Ongoing study explores horses’ reactions to electric vehicles

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Princess Anne, the Principal Royal, was brought up to speed on ongoing research into how horses react to electric vehicles.

Electric vehicles are sure to have a bright future, but what do horses think of these whisper-quiet vehicles as they glide past?

The question is being addressed in research being carried out at Askham Bryan College in York, England.

Princess Anne, the Princess Royal, was brought up to speed with the ongoing research during a recent visit to the college to attend a road safety awareness event organised by the British Horse Society and the college.

Princess Anne, who is vice-patron of the society, observed electric car demonstrations held by Leeds-based Alfa Power, a company developing an extensive network of electric vehicle charging points across Britain.

Alfa Power is looking into the impact these vehicles have on horse safety, especially when approaching a horse and rider quietly from behind.

A key area of the society’s work is focused on road safety and protecting the safety of equestrians whilst riding on the roads. Askham Bryan College specialises in rural-based courses including equine studies from diploma through to degree level.

Dr Tim Whitaker, acting chief executive and principal of Askham Bryan College said: “We were delighted to welcome the princess to see our college and this ground-breaking study into what is such an important part of road safety for both riders and drivers.

“Our students and staff were thrilled to meet and talk to the Princess, particularly given her tremendous experience and achievements as an accomplished horsewoman.”

Princess Anne was also introduced to college students and lecturers who demonstrated training being undertaken for the society’s Ride Safe Award. The award is designed to equip riders with the skills and knowledge to confidently ride out both on and off the road.

Other demonstrations included the society’s Basic Sensitivity Training, delivered by accredited professional coaches, to train both horses and riders on how they can use very basic methods to ensure their horses are better prepared to ride on the roads and increase their safety.

The British Horse Society launched its Dead Slow campaign in March 2016 after collating road incident statistics on its horse accidents website.

Since 2010, 3758 road incidents have been reported to the society and 315 horses and 43 people have been killed as a result of an incident. Most of these incidents occur due to cars passing by too closely or too quickly.

The Dead Slow campaign aims to better educate drivers on how to pass horses on the road. The key behavioural change messages to drivers are:

If I see a horse on the road then I will …

  • Slow down to a maximum of 15mph;
  • Be patient – do not sound their horn or rev the engine;
  • Pass the horse wide and slow, (if safe to do so) at least a car’s width if possible;
  • Drive slowly away.

2 thoughts on “Ongoing study explores horses’ reactions to electric vehicles

  • September 28, 2019 at 12:54 pm
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    Oh boy – two obvious points:
    1) how much research has ever been done – and prominently/widely reported – into horses’ reactions to roaring or revving combustion engines ?
    I’ve never seen any.
    2) how much research has been done into the reaction and response of pedestrians and cyclists to fumeless, quiet electric cars ? Into our blessed relief at not having to breathe toxic fumes or have engine noise forever destroying rural and and non-rural tranquillity ?
    Maybe a research team could “investigate” the countless benefits that EVs deliver compared to noisy, polluting, fossil-fuelled vehicles ? Then widely and prominently report the inevitable multitude of positive and obvious “findings”…
    Paul G

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  • October 10, 2019 at 1:26 pm
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    Your article is good but leaves out the critical piece which is HOW do horses react to EVs. It is clear that it is NOT just EVs that cause accidents and fatalities because of the statistics of 3758 incidents in the last almost 10 years resulting in about 30 horses and 4 people dying each year. If everyone follows the Dead Slow guidelines, I would think regardless of the vehicle driven, there would be nearly NO incidents.

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