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Community / Campaign to raise awareness of horse riders on the roads

Cars are required to pass horses at least at a car's width.

A SERIES of meetings and training sessions are being held across Shetland during the next few days to promote road safety for horse riders and drivers.

Local road safety trainer Susie Nicolson and the director of safety for the British Horse Society (BHS), Alan Hiscox, are hoping to raise awareness, foster mutual respect on the roads and educate drivers and riders alike.

Nicolson and Hiscox are also meeting local driving instructors, the council’s roads department, local politicians and, if possible with the local Police Scotland road safety officer.

With horse and pony riding being hugely popular in Shetland, motorists are likely to regularly encounter horses and riders on both double lane and single track roads.

Last year 87 horses died on British roads as a result of road traffic accidents.

Director of safety for the British Horse Society (BHS) Alan Hiscox and BHS accredited riding coach Susie Nicolson at Weisdale on Wednesday afternoon. Photo: Hans J Marter/Shetland News

The BHS’s Dead Slow campaign asks drivers to slow down to a maximum of 15mph when approaching horse and rider on a road.

It also requires drivers to be patient, not to sound the horn or rev the engine, and pass the horse at least at a car’s width.

Nicolson said the campaign was not just to raise awareness among drivers but also to educate riders of how to use the roads safely, which includes wearing high-vis jackets, helmets and generally being aware of traffic approaching.

“The Highway Code applies to riders as well,” she said, “and every road user has the right to feel safe.”

She said riders were entitled to use the road in double file – in fact, this is deemed to be much safer because horse and rider are “dominating the lane”.

However, riders needed to be aware of the traffic and be able to pick up trot to either get to the next passing place to let any approach car pass safely, Nicolson said.

“If young are on the road they should have someone with them who has been educated in the new BHS’s Ride Safe award,” she added.

Hiscox urged riders to report any road related incident they encounter to www.horseaccidents.org.uk and to local police.

Free Ride Safe training events over coming days are at: –

  • Thursday 29 August:
    6pm – South Whiteness Riding Club
    7pm – at Brakes, Weisdale. All welcome.
  • Friday 30 August:
    6pm – Filsket Riding Club, Seafield, Lerwick
  • Saturday 31 August:
    2pm – Houlls Horses and Hounds, Bridge End, Burra
    7pm – Social evening at Staney Hill hall, Lerwick, including a talk by Alan Hiscox on his 32 year long career as a mounted police officer in London. All welcome
  • Sunday 1 September:
  • 2pm – Whalsay Pony Club, Challister, Whalsay
  • 7pm – Livister Youth Centre.

For more information please call Susie Nicolson on 07766 710909.