Dear car drivers.
Last Sunday there was a horrible collision in Surrey where sadly two horses were hit by a car and had to be put to sleep. It’s the stuff of horse owners nightmares and I also can’t imagine that experience was particularly pleasant for the driver who in my opinion was very lucky. Half a ton of animal colliding with your car is a possible fatal incident for the driver as well as the horses/riders.
Now I know when you are driving you are only trying to get somewhere. I also know the roads are busier than ever especially in the south east around London. I also know that driving is stressful at the best of times especially if you have a horse in front of you slowing you down when you are trying to get to work or a car full of kids who need to get to swimming lessons or a party or maybe you are just trying to get to the supermarket before it gets busy. Either way I understand.
Believe me though we are also only trying to get from A to B. A lot of us now need to ride short periods on the roads to get to the bridle paths we can ride on. A lot of horse riders also find the roads stressful and quite often scary. But this is our way of enjoying our hobby. And before anyone starts on how horses shouldn’t be on the roads I would like to remind you that you use the roads for pleasure as well. Whether that’s to get to the golf club or football or whatever hobby it is you enjoy. Also the car tax argument won’t work here. Car tax doesn’t cover the maintenance of the roads. Road tax was abolished in 1937 and now the maintenance of the roads is covered by general taxes, so yes we do very much have a right to use them as horse riders.
So now that’s out of the way I would like to make a few promises to you drivers that I know I can take responsibility for myself.
1: I promise that I will always be polite and thank you when you have slowed down for me and my horses.
2: I promise that I will always make sure you can see us by wearing high vis.
3: I promise that I will make sure my horses are desensitised as best as possible to everything that could possibly scare them and that I will do my best to teach them to stand nicely when needed.
4: I promise that if I am on a narrow country lane and you are waiting very kindly behind me that I will move into a lay-by where possible and it’s safe to do so to let you pass.
5: I promise to try and ride at quieter times as to be honest there is no enjoyment in rush hour anyway.
6: I also promise to be friendly and if you want to say hello to my girls you are more than welcome too! They love meeting new people.
I cant speak for all horse riders and I do know there some awful horse riders as well as drivers who can be rude and bad road users. Its frustrating as at the end of the day 99.9% of us just want to stay safe and enjoy our horses.
But there are just a couple of things I would like to ask if you could do to keep us safe.
Please pass wide and slow. Although I know my girls are excellent on the roads they could still spook or step out sideways without any warning and I know that’s more than possible for a lot of horses. They are live animals with their own opinions, thoughts and emotions which even with all the education in the world means they could react and just like I wouldn’t want to be hit I can’t imagine that you want a horse through your windscreen either.
Please don’t rev your engine or beep your horn. I am constantly vigilant on the road and believe me I know you are there and also believe me I am looking for a way to get you past me so you can be on your way. Revving your engine or beeping your horn is only going to cause the horse stress or to react which will mean you will be waiting longer or at worst cause an accident.
Please be cautious coming around bends on country roads. Those bends terrify me when I am driving and on horseback and I can’t believe the speeds people take them at when they don’t know what’s on the other side. Tractor, horse riders, hikers, cyclists. Not being cautious is life threatening to you and others. And an extra 10 seconds on your journey is surely worth the life of another person or animal?
So that’s all I ask, I hope it’s not too much and that you do see some value in my life and my horses. I would also like to thank all the amazing drivers who are out there and we meet regularly. I am so grateful that you value the lives of others enough to slow down its greatly appreciated.
Have a wonderful weekend whatever your hobby or passion! And stay safe on the roads!
Ami, Pearl and Spring xx