Horses on the Road by New Forest Simpkins and Co Solicitors


Horses are very special creatures, having an incredibly strong bond with humans. They have family structures similar to humans, with male and female horses staying together and their offspring only leaving the nest when mature.

The domestication of wild horses dates back to 10,000 BC. AD, when humans first learned to tame and ride horses. As they became more domesticated, they chose to stay close to humans of their own free will, and of course that bond still exists today.

Most horses are now pets and therapy animals and humans greatly value their relationship. Many people treat them like pets and ride them for fun or keep a stable to teach others how to ride.

A recent article about a rider who was hit by a speeding vehicle highlighted the need to be extra careful on the roads when passing horses and riders. The driver had ignored the rider’s repeated pleas for him to slow down and when the horse spooked into the path of the car, he was struck and the rider was thrown over, landing on his haunch in the road.

The horse broke her shoulder and jaw and the rider suffered permanent damage to her hip, preventing her from joining the army, which she had planned to do. They have both recovered physically, but they will never be the same mentally. The biker said, “It ruined my life.” Even though she received personal injury compensation, her life will never be the same again as the driver refused to consider other road users.

It’s always helpful to remember ways to keep ourselves and others safe wherever we are, so what does the Highway Traffic Act say about animals on the road?

  • Drive slowly when passing animals on the road. Give them plenty of space and be prepared to stop.
  • Don’t honk your horn, rev your engine, or accelerate quickly when you’ve passed them.
  • Reduce your speed on bends and on narrow country roads and watch out for animals on unfenced roads.
  • If the road is blocked by a herd of animals, stop and turn off your engine until they have cleared the road.
  • Pay particular attention to riders and horse-drawn vehicles. Always pass them wide and slowly, leaving a minimum of 2 meters of space.
  • Pay particular attention if the rider is a child or if he is escorted in double file by an experienced rider.
  • When you see a horse on the road, slow down to a maximum speed of 10 mph.
  • Be patient and wait until you can safely pass the animal.
  • Wild or semi-wild horses, as in the New Forest, deserve the same consideration as mounted horses when approaching and passing.
  • Treat all horses as potential dangers; they can be unpredictable even if the pilot is very experienced. Horses can move incredibly quickly if startled.

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