How to ride around horses

If you train regularly on quiet country lanes, chances are that, before long, you’ll encounter horses and riders on your travels. The Highway Code suggests that you should be particularly careful when overtaking horse riders and horse-drawn vehicles. Take great care and treat all horses as a potential hazard.

The British Horse Society has produced the following useful information to encourage considerate cycling around horses:

Take care

Horses can be easily frightened, so you should take this into consideration when passing them on the road. The speed at which cyclists pass, the number of cyclists that are passing, the sudden reflection from a bike frame can all cause problems for horses, especially those who are young and inexperienced.

Call out

A horse is unlikely to see or hear you approaching on your bike, especially if you are approaching quietly from behind. Try to call “Hello!” to alert horses and riders that you are there, but try not to get too close before you call out or you will startle both the horse and rider.

If possible, ask the rider if it is safe to pass before attempting to go by, and call again if they haven’t heard you.

If you meet a horse that has been startled by your presence, try to give the rider a chance to calm the horse and move out of your way before you start moving again.

Slow down

If you are taking part in an event or are out for a group ride, you might be trying to ride as quickly as possible, but you should pass slowly with consideration and let the horse rider know you are coming through. A speeding cyclist coming out of the blue may startle some horses and a group of speeding cyclists is even more likely to do so – take great care and if it is obvious you need to stop, then please do so; it may prevent a serious incident.

Pass wide

Most horses are used to traffic passing them on the right so pass them as you would anyone else; don’t cut inside and do allow plenty of room in case the horse is surprised or startled. Horse riders may need to ride two abreast for safety, particularly when escorting a young or inexperienced horse or rider so you should give them a chance to sort themselves out before you pass by.

Pass in small groups

Large groups of cyclists are very scary for horses. Passing in small groups of no more than four or five will really help. If you are in a large group, make your presence known so the horse riders can find somewhere safe to stop, allowing you all to pass at the same time.

Click here for more advice and information from the British Horse Society on considerate cycling around horses.