Cut your speed! That is the call from a Ribble Valley horse-rider who fears someone may be killed if drivers do not slow down and look out for horses on the roads.
In a bid to highlight the problem, Mrs Katherine Robinson, who owns and keeps horses at her home in Waddington, organised a “ride out” which took in part of Waddington’s Fell Road – the scene of a serious accident which left two riders injured, one of them seriously, and a horse dead last year.
The ride out was co-ordinated by Ribble Valley Horse Watch co-ordinator PCSO Di Bioletti, who has organised similar ride outs in Chipping and Read. She is keen to make motorists more aware of how dangerous some actions can be around horses.
Katherine felt compelled to raise the matter with police after feeling vulnerable when riding along country roads near her village.
“I was riding along the Fell Road at Waddington one Sunday and cars were just whizzing past us, going very fast and getting up very close to us. It really put the wind up me and scared my horse, and that’s when I decided I had to call the police,” Katherine explained.
She added that, after last year’s serious accident, she has always been wary of riding on Fell Road.
Both have a right to use the road and both share a responsibility to consider each other’s needKatherine Robinson
“But it’s the only way you can get to the bridleway. I didn’t have any other choice,” Katherine explained.
The ride out, which aimed to raise awareness of horse riders as vulnerable road users, was held on Sunday and took in part of Waddington’s Fell Road where last year’s serious accident happened. Officers were on hand to advise motorists who failed to drive carefully and courteously near the riders.
Katherine said: “As well as the help we’ve received from Lancashire Police, local landowners have also been very supportive and have generously allowed us to ride on their land following the accident as it has made them realise how vulnerable we are.”
PCSO Di Bioletti is keen to make motorists more aware of how dangerous their actions can be around horses.
She explained: “Riders in the Ribble Valley are reporting near misses and collisions – mainly as a result of motorists not slowing down sufficiently to allow for the fact they are passing an animal whose instinct is to react, sometimes excessively and unpredictably, to perceived dangers.
“With ever increasing traffic and more horse riders using our roads now is a good time to try to improve road safety for horse riders and motorists sharing Ribble Valley roads.
“Both have a right to use the road and both share a responsibility to consider each other’s needs.
“Mutual courtesy and consideration is important in maintaining safety as well as an awareness that a horse, however well-schooled, may spook, jump or spin round if it is frightened.”
PCSO Bioletti added: “Many drivers are courteous and considerate around horse riders and we would like to take the opportunity to thank those drivers for helping to keep the roads safe.”
The main messages to motorists are:
●● Treat all horses as a hazard and expect the unexpected! Follow the Highway Code.
●● When overtaking pass wide and slow – don’t see a gap and go for it – a horse can jump six feet sideways so the gap may disappear!
●● For increased safety riders may ride two abreast – please be patient they will return to single file when it is safe to do so.
●● Watch out for riders’ signals and heed a request to stop or slow down – they are in a position to spot a hazard you may not see.
●● Please don’t rev your engine, sound your horn or play very loud music near a horse and rider.
●● When behind a horse give them at least 2 car lengths space and be ready to stop.
●● Be aware of the reactions of the horse – is it agitated? If so stop and switch off your engine – especially if you are driving a large or noisy vehicle.
And for riders:
●● Use fluorescent and reflective clothing for yourself and your horse whatever the time of day or weather conditions.
●● Use the correct hand signals and be aware of what is going on around you on the road, and follow the Highway Code.
●● Pull in when it is safe to let a long traffic queue pass.
●● Thank considerate and courteous drivers if it is safe to do so.