Horse Riding Road Safety – will a lack of Hi-Viz leave you high and dry?
Imagine, heaven forbid, you and your horse have an accident on the road involving a vehicle. A couple of days later, a police officer turns up at your door to hear your version of events. Regardless of whether it is a bright sunshiny summer’s day or a bleak dank day in midwinter, there is a very high probability the first question you will be asked is: ‘Were you wearing Hi-Viz?’
The answer you offer to this one question will determine the route the rest of investigation takes. Giving a ‘yes’ answer to this question eliminates many others. All of a sudden, you are likely to be less liable because you did everything in your control to ensure you were visible to other road users. Hi-Viz not only ensures you are safe in low light, but it also helps to ensure you are seen from a distance and in those shady spots where the trees overhang. It’s therefore imperative that you take horse riding road safety very seriously.
There are such a huge variety of Hi-Viz garments on offer now, you’ll be spoilt for choice! Not only jackets, vests and hat bands for riders but boots, tail bands and exercise sheets for horses too.
It goes without saying, on a day-by-day basis we must make sensible decisions about whether riding on the road is safe. If you are driving to the yard yourself, consider the visibility and whether you have had to pull your sun visor down; turn lights on or use windscreen wipers on your journey- each of these are easy indications of a reduction in visibility. When out and about on your horses, never try to predict or pre-empt another road users’ intentions. You are only ever in control of your own actions: It is fair to say that when riding horses, we cannot ever fully predict how they will react in new or unexpected situations- exercise safety and caution at all times- You know your horse best.
Let Common Sense Prevail
Protect yourself out on your riding adventures. Being prepared and taking the proper precautions will ensure your fun is not cut short unnecessarily. When heading out on a hack, make sure someone knows where you are going.
Having an I.C.E (in case of emergency) contact on your phone makes perfect sense. If you do have an accident, your nearest and dearest will be alerted sooner if these details are readily available. Another good App to have on your phone is the What3Words app; The emergency services are used to using this app and it is a Godsend when we are riding in locations which are more remote. Instead of trying to describe the location, the What3Words app will pin point a very specific grid location making it much easier for you to be found.
A great device that can help with horse riding road safety, is a smart watch. Apple Watches for example contain a feature which detects when you fall, and can alert the emergency services of your behalf. A great thing to have if you have a nasty fall and become unconscious.
Although technology can be our friend, the most important thing when out riding is to stay present and avoid being distracted. When horses are involved, there is never room for complacency. If placed in an unexpectedly stressful situation, particularly if they are in pain or frightened, even the
calmest of horses can display uncharacteristic behaviour!