Ayr & District Advanced Motorists are a local group affiliated to the Institute of Advanced Motorists

Horse Sense

There are over 3 million horse riders in Great Britain.
There are 8 horse related incidents each day.
5 Riders are killed each year.
Over 50% of all road accidents happen on minor roads.

Share Responsibility

Motorists and horse riders both have a right to use Britain's roads and share a responsibility to understand each others needs. Horse riders would prefer not to have to use the roads but many have to if they are to enjoy their animals, keep them fit and healthy and reach other off road areas such as beaches or bridle paths. Be courteous to each other.

About the horse

The horse is a 'flight' animal. This means that at the first hint of danger or stress the horse's natural impulse is to run away. Danger to a horse can be anything from meeting a tractor on a narrow road, the toot of a horn, a fluttering piece of rubbish or just an unfamiliar smell or sound.

Become 7 feet wide

On sensing the danger the horse may jump sideways, turn around or move in any direction very quickly. A horse might only be 2 ft wide from behind, but it can instantly turn and become 7ft wide. They are capable of scuttling or jumping sideways - always away from what's scared them and can easily move 3 ft into the road in an instant.

Time and Space

Give them time and space! If the rider signals you to stop for a moment, please do. The rider knows of a potential reaction from the horse and is simply asking for a bit of space to regain full control. This will make the situation safer for you and the horse. Give a horse a bit more room when overtaking than you would with a car - it only takes a fraction of a second for a horse to become wider than a car. Pass them slowly but don't crawl along behind a horse for ages - this makes it think that a predator is stalking them.

Out of a Circus

If a horse is behaving like something out of a circus, hang well back but not tight against the verge since that could become the horse's escape-route. Switching off the car engine can help since that cuts out the noise allowing the horse to hear the rider better. Treat horses as potential hazards and expect the unexpected.

Liz McEwan