Saddle Up and Ride's Guide for Hacking the Safe Way
For equestrians, taking their horses out for a hack is one of the most enjoyable aspects of horse riding. Whether you're venturing out onto quiet country lanes or navigating more bustling roads, the experience can be both therapeutic and invigorating. However, the unpredictable nature of roads means it's crucial to ensure the safety of both horse and rider. Here are some indispensable tips for equestrians to stay safe when hacking out.
1. Wear High-Visibility Gear
- Make sure both you and your horse are easily visible to other road users, especially in low-light conditions. Wear high-visibility vests, leg bands, and hat bands. Consider using reflective gear for your horse, such as tail guards or exercise sheets.
2. Plan Your Route
- Familiarize yourself with the route you plan to take. Avoid busy roads whenever possible and aim to ride during off-peak hours. If you're riding in an unfamiliar area, ask local riders or stables for advice on the best routes.
3. Always Wear a Helmet
- A certified riding helmet is essential for protection. Ensure it fits correctly and doesn’t have any visible defects or past impact damage.
4. Ride Defensively
- Just as drivers are taught defensive driving, equestrians should practice defensive riding. Always anticipate potential problems and have a plan for unexpected situations like a car coming too fast or a dog running out.
5. Use Clear Hand Signals
- Communication is key. When turning or stopping, always signal clearly to let drivers know your intentions. Make sure you know the hand signals for 'turning left', 'turning right', and 'stopping'.
6. Avoid Riding in the Dark or in Bad Weather
- Visibility is crucial. Poor lighting and adverse weather conditions make it challenging for drivers to see you and can spook or disorient your horse.
7. Stay Alert and Listen
- Avoid using headphones. It's essential to hear approaching vehicles, particularly those coming from behind.
8. Ride in Single File
- When riding with others, always ride in single file on the road, especially on narrow lanes or when vehicles are approaching.
9. Train Your Horse
- A well-trained horse is less likely to panic in traffic. Gradually expose your horse to traffic in a controlled environment before heading out on busier roads.
10. Stay Calm
- Horses can pick up on a rider's emotions. If a situation arises, staying calm and collected can prevent your horse from panicking.
11. Carry a Mobile Phone
- In case of an emergency, it's essential to have a means of communication. Store your phone in a secure pocket or pouch, and consider sharing your live location with a friend or family member when hacking out.
12. Ride with a Companion
- Whenever possible, ride with a fellow equestrian. There's safety in numbers, and a companion can assist if an unexpected situation arises.
In conclusion, the joy of hacking out should not be overshadowed by risks. By following these safety tips and always being prepared, equestrians can enjoy their rides while minimizing the potential dangers that come with sharing the road. Remember, the key is to be visible, vigilant, and always prioritize safety above all else. Safe riding!
The Highway Code
The Highway Code was updated on 29 January 2022. The BHS have worked hard over the last three years; lobbying and collaborating with Cycling UK, DVSA, Living Streets and the Department for Transport (DfT) to suggest the much-needed Highway Code improvements and to represent equestrians in the review.
Visit the Gov.uk website for more information on the changes to the Highway Code.