A new campaign to make Ireland’s roads safer for horse riders has been launched, coinciding with the start of the Dublin Horse Show.
The booklet – ‘Horse Road Safety on Public Roads’ – contains guidelines for both riders and drivers, and is an initiative of the Road Safety Authority (RSA), Horse Sport Ireland (HSI) and An Garda Síochána. The booklet is the first of its kind in Ireland.
Wednesday’s launch was attended by Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe TD, Team Ireland Equestrian u25 eventing squad member Melanie Young, and members of the Garda Mounted Unit.
The booklet will provide road-users and horse riders with prescriptive advice on using the roads safely together. It provides practical information for drivers and riders such as: how to ride, lead or drive horses on the road; rider clothing and safety equipment; road signs and signalling; how to behave at junctions; and dealing with a riding collision on the road.
Minister Donohoe said Ireland had a proud tradition in equestrian sport at national and international level. “As a result, thousands of people across Ireland enjoy horse-riding both professionally and as a hobby, and so it is important that guidelines are in place for how to share the roads safely with other road-users.
“So this booklet is an important guide for anyone who rides or walks with horses on public roads, and for all road-users who may encounter horses and their riders during their travels.”
Road Safety Authority Chairperson Liz O’Donnell said the RSA regularly received queries from the public who are unsure what to do when sharing the roads with horses.
“I am delighted that the RSA is partnering with HSI to provide these much-needed guidelines to all road-users and to anyone who might be riding, leading or walking with horses on public roads.
“This booklet will help to clarify what the most appropriate behaviour is in certain situations. Horse and riders have every right to be on our roads, but like all other road-users, they must follow the Rules of the Road. So I would encourage people to get a copy of the booklet, familiarise yourself with the guidelines and understand how to share the roads safely.”
Horse Sport Ireland Chief Executive Damian McDonald said there were estimated to be up to 200,000 riding horses in Ireland across the horse-racing and sport horse industry.
“Many of their owners and trainers use public roads to exercise or train their horses or to move them from one location to another, so Horse Sport Ireland is delighted to have a set of guidelines for helping to ensure their safety when using the roads.
“All road users have a duty of care to share the road in a safe and socially responsible way, and horses and their riders are no exception. We will be distributing the booklet to all of our members and encouraging them to share it with their colleagues, friends and family.”
Mark Curran, Chief Superintendent of the Garda National Traffic Bureau, said An Garda Síochána was supportive of any initiative that promotes road safety. “This campaign emphasises the need for all road-users to respect each other on the roads, to be aware that there are different modes of transport and to be better informed on how to behave appropriately in certain situations. Please remember that horses can be unpredictable and easily spooked, therefore always give them a wide birth and pass with great care.”
The booklet will be available at Driving Test Centres, Theory Test Centres, Garda Stations, libraries, as well as being available to download (2MB PDF). Horse Sport Ireland will also be distributing copies to their members.
The booklet has the following tips for motorists and riders when sharing the roads:
• Always make sure that drivers can see you at all times regardless of weather conditions. Wear proper protective gear, high-visibility clothing and put high-visibility equipment on your horse.
• Position yourself between the horse being led and the traffic so that you have maximum control over the horse, while leading, or riding and leading.
• Give clear and accurate hand signals to let other road users know your intentions.
• Remain alert, attentive and observant. Remember the Life Saver Look at junctions – it could save your life.
• Be alert when approaching riding schools or places where horses are likely to appear;
• Take special care when overtaking horses, especially loose horses or horse-drawn vehicles. This is particularly relevant at junctions where motorists are advised to keep a safe distance from horses and riders;
• Pass by slowly, driving wide of the horse and rider;
• Don’t use your horn or lights in a way that might startle or blind a horse. This could cause the rider to lose control of the animal.