If you cycle on UK roads, especially rural roads - you will be all too familiar with the other road users that you have to share the road network with. Typically, as cyclists we can come across walkers, motorists as well as horse riders. Passing horses and horse riders with just a few of the tips below allow you as a cyclist to pass a horse safely, both on road and off road when road cycling and mountain biking. As well as allowing you both to pass each other safely, these tips prevent reasons and causes for arguments between cyclists and horse riders.
Let the rider know you are there
Ensure that you let the horse rider know that you are in the vicinity when approaching. If you are approaching the horse from behind, remember that a horse has a massive blind spot behind the animal - and you cannot be seen until almost level with the head of the horse.
A ‘good morning’ or something similar usually works best, make sure that you can be heard but do not be too loud, to avoid the risk of the horse spooking. Ideally, the rider will then acknowledge your presence and then tell you anything you need to know about how to pass the horse.
Slow Your Pace
Although it can be frustrating scrubbing off speed when out riding for any reason, it’s important that you slow down and be prepared to come to a complete stop if so required. Regardless of whether you are out recreationally and competing, it’s dangerous to pass horses at speed and certainly does not help equestrian-cyclist relations!
If you are riding with a friend, keep the noise down when passing a horse. Talking whilst exerting yourself cycling can often mean that you speak louder than usual, without realising it. Avoid making any mechanical noises with your bike too as you pass.
Give them plenty of room
If you are riding on the road, it’s a safe bet that horses are used to passing traffic and should be safe to pass within the confines of the road network. Off road this is slightly different, so make sure that you give a horse plenty of room to keep yourself and the rider safe.
Think about horses when you are out riding, look for fresh horse muck and take extra care when you ride near stables and equestrian facilities. Many riders will wear high visibility clothing identifying if the horse is nervous.
Riding in Groups
All of the above information and advice needs to be practiced when riding on your own, as well as when riding in a group. Although it’s very tempting for your group to keep momentum, it’s important that you communicate with your group to pass horse riders safely.
Remember to be polite
Passing Horse Riders can be a frustrating experience, especially when you are timing yourself or even competing. It is vital however, to remain polite and ensure that you do everything you can to protect the reputation of cyclists on a local and national level.