Stay safe out hacking!
We are delighted to introduce guest blogger Kate Harley to The Grooms List. Kate, a professional dressage groom and head girl to an international dressage rider, started her blog A Grooms Life to share her day to day grooming experiences and to give aspiring young grooms an insight into being a groom and the equestrian industry. Kate regularly contributes guest blogs to our partners the British Grooms Association. In her first contribution to The Grooms List Kate talks about hacking safely, on and off-road. Well worth a read and sharing with your friends – horsey and non-horsey!
By Kate Harley
Now the clocks have changed and the evenings are darker and unfortunately the weather is only going to worse. With this in mind I thought I’d just take a look at and talk about hacking safely throughout the year.
I personally have encountered many rude and disrespectful drivers, walkers, dog walkers and even other horse riders. I’m sure many of you reading this will also have encountered this or know someone that has.
So what can we do as horse riders to make our hacking experiences as positive and enjoyable as possible?
Wear high viz clothing – make yourself as visible as possible! There are so many great products available these days there really is no excuse not to at least wear a tabard. You can get tabards that say different things such as ‘please pass wide and slow’, ‘caution young horse’, the ‘polite’ tabards seem to be really good at slowing drivers down. Some people also wear hat cams to encourage drivers to slow down.
Avoid hacking out during peak travel times, especially if you have to ride on busy roads.
Know your Highway Code. Make sure you know exactly what hand signals to use when and what for.
Have company. If your horse is young, nervous or inexperienced go in company with someone on a safe and experienced horse or take someone on foot with you.
Ensure someone knows where you are. As much as possible go out in company in case of an incident, if you can’t go in company then make sure someone knows where you are gong and roughly how long you’ll be.
Bear the weather in mind, don’t go out hacking in fog or if its due to be really heavy rain, wind, thunder, ice, snow etc. Just be sensible.
Be courteous and show consideration for others. Unless you are fortunate enough to have private off road hacking then I’m sure you’ll encounter other riders, walkers and dog walkers, drivers and cyclists. Always be pleasant to others you meet, walk passed others and allow plenty of space where possible, say please and thank you and be polite. If you need to ask people to put dogs on leads or cars to slow down or stop make sure you are clear and polite. If you come across rude and inconsiderate people, don’t retaliate, be the bigger person and politely point out to them the dangers of letting their dogs run loose around horses or cars overtaking to close or quickly.
At the end of the day all of these people have just as much right as us to be in the countryside, we just need to respect each other. Don’t give other horse riders a bad name, we need to help each other to better educate people on how to behave around horses.
The British Horse Society
The BHS (British Horse Society) run a riding and road safety course, this is a great course to give you confidence and awareness for riding out and about and I’d highly recommend doing it. On the BHS website there is an abundance of information on hacking out and riding on the road.
In 2016 the BHS also launched the campaign DEAD? OR DEAD SLOW? This campaign was launched to encourage drivers to pass horses safely.
From march 2017 – march 2018 over 400 hundred incidents were reported to the BHS, below is a picture of the statistics since they began collating in November 2010.
I think its so important we all try to help educate other road users and people who share the countryside as much as possible to make it a better place for all of us to enjoy. So please download and share the advert and the BHS advice for motorists far and wide.
Remember stay safe, be sensible, be polite!
Here are some great examples of what you can wear high viz wise to help you be seen out hacking! Massive Thank you to my lovely friends for allowing me to use these images!
The BHS “Dead? Or Dead Slow?” Campaign
“Not sure how to pass a horse safely on the road? Please watch and share our video – you could save a life!”