Harmony on two wheels and four legs

Mutual respect between cyclists and horse riders prevents accidents

Mutual respect between cyclists and horse riders prevents accidents - Credit: Archant

Cyclists and horse riders both have a statutory right to travel on byways, bridleways and roads. The British Horse Society outlines ways they can help each other to stay safe and enjoy their hobbies

Recognising the time and financial and emotional investment made by both horse and cycle riders goes a long way to helping both to stay safe on the road. A horse is a friend and companion to the person who cares for the animal and a cycle has cost the owner a great deal of money to buy and time to maintain. Both types of riders can be vulnerable out on the road.

Guide for cyclists

? Horses can be easily frightened and this should always be taken into consideration when passing them on the road. The number of cyclists that are passing or even a plastic bag flapping in a hedge can all cause problems for some horses. Slow down, pass wide and on the right in small groups. Large groups of cyclists can be very intimidating for horses.

? Let other road users know you’re there – calling out ‘hello’ for walkers or equestrians is welcome and important in alerting horses and riders to your presence.

? Ask a horse rider if it is safe to pass before attempting to go by.

? If a horse has been frightened by your presence, give the rider a chance to calm the horse and move out of your way before you move off again. Try not to be annoyed if a horse rider doesn’t appear to acknowledge your patience and consideration; he or she may be concentrating on controlling and calming their horse to avoid falling off.

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? Do heed a rider or carriage driver’s request to slow down or stop for the safety of all involved.

? Be visible when riding on tracks or roads – wear fluorescent and reflective clothing.

? Keep your eyes and ears open. Hoof marks or fresh dung are good signs that there could be horses about.

Guide for horse riders

? Be prepared – make sure your horse is fit and schooled to cope with all the situations you are likely to meet.

? Irrespective of the time of day, time of year or prevailing weather conditions, fluorescent and reflective clothing should be worn, on or off-road.

? Keep your eyes and ears open. Tyre tracks are a good sign that there could be cyclists about.

? Watch your horse’s ears – he may often hear a cyclist before you do.

? Slow down if you meet other users. Equestrians are used to the size of their horses and ponies, but that doesn’t mean everyone else is.

? Give cyclists room. If you are able to move to allow them to pass without dismounting, it will be appreciated.

Remember Highway Code rule 214

‘When passing animals, drive slowly. Give them plenty of room and be ready to stop. Do not scare animals by sounding your horn, revving your engine or accelerating rapidly once you have passed. Look out for animals being led, driven or ridden on the road and take extra care. Keep your speed down at bends and on narrow country roads. If a road is blocked by a herd of animals, stop and switch off your engine until they have left the road. Watch out for animals on unfenced roads.’ Advice given to motorists is equally applicable to all road users. There is room for everyone if a little courtesy and consideration is shown – a smile, nod or brief wave is sufficient acknowledgement and means a great deal.