How do you keep safe out on the roads? Our roads get busier every year and campaign group Better Transport recently reported that over the last 20 years there has been a 47% increase in traffic on the roads. Limited access to bridleways or route restrictions often means riding on a busy road is unavoidable. There are many things you can do to make yourself feel safer when out and about:
Don’t be a dark horse
By wearing Hi-Viz clothing, you are giving other road users the best chance to see you. You will be giving drivers an extra three seconds to react to seeing you, this may not sound much but you are effectively giving the driver an additional 40metres of stopping distance if they are travelling at 30mph, that’s the length of a standard riding arena!
Inform a friend
Always tell someone where you’re going and approximately how long you will be out for.
Make sure your mobile phone battery is fully charged, so you can always contact someone if needed.
Are you covered?
Have you got public liability insurance? In the unfortunate event that your horse damages property, a vehicle, or escapes from their field and ends up on a road this type of insurance will come in handy and will give you peace of mind when out hacking. Check out the Harry Hall One Club Gold riding insurance if you need this cover.
Watch the clock
Be mindful of the time of day. Sometimes we’re limited to riding out at certain times due to work or other commitments but if your horse is nervous in traffic try to avoid riding on the roads between 8-10 am and 4-6 pm. These times are “rush hour” for drivers so there will be more traffic on the roads and it’s likely that drivers will be trying to get from A to B quickly without much consideration for other road users.
Lacking confidence when hacking out?
Hacking should be a fun time for both horse and rider, giving you time to relax and unwind. But not all horses or riders find it a relaxing experience, here are a few tips that may help you and your horse:
Tips for nervous riders
If you’re feeling nervous, your horse is likely to pick up on this and could become anxious too. Try hacking out with a friend who is more confident, you and your horse will gain confidence from an experienced hacking buddy. You could even ask someone to come out on foot or bike as moral support – the perfect steppingstone to give your confidence a boost before deciding to ride solo.
Keep it interesting
Mix up your riding route. If your ride becomes repetitive, your horse will anticipate where you’re going next and predict when he’s turning away from which could lead to napping.
Variety is key
Bring in some changes of pace but try not to ask for them in the same place on every ride. For example, try walk-trot transitions between lamp posts on the road, this will help to keep focus and plus it’s great for fitness!
Keep their focus
If your horse can be spooky try and keep his focus on what you’re asking rather than looking for things to spook at. Riding shoulder-in will engage his brain, divert his attention and help you to prevent the spook from happening.
But most of all remember it should be fun! Happy riding, Harry Hall xx