Equestrian Needs Ltd

EquestrianNeeds.com

Introduction to Safer Hacking

Horse riders often enjoy hacking on roads and in the countryside and riders have a right to use the road but both riders and motorists have a responsibility for each others safety.

Horses are powerful animals that can become frightened and panic easily. A collision with one poses considerable risk to the motor vehicle and its occupants, as well as to the horse and rider. Sadly, most riders either know someone who has been involved in an accident, or have had a near miss themselves in the past. The British Horse Society estimates that there are around 3,000 accidents each year.

Before you go out hacking it is important to know the laws and to be aware of the hazards both on and off the road. Even the most quiet and well-behaved horse may jump and fall into the path of an oncoming vehicle.

As a driver you should watch out for horses on the road, especially when approaching bends and on narrow rural roads. You should always slow down and drive past slowly, giving them plenty of room and being ready to stop if necessary. Never sound your horn or rev your engine near horses. You should also be aware that riders are often children, and therefore, less experienced as both road users and horse riders. In addition, the horses themselves may be inexperienced and nervous of traffic.

Remember to acknowledge and thank other road users, good manners are not expensive. If you can't take your hands off the reins and smile or not is good, it might make a difference the next time saving a life. Sometimes road users may not be considerate as you would hope however, in all walks of life there will always be those with little thought for any living person or animal but the majority do care, so it is worth making the effort.

Before Setting Off

  • Ensure riding hats are worn at all times when riding, they should meet standards; EN1384, BSEN1384 and PAS 015, and fit correctly. Highway Code Rule 49 states: Children under the age of 14 years MUST wear a helmet which complies with the Regulations. It MUST be fastened securely.
  • Wear appropriate footwear with hard soles and heels.
  • A body protector may also be worn. Experienced riders may want to carry a whip (a longer whip can help to keeps quarters in)
  • Ensure tack is fitted correctly and is in good condition.
  • Check that your horse’s shoes are not too loose, as this will help prevent him from slipping.
  • Mobile phones are very useful, as a rider can get immediate assistance if they are lost or need emergency services. Avoid using your mobile whilst riding as they can be a distraction and ensure your phone is in a position where it can be easily reached in case of emergency.
  • Make sure you tell someone where you are going before you set off for a hack, especially if you are going alone.
  • You should not carry any passengers or anything else which might affect your balance or become tangled in the reins. Keep both hands on the reins except when signalling and keep both feet in the stirrups.
  • Try and relax when you are out hacking but remain alert and listen out for vehicles. A horse and rider who are half-asleep are more likely to be startled by a sudden noise or movement. Horses are very good at picking up your body language, if you are tense, your horse will sense it, equally if you are confident he will draw confidence from you.

Most of all hacking should be an enjoyable and safe experience for all concerned!

Latest Adverts