I trust my horse with my life and he trusts me with his. This bond is everything to me!
When we are out hacking we spend a very small amount of our time on the roads (approx 10 mins). This suits us perfectly and I am certain that it is what other road users would prefer too if they were given the option. I only relaxed this morning when I reached my friend to ride around the woods together.
To get to the woods we had to spend more of our journey on the road than usual (approx 20 mins of a 3 hour ride) and I found that at times it destroyed my faith in humanity but equally restored it. I keep my horse in an equestrian town – almost every time that you drive around here you will encounter horses on the road (and cyclists). Yet a few individuals this morning had such little regard for road safety that it blew my mind. Sadly this extended beyond car drivers and included other would-be vulnerable road users. The worst of which was a motorbike rider who rode towards us in a very calm collected manner, but upon seeing us and making eye contact with me, proceeded to rev his engine and make as much noise as possible beside us. I have no idea why he chose to do this, he was not a young kid messing about, he was an older man who should have known better. My first thought was a hope that something similar would happen to him but then I thought actually I wouldn’t wish that feeling of risk and fear on anyone.
At one point we were riding down a busy road and approaching a traffic island – presumably placed there to slow traffic down – I stopped to allow traffic to pass before moving towards it. As we were almost level with it a car flew up behind us and nipped between us and the traffic island. Unfortunately this is not an uncommon encounter on the roads (be it be on horse back or when I’m in my car). As the driver sped past us they drove over something that made a noise and spooked my horse. When he spooked, his legs went everywhere and we skidded and spun in the road for what felt like a lifetime. When we set off again the car that was behind the impatient driver drove very slowly and gave us a wide berth, when level with us he opened his window and asked if we were ok. As much as it shocked me that the impatient driver was in such a rush they couldn’t wait half a minute for it to be safe to pass, or check that we were ok, it also shocked me in a very positive way that the second driver took the time to slow down and check on us.
Something that I noticed today is that leisure cyclists on our off-road hacks are generally much more considerate and polite than the road cyclists that we came across today, who took unnecessary risks around all other road users – not just horses. The majority of cyclists today had zero consideration for us, anybody else on the road or even their own safety. Why are they so much more considerate on the greenway or in the woods when there is surely a greater risk on the roads?!
Leo and I are lucky to have miles of accessible off-road hacking from the livery yard that we are on. When I am out riding, my horse is a part of me. Leo is my best friend, my family, my everything and if he is hurt I am hurt. I look after him to the best of my ability and he trusts me to keep him safe. One of my biggest fears is something happening to him and it is upsetting to have his (our) safety put in jeopardy just because somebody is so wrapped up in themselves that they cannot spare a few seconds to slow down and make sure that no harm comes to anyone.
When on the road I try to be as considerate as possible – I move out of the way or trot through narrow areas, I allow other road users to pass wherever possible, I thank people for their patience or for slowing down, I wear hi-vis, I say good morning/afternoon to pedestrians and bicyclists, I avoid busy times, I follow the rules of the road and follow the Highway Code. As a child I was brought up to treat others how I would wish to be treated and as an adult it hurts me that not everybody has that same mentality. The road…… The world would be a much nicer place if we all gave each other a little bit of respect and showed some consideration. Please pass wide and slow!