Be Seen and Be Safe!
A 2015 survey by the British Equestrian Trade Association revealed that there are over 2.7 million horse riders in the United Kingdom. It is a pleasure and a privilege to be able to ride a horse and you don’t want to just have to limit the experience to summer days and secluded fields. Riding on the roads can allow horses and their riders the freedom to get out further, to more interesting areas, but it can also throw up a host of safety issues. Autumn and winter mean shorter days and gloomier weather and the risks associated with taking a horse out to hack unfortunately increase.
The Highway Code gives priority to horse riders over cars but it isn’t always that simple. It can be difficult for drivers to spot horses on winding country roads and even more so when it is dark, so part of ensuring safety on the road is the responsibility of the horse rider. Most cars will slow down once they see a horse, giving the animal a wide berth and following any instructions the rider may give them to avoid spooking. The key thing is to give those drivers the time to see the horse.
Stand Out This Winter
Whilst the Highway Code advises riders that it is safer not to ride on the road at night or in poor visibility, there are certain measures you can put in place that could protect you and your horse should you do. It is estimated that high-visibility clothing allows drivers to see a horse and rider up to three seconds sooner. For a car travelling along a country road at 60 mph, this would be the equivalent distance of three quarters of a standard football pitch. High-visibility clothing can be purchased relatively inexpensively and is available everywhere, so it could well be a sensible investment.
Meet The Standard
Where possible, try to use high-visibility clothing that conforms to a BSI approved standard. Non-professional riders should be looking for high-visibility garments that conform to BS EN1150, while professional riders are advised to look for items that conform to BS EN471. There are is a wide range of high visibility clothing from hat covers, jackets, tabards and leg bands for the horse, to be positioned between the fetlock joint and the knee. Standard-conforming high-visibility clothing is both reflective and fluorescent, and comes in a number of colours such as yellow, pink and orange.
It’s advisable that horse riders wear high-visibility clothing throughout the year, regardless of whether it is dark or not. With this in mind, it might be useful to think about where you will be riding. A bright pink tabard may not stand out so well if you are riding amongst blossoming Azalea bushes!
Of course, it goes without saying that once clad in standard-conforming high-visibility gear, you will still need to adhere to all of the normal safety advice relevant to horse riders. Wear the right helmet, make sure your saddlery and tack are in good condition, take care of motorists and if unsure, avoid busy roads or come off them altogether.
Protective clothing is one way of avoiding unfortunate incidents but it might be worth looking into additional protection as well. www.horse-insurance.co.uk offer a range of benefits such as Public Liability and Personal Accident. With a 40% Intro discount and an additional 5% Multi-horse discount, you could be a bright spark this winter!
Visit www.horse-insurance.co.uk today to find out more.
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