packages can include personal accident cover up to £20,000, as well as public liability cover.
While this guide cannot be deemed legal advice, we want to help you stay safe on the road, so let’s get started.
Figures released by the BHS paint a worrying picture of incidents between vehicles and horses.
Bearing in mind only one in 10 incidents are reported to BHS, these figures could easily be even more troubling.
Between November 2010 and March 2019:
It's clear this problem isn’t going away: between 1st March 2018 and 28th February 2019, 845 incidents were reported to the BHS.
More than a quarter of equestrians reported experiencing abuse or road rage.
Every time you go out on the road with your horse, it’s vital to remember these statistics, as not all drivers will act responsibly.
Likewise, it’s your duty to stay within the law when riding on the road, learning the Highway Code, using the correct kit and following the rules at all times.
Horses are ‘flight’ animals. This means they can become easily scared and act unpredictably. The most experienced rider will have trouble controlling a horse spooked by a speeding car.
Equines in this situation will intuitively run away from the source of fear as fast as possible.
Unfortunately, this could take riders right into the path of traffic – this is why reliable horse rider insurance is so important.
It should be noted: when we talk about the ‘road’, bridleways, footpaths, cycle tracks and many driveways/roadways situated on private property can fall into this category.
While the law applies to all of these types of road, additional rules might apply to specific paths and rights of way.
The Highway Code includes everything you need to know about riding your horse, on byways or highways.
We’ll be focusing on the advice and rules that apply to horse riders and owners travelling on UK roads. You should also make sure you have your own, up to date copy of the Highway Code.
Time to take a closer look at the rules detailed in the Highway Code…
When out and about on four-legged friends, children younger than 14 years of age must wear a helmet.
The helmet must meet the approved standards and be fastened securely to the wearer (children who are members of the Sikh faith do not have to follow this rule while wearing turbans).
Riders older than 14 years old are also expected to wear helmets when riding. All riders are required to wear footwear with hard heels or soles, as well as fluorescent or lightly coloured clothing during the daytime.
When riding in poor visibility or during the night, riders must wear reflective clothing.
It’s not recommended to ride in poor visibility or during the night, but if you choose to, you’ll need to do more than wear reflective clothing.
When riding, you must make sure a light that shines white at the front and red at the back is secured to your right arm and/or your riding boot/leg, using a band to keep it in place.
Your equine must have reflective bands fitted above their fetlock joints.
When leading, you must hold a light in your right hand, shining white at the front and red at the back.
Both you and your horse should wear reflective clothing, and it’s strongly advised that you also attach a reflective/fluorescent tail guard to your pony.
Before you and your equine hit the road, you must make sure all tack fits your horse well and is in an acceptable condition.
You should not take your horse out on the road unless you’re confident you can control it.
It’s best to ride with other, more confident equines if your horse is anxious around traffic. Never go riding without both a bridle and saddle.
Before you turn or ride anywhere, check behind you, ensuring it’s safe to move, following this with a clear arm signal.
When you go riding on roads you must:
You should never ride or lead a horse on a pavement or footpath, nor should you take your equine onto cycle tracks. You are not allowed to ride a horse on a motorway.
It’s preferable to use a bridleway, when you can. You may encounter equestrian crossings, which facilitate horse riders crossing the road – you’re asked to use these whenever possible.
These crossings are wider, have pavement barriers and are highlighted by horse and rider figures featured in light panels.
They include either two sets of controls (one in a higher position) or one single higher control, to be used by equestrians.
You must dismount when you reach level crossings marked with a ‘horse rider dismount’ sign.
Try to avoid using roundabouts. If you have to use one, keep to the left and stay extra alert, looking out for oncoming vehicles joining or leaving the roundabout.
Use your arm to signal right when crossing exits, to let drivers know you’re not leaving; signal left just before you leave the roundabout.
If you’re operating a horse-drawn vehicle on a highway, it must follow the standards set out in the Code of Practice for Horse-Drawn Vehicles, released by the Department for Transport – the code lays out how the vehicle should be maintained and operated.
It also stipulates the terms of the required road driving assessment, alongside a list of safety checks used to confirm carriages are in adequate working order, with safe fittings.
If the operator of the horse-drawn vehicle wishes to apply for a Local Authority licence (enabling them to carry passengers), the Local Authority may ask them to meet the standards outlined in the Department for Transport’s road driving assessment.
While it’s not recommended to drive horse-drawn vehicles at night, if you do, your carriage must be fitted with a light that shines white at the front and red at the back, as well as two red rear reflectors.
While you should try to steer clear of fast or busy roads, there may be times when you encounter drivers.
Following the Highway Code helps keep you safe, but you should always maintain total focus on the road ahead of you and avoid getting distracted.
As a horse rider or owner, it’s also incredibly useful to know what’s expected of drivers, if they meet your horse on the road.
Once you understand what protocols should be followed on both sides, it’s easier to predict what a driver’s next move will be, minimising the chance of a collision.
By law, drivers are required to be extra vigilant around horse-drawn vehicles and riders, particularly when overtaking. They must pass slowly, leaving a wide space between the equine and their vehicle.
They are obliged to look out for any signals given by horse drivers or riders and adhere to any requests to stop or slow down.
When they encounter a horse, most responsible drivers will also:
If possible, it’s nice to thank courteous drivers with a smile or a nod, letting them know you appreciate their patience.
However, safety comes first, so if your hands are full or you’re too nervous to do so, don’t.
It’s always best to plan your routes in advance, steering clear of busy areas.
You should never assume drivers would slow down – or act responsibly.
Cover yourself with dependable horse rider insurance and always stay on your guard – your equine isn’t the only unpredictable factor when out on the roads.
You may use the same roads on a frequent basis, but don’t allow yourself to be lulled into a false sense of security.
Drivers who don’t know the local area may be unaware that riders use certain roads.
In addition to this, you can never rule out the chance of encountering someone driving while they’re impaired – this could be through no fault of their own, as medical issues can arise out of the blue.
Here at Equesure, we know how rewarding horse riding can be. However, the risks cannot be ignored, so it’s essential to protect yourself with reliable horse rider insurance.
Equesure has over 60 years’ experience providing specialist cover. Working with our trusted panel of insurers, we offer bespoke horse rider insurance policies, tailored to each individual’s specific needs.
As well as protecting you, we can arrange for emergency vet fees to be included in your package, up to the value of £1,500.
Our cover can also include features and benefits such as:
Enjoy many more adventures with your four-legged friend and get a quote today.
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