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Stay Safe When Riding Horses Near RoadsBy Kentucky Equine Research Staff · October 18, 2013

Autumn, with its cooler temperatures and colorful landscapes, is a wonderful time for trail riding. It’s great fun to spend an afternoon with your friends and their horses, making your way through the woods or along a grassy ridgetop. However, trail riding at any season is likely to involve some riding along or on a road where there is also vehicular traffic. Remember these tips to stay safe near roadways.

  • Horses may have the right of way, but riders need to keep in mind that drivers may not be watching for horses, even at designated crossing spots. It is the responsibility of the rider to watch for cars and to stay at a safe distance from them.
  • Make eye contact with motorists who are approaching or have stopped to let horses cross. Never assume you have been seen unless the other person is looking at you and indicates he has seen you and your horse.
  • When you need to cross a road, choose a place where you can see well in both directions. Stop and listen for cars before crossing. With more than one horse, it’s quickest and safest if all horses cross at the same time. Have everyone stay in line as you ride parallel to the road; then at a spoken signal, everyone should turn and cross the road together. This minimizes the time that horses are on the pavement and avoids having some horses on one side and some on the other.
  • Horses, both shod and barefoot, may slip on paved road surfaces. Keep riding on roads to a minimum. Walk horses rather than using a faster gait when it’s necessary to be on roadways, stay balanced, and don’t ask the horse for sudden moves or turns.
  • Trail boots may give horses better traction on hard-surfaced roads.Trail riding near roads is not the time for schooling young or unpredictable horses. Be sure that the level of skill of both horses and riders is adequate for the trail you select. Make safety the first priority on the ride; do the schooling at home before bringing a young or spooky horse off familiar property.
  • Be clear of any roads well before dusk. As a precaution, bring lights and reflective vests and boots in case the ride is delayed for any reason, putting you on or near roads when the daylight begins to fade.