I've been meaning to write this blog for ages. I pass horses so often when on the lanes of Cheshire, that I was unclear as to what the protocol should be when passing, other than wide and slow.
A few weeks back, we passed a group of horses and there was one particularly nervous horse who was very jumpy and nearly took one of our group out as we passed. No fault of anyone's, just one of those situations when a group passing through slowly, spooked the horse and the rider was doing her best to get things under control.
I think cyclists and horse riders have a healthy respect for each other. We both are often verbally abused by motorists wanting to pass quickly and taking dangerous risks. So, what is the safe way to pass horses if you're on your bike? The British Horse society offer this advice to cyclists: -
- Horses are creatures of fright and flight and sudden movement or noise can cause problems for all concerned.
- Because cycles are generally quiet, they may not be noticed by either the rider of the horse until they are very close. Try to attract the the horse rider(s) attention by making verbal contact before you reach them (I normally shout "rider behind"). This advice is particularly important when coming up behind horses.
- Look out for the riders' signals and heed any request to slow down or stop.
- For the safety of all involved, please be patient and wait for the rider to sort out any riding issues your presence might have raised.
- Riders may be attempting to get off the road into a safe place, in order to let you pass - given the chance to do this by adjusting your speed and keeping a safe distance.
- If possible, ask the horse rider if it is safe to pass, before attempting to do so.
- Pass the horse(s) wide and slow.
- Horse riders may need to ride two abreast for safety, when escorting a young, or inexperienced horse or rider, give them a chance to sort themselves out.
- Don't be annoyed if a horse rider doesn't appear to be acknowledging your kindness and consideration. They do appreciate your help but may be concentrating on controlling their horse.
- Bikes and horses are valuable. With a little courtesy and consideration all around, there is room on the road for everyone.
If you are a horse rider and you have any further advice, please feel free to leave a comment. If you want to seek any more advice you can speak to The British Horse Society on 02476 840561 or visit www.horseaccidents.org.uk.