INFORMATION FOR DRIVERS
The average motorist is not familiar with horses and may be unaware that horses can become easily startled, posing a danger to both rider and motorist alike. They also may not know that even the most quiet and calm horses can sometimes trip and, because of their size and weight, have to take a few steps sideways in order to get their body and legs under control again.
Motorists should always be aware that horses are unpredictable. In fact, a rider on a young or frightened horse may have their hands too full keeping the animal under control to be able to signal.
It’s imperative to always pass horses slowly and give them a wide berth.
YOU SHOULD KNOW THAT…
Drivers should watch out for horses on the road, especially on rural roads or in equestrian communities where you see a sign like this:
Horses are large powerful animals that often weigh over 1000 pounds, so a collision with one poses considerable risk to the motor vehicle and its occupants, as well as to the horse and rider. Collisions between a horse and car often result in major damage to the car and can result in injury and death to the driver as well as the rider and the horse – Let’s all be safe!
Be aware that riders are often children, and therefore less experienced as both road users and horse riders. Horses themselves may be inexperienced and nervous of traffic.
WHAT TO DO
When passing a horse and rider on the road, please exercise more caution than you would when passing a pedestrian or cyclist. Due to a horse’s unpredictable nature, they must be given additional distance and attention when passing, so be prepared to stop quickly if necessary.
Loud or sudden noises can frighten horses: Don’t yell or honk, and if you have a loud stereo, please turn it down.
Never brake or accelerate suddenly, both of which cause noise and may throw up gravel.
Never throw things out your window at them.
If driving a particularly noisy vehicle, a motorcycle, or pulling a trailer please exercise extra caution. Please be aware that horses are animals and not machines; they will react! When you are well past the horse, accelerate gradually and be on your way.
If the horse appears particularly nervous, stop and wait for the rider to either enter a driveway or wave you by. It is better to wait until the horse is back under the rider’s control than to risk passing them.
PLEASE SLOW DOWN
Horses have the right to use public roads, and motorists have a legal obligation to “slow down”. It is reckless driving to operate a motor vehicle without due caution and regard for the safety of others.
Obey the speed limit
Pay attention to the horse and slow down while it’s still well ahead of you
Motorists should understand the needs and vulnerability of riders and horses and behave courteously towards them at all times. By learning how to share the road, riders and motorists can work together to prevent tragedies.
Slow down and pass wide! Please don’t rev your engines.
FOR CYCLISTS & PEDESTRIANS
Speak up! Give verbal warning when approaching a horse and be prepared to stop if a rider asks. For your safety and theirs, please pass single file and to the outside. Never pass between two horses.
FOR DOG OWNERS
A horse may perceive a loose or running dog as a predator or a threat. If the horse spooks or bolts, it can injure itself or its rider. In addition, a horse can seriously injure or kill a dog with a lightning fast kick or strike. For your dog’s sake, as well as your own protection, if you see a horse approaching, please ensure that your dog is on a leash.