Horse Riders

Horse Riders


This document has been compiled to highlight and summarise current road safety aspects related to horse riders on public roads.

Three different groups must be considered in terms of horse rider safety: the horse riders, the motorist or other road user, and the horses themselves. It is imperative that the safety of these groups is achieved and maintained. The effective use of policies, initiatives and education may prove to be useful tools in carrying out this task.

Relevant statistics are gathered by both the NHS (Hospital Episode Statistics; HES) and the Department for Transport (STATS19 data). The HES data show that there was a small increase in the number of emergency hospital admissions of animal-riders or occupants of animal drawn vehicles in 2012 compared to 2011. However, it is unknown how many of those admitted were injured on public roads and the relevance of this increase to road safety is unclear.

Motorists and horse riders are not always aware of the same hazards on the roads. The perception that riders are always in control of their animals, and drivers are generally well protected in their cars, can be false. This view may lead to a decreased hazard perception by the driver, which may in turn cause them to engage in ‘automatic driving’ and failure to manoeuvre around horse riders correctly.

Other perception related factors regarding horse rider road safety may include drivers feeling that horse riders are not legitimate road users, and are therefore invading the space of those who have no option but to travel on the roads.

Chapman and Musselwhite (2011) recommend training and education for drivers in terms of skills and knowledge. Although this is available in the updated Highway Code, this information may not reach all road users.

In order to highlight the importance of road safety among its members, the British Horse Society (BHS) has been running the BHS Riding and Road Safety test for over 30 years. In conjunction with this, the BHS also aims to encourage the voluntary reporting of horse riding accidents and ‘near misses’ in order to increase awareness of the hazards that horse riders face.

In support of this, the Highway Code has been altered to include horse riders and offers some advice to both equestrians and motorists on how to stay safe. Horse riders are also included under rule 215 ‘Road Users Requiring Extra Care’. The Highway Code mentions laws relating to the use of helmets for children riders under 14; however, no other laws exist relating to the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) whilst horse riding.

Other organisations, such as the British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA) have re-certified various items of PPE in order to ease the confusion of riders who wish to purchase these goods.


  • Date Added: 03 Apr 2012, 08:21 AM
  • Last Update: 27 Jan 2017, 05:12 PM