We know that horses aren’t technically pets but we wanted to include a blog post about horses here at Ballymena Today during out pet themed month. Ballymena is a brilliant town because to town centre has everything we need however if you drive for ten minutes in any direction you are likely to be in the countryside. As you are driving around you will see lots of horses grazing in the local fields.

Horses on the road - Ballymena

The odds are that at some point you have been driving an either ended up behind or met horses on the road. Passing horses can be a nervous time for the horse, its rider and drivers so here is some advice from a government road safety website.

Horses are large powerful animals but they can easily panic and bolt if startled. The consequences to drivers, their car, the horse and its rider can be horrendous. By following some basic advice, drivers and riders can help avoid accidents involving horses on the road. 

The facts

  • 11 horse riders were killed and 116 seriously injured in collisions with motor vehicles, in the five years to 2015.
  • Horses can weigh more than half a tonne – they are easily scared by noise and may panic around fast-moving vehicles.

Advice for motorists

  • Slow down and be ready to stop if necessary
  • Look out for riders’ signals to slow down or stop
  • Watch out for sudden movements, horses can be easily frightened and unpredictable
  • Don’t sound your horn or rev your engine
  • Pass wide and slow when overtaking; giving the horse plenty of room. Don’t accelerate rapidly once you have passed them.
  • On roundabouts, horse riders will keep to the left within the roundabout until reaching their exit, when they will signal left. They will normally signal right only when approaching exits they don’t intend to use

Advice for horse riders

  • Always display fluorescent/reflective clothing on both horse and rider whatever the weather or light conditions

  • If at all avoidable, don’t ride in failing light, fog or darkness. Avoid icy or snowy roads

  • If riding a horse that is not used to roads, ask a rider with a horse who is experienced and calm to accompany you

  • Never take a mounted group of more than eight horses on the road

  • If riding two abreast, move into single file as soon as it is safe for the motorist to overtake. Don’t ride more than two abreast on the road

  • Always cross major crossings in a group, rather than trickling across one by one

  • Leave details of your intended route and estimated time of return with a responsible person (Source)

Personally I found this information very useful as I’m never sure how to deal with horses who are taken out and about, especially on narrow country roads. If you live in an area which is regularly used by horse owners to exercise their horses then pleas consider sharing this on Facebook and Twitter. That way we can share the conversation and all be prepared when we meet horses on the road.