Horses on the road ahead? Follow the Highway Code’s advice

Horses are very special creatures, having an amazingly strong bond with humans. They have similar family structures to humans with male and female horses staying together and their offspring only leaving the nest once they’re mature.

The domestication of wild horses goes back to as early as 10,000BC when humans began to learn how to tame and ride horses. As they became more domestic they chose to remain close to humans of their own free will and, of course, this bond still exists today.

Most horses are now companion and therapy animals and humans greatly value their relationships. Many people treat them as pets and ride them for fun or keep a stable to teach others how to ride.

A recent article about a rider who was struck by a speeding vehicle has highlighted the need to take extra care on the roads when passing horses and riders. The driver had ignored the rider’s repeated requests for him to slow down and when the horse was spooked into the path of the car, he was struck and the rider thrown over the top, landing on her hip in the road.

The horse broke his shoulder and jaw and the rider suffered permanent damage to her hip, preventing her from joining the army, which she had been planning to do. They have both now recovered physically, but they will never be the same again mentally. The rider said, “It’s ruined my life”. Even though she received personal injury compensation, her life will never be the same because the driver refused to consider other road users.

It’s always useful to remind ourselves of the ways to keep ourselves and others safe wherever we are, so what does the Highway Code say about animals on the road?

  • Drive slowly when passing animals in the road. Give them plenty of room and be prepared to stop.
  • Do not sound your horn, rev your engine or accelerate rapidly when you’ve passed them.
  • Keep your speed down at bends and on narrow country roads and watch out for animals on unfenced roads.
  • If the road is blocked by a herd of animals, stop and switch off your engine until they have moved off the road.
  • Be particularly careful of horse riders and horse-drawn vehicles. Always pass them wide and slowly allowing a minimum of 2 metres of space.
  • Take extra care if the rider is a child or being escorted in double file by an experienced rider.
  • When you see a horse on the road, slow to a maximum speed of 10mph.
  • Be patient and wait until it is safe to pass the animal.
  • Feral or semi-feral horses such as in the New Forest, deserve the same consideration as ridden horses when approaching and passing.
  • Treat all horses as potential hazards; they can be unpredictable even if the rider is very experienced. Horses can move incredibly quickly if they’re startled.

At Simpkins & Co we see clients who have suffered needless injury through no fault of their own. If you’ve had any kind of accident within the last 3 years that wasn’t your fault, we may be able to help you get compensation and rehabilitation. Our lawyers are very experienced and all of them are members of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL).

Call us on 01425 275555, email or fill in the contact form on our website We will give you a free consultation to discuss whether you have a claim. All enquiries are strictly confidential and there is never any pressure to proceed.


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