Safer Road Riding – Only Cats Have 9 Lives!

Forget hunting, eventing or even team chasing – I’ve looked at them all and reckon hacking in traffic on my horse can be more stressful! Here are nine thoughts to improve the odds in our favour and enjoy safer and more pleasant riding!

1. Be seen

Use horse and rider high visibility clothing. There’s no doubt in my mind that it really encourages drivers to notice you and to slow down.

2. Ride the road!

Riding out from the kerbside – until traffic passes has several advantages – namely it encourages vehicles to pull out to pass, and gives you room to move in to the left, as traffic passes meaning you are moving away from passing traffic as you move left – i.e. as you ‘leg yield’ (to the left)

3. Ride two abreast

Provided your horses are steady and unless the road is narrow or has poor sight lines, such as a blind corner, ride side by side. This encourages drivers to pause and think and discourages them from passing too fast. You can always ‘single up’ (as traffic passes).

4. Guard that gap!

When passing parked vehicles move out and use the full carriageway – you don’t want drivers trying to squeeze past as well!

5. Please, please be polite

Hey, you’re not in a hurry, you’re on a horse! If you can, give way to oncoming traffic and pull over to let vehicles pass you safely – drivers think that’s great and will be kinder to horse riders next time. Remember – smile and wave, even if, on occasion, it’s through gritted teeth! There’s no excuse for not acknowledging other road users!

6. Be Proactive

Be confident and give clear hand signals to traffic. Many will welcome them, and most will respect them, though you may, of course, receive the occasional ‘non Highway Code’ signal in return!

7. Plan ahead

Try and avoid road riding at the busiest times, during bin collections or where you know there are road works, and be off road before dark catches up with you. Plan ahead to minimise road use by linking off-road routes as much as possible.

8. Be calm

Sometimes easier said than done, of course, but try not to unsettle your horse.  Look ahead for suitable pull-ins to give you extra room for larger or noisy vehicles or that on-coming stream of cyclists! If you have to go back a few paces to find that safer spot, you’re not in a hurry so view the manoeuvre as good schooling!

9. Be Modern

In addition to wearing high vis, do carry that mobile phone to summon help, consider an air-jacket to soften any fall, and – possibly a head cam to which you can point when oncoming traffic chooses not to slow down!


I hope these thoughts might help you next time you are hacking out in traffic! They are entirely my personal views and are not those of the 14/5 or any other body.

John Rogers