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COLUMN - Older, and Grumpier: ‘Road users should show consideration to horses and riders’

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Attention: Please Pass Wide And Slow.

Also, have a read of the highway code. In particular Rules 144 and 215 if you wouldn’t mind. You don’t have to like horses. You don’t have to like riders. I’m guessing here, but I believe you do like your vehicles and appreciate life, if only your own.

It is unfortunate that in this country we have a distinct lack of off-road riding. Many public paths used by the horse were lost in the Great Definitive Map Disaster, leaving riders not much choice other than to use the roadways.

If you are one of the many considerate drivers I come into contact with on a daily basis, I’d just like to thank you for being a ‘normal’ human being. I hope you don’t think me rude if I haven’t given you an appreciative wave of the hand, it’s just I prefer to keep both hands on the reins. I think it safer. You may have missed my smiling face and quick nod of head.

If I have delayed your journey by a few seconds, sorry. Still, better to arrive a couple of moments later than some hours (or not at all) following an accident. Believe me when I say, a horse on top of your roof or through the windscreen really is going to cause an almighty mess.

Why is it some people completely change personality when they get behind the wheel of a vehicle? In everyday life they aren’t homicidal maniacs, but put their driving gloves on and something very strange happens. Is it the speed that interferes with their inner-ear or something? Is it the electrical impulses of the brain being effected by the mechanical engine? In the wrong hands a car, lorry, tractor, motorcycle is a lethal weapon and it seems to me there are people out there who don’t appear to care if they use it as such.

Most of us wouldn’t dream of causing injury to someone else. Some people seem to not be too concerned whether they do so or not, which really saddens me.

It’s a horse. But on top of that horse is someone’s mother, daughter, wife, son etc...Yes, I choose to ride the horse and make a calculated decision to ride it on the road in the belief that most of you haven’t got it in for me. That is why I am sometimes overwhelmed by the apparent inconsiderateness of the minority.

There is no such thing as a bomb-proof horse, though I haven’t personally tested that one out. Many are really good with traffic. Riders can have differing levels of competence and experience. The horse is a flight animal. He sees tigers lurking everywhere and his natural instinct is to run away. You can never predict for certain when he may need to escape the tiger.

I believe the majority of horse riders are responsible and polite. If you’ve found otherwise, it may have been because the rider saw the danger that you’d underestimated. When suddenly faced with a life and death situation, our adrenaline will kick in. In such situations, grumpiness can become an issue for both driver and rider. At such moments, a little understanding from both parties is desired.

Some predictable upset horse events: you sound your horn, you let off your air-brakes, you’re towing a rattling trailer, you are huge and the road is small, you’re on fire.

Please consider the vulnerability of other road users: cyclists, the elderly, children, the disabled, learner drivers and horse riders. They all have people who love them. And if you aren’t a ‘normal’ human being, you can trot on.

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