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Road Safety

Horses on the road: advice for drivers and riders

Hampshire benefits from beautiful countryside and rural villages, which naturally lend themselves to a high volume of equine activity.

In order to keep both drivers, riders and horses themselves safe on our roads, please consider the following advice for all parties.

Horse sense for drivers

  • Slow down when you see a horse, and drive slowly past them

  • Give them plenty of room and be ready to stop

  • Do not scare animals by sounding your horn or revving your engine

  • Look out for horse riders' signals and be aware that they may not move to the centre of the road prior to turning right

  • Riders of horses and ponies are often children - so please take extra care

  • Treat horses as a potential hazard and expect the unexpected.


Road awareness for horse riders

  • Riders should know the Highway Code and avoid main or busy roads if possible.

  • The rider should always remain in control of the horse keeping rein contact. Horses are unpredictable and riding with a loose rein can result in an accident if the horse is startled.

  • Always look behind regularly to be aware of traffic behind and continually look and listen for hazards which may alarm the horse.  hazards should be avoided, taking a detour if possible so as not to alarm the horse.

  • The average speed of vehicles on the minor roads is 40-45mph. For a car travelling at 40mph it will take him/her almost the full length of a dressage arena (36 metres) to stop.

  • Riders should wear high visibility clothing. Fluorescent and reflective ankle bands and stirrup lights are particularly effective.

  • Try not to use busy roads when exercising horses, unless you have no alternative quieter or “off road” route.

  • Give drivers consideration and courtesy, anticipating that most drivers do not ride and may not understand a horse rider’s perspective on road use.

  • Take the British Horse Society’s road proficiency test before using roads and make sure that you (and your horse if possible) wear items which are fluorescent, reflective and easily seen by drivers.

  • Never ride more than two abreast on road, and ride in single file where the road narrows or near bends.


The British Horse Society

The British Horse Society (BHS) is a registered charity that has the largest equine membership in the UK. With more than 71,000 members they have a powerful voice with the Government.

The BHS Safety Department work to educate and inform the horse community of safety issues by collating data and lobbying the government where appropriate.

Some of the campaigns are below:

Be Safe Be Seen

Wearing luminous and fluorescent items when riding can give vehicle drivers a valuable THREE seconds extra ‘reaction time’ that could save the life of both you and your horse! To put it into context those three seconds are equivalent to a car, driven at 30 mph, travelling the length of a full size dressage arena!

Not everyone realises the importance of wearing hi-viz. The BHS have designed a poster to highlight the importance of riding safely on the roads. The poster can be downloaded and displayed in local shops, tack rooms, feed merchants, riding schools and livery yards – anywhere that riders might go!

BHS Be Safe Be Seen Campaign Poster Download Acrobat Reader to view this PDF 488kb

BHS Don't Be A Dark Horse Campaign Poster Download Acrobat Reader to view this PDF 75kb

BHS Think! Campaign

The BHS Think! Campaign highlights the need to take care when driving around horses, courtesy of the DfT.

The BHS Think Campaign advert:

The BHS also have campaign posters and advice on issues relating to dog attacks, low flying aircrafts, slippery road surfaces as well as details of how to book your Riding and Road Safety Test, vehicle licensing laws and many more related issues.

Please visit their website for further information: uk


Equine accidents

The British Horse Society has launched a dedicated horse accidents website designed to provide statistics and data which will be used to lobby the Government for better riding conditions.

The website,, is to provide anyone involved in an equine-related incident with an easily accessible method of reporting it. Currently, an equestrian-related road incident may go unrecorded unless a human is injured and taken to hospital for treatment from the scene of the accident, therefore statistics are poor.

Initially, the website will record road traffic incidents concerning ridden and driven horses, incidents involving low flying aircraft, road surface dressings, dangerous dogs, fireworks, wind turbines, and issues with gates. There is provision to add other concerns as they are identified.

If you or your friends have fallen victim to any such incidents, then the BHS needs your help; sharing your experiences could make a huge difference to all riders. The Society wants to hear about near misses too. Accurate statistics are essential in order to enable them to lobby government for better conditions for equestrians.


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