Hitting the road: New guide aims to make road riding a safer horseback experience

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"The roads are potentially dangerous for all users – some are just vulnerable for different reasons."
Photo by AllWork

South Australia’s equine advocacy group Horse SA has released an updated safety booklet giving guidance to riding horses on the roads.

Horse SA has released a booklet "Horse Safety on the Road in Australia".The new booklet, Horse Safety on the roads in Australia, has a foreword by equine researcher Dr Kirrilly Thompson, who in 2015 published findings from a survey where more than half of all riders (52%) reported having experienced at least one accident or near miss in the previous 12 months.

Thompson, who is vice-chair of The Horse Federation of SA and Pony Club Australia’s Participation and Development Manager, spent a decade of her academic career conducting research on horse rider safety. “The roads are potentially dangerous for all users – some are just vulnerable for different reasons,” she says.

“Unlike other road users, horse riders need to accommodate a sentient decision-making animal into their road-use experience. Riders must be continually assessing themselves, their situation and their horses – who can behave differently from day to day, if not minute to minute.”

The guide covers all aspects of road riding including preparation, hand signals, emergency dismounts, travelling in a horse trailer, leading a horse on the road, and a skills checklist. Guidance on using other areas such as bike lanes and shared pathways and recreational trails are also included.

Horse safety on the roads in Australia is an educational resource and is not a replacement for the country’s road rules, or state, provincial regional or local regulations or by-laws. All horse riders and handlers should be familiar with the road rules specific to their own area.

Horse riders and handlers should be familiar with the road rules specific to their own area.
Horse riders and handlers should be familiar with the road rules specific to their own area.

Horse SA has also released a single-page companion guide on sharing the road with horse riders, aimed at helping others to know how they may best pass horses on roads, pathways and trails.

Riders are urged to share both guides with their non-riding friends.

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One thought on “Hitting the road: New guide aims to make road riding a safer horseback experience

  • May 27, 2021 at 3:14 pm
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    Here in New Zealand many drivers haven’t a clue. Some even shout at you to get off the road! And the AA’s guide to road rules is nearly silent on the subject. The fact is, drivers need to be actively TAUGHT how to accommodate horses on the road. They need to be taught that, yes, in law, horses are vehicles, to pass wide and slow, that a horse with its head up and not going forward is about to do something unfortunate, and that 500kg of muscle and bone over their bonnet as a result of precipitating said unfortunate event by being a dick is likely to result in, at the very least, an epic panel beating bill.

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