Posted on 31st October 2021
According to a recent survey carried out by The British Horse Society (BHS) and funded by the Department for Transport (DfT), equestrians and their horses are being subjected to alarming levels of stress and risk. This is believed to be the biggest ever equestrian safety survey involving over 7,000 participants!
Only 3% of equestrians said they never felt stressed/anxious when using roads while 43% did so more than half the time. By far, the main contributors to this stress/anxiety were considered to be the behaviour of other road users (93%) and the characteristics of the road (62%). The majority of equestrians agreed that exercise was important to maintain their horse’s mental and physical health. Most felt they could not exercise their horse adequately without using roads; 60% felt that having to use or cross certain roads limited their ability to exercise with their horses and between 60-70% thought that they would exercise their horses more frequently and cover greater distances if they felt safer when using roads. This makes it clear why more than ever before, horse owners are increasingly seeking yards with access to off-road routes or situated close to quiet lanes and byways. The results confirm the worries that equestrians face are not only affecting their enjoyment but it is also negatively impacting the amount of exercise horses and their riders and handlers are getting.
In order to place the perception of risk equestrians felt when using roads into context, participants were asked to express the level of risk they associated with other equestrian activities, ranging from routine handling and care to high-speed activities in open spaces. Riding, carriage driving and in-hand activities on roads were considered considerably more high risk in relation to all other activities; including eventing or cross-country jumping which was considered more of a moderate rather than high-risk activity.
It was encouraging that 98% of equestrians reported using safety measures such as wearing high visibility clothing and riding helmets when using roads. However, only 22% reported using a camera. 78% of equestrians said they had experienced an incident while using roads with their horse (the majority experiencing more than 10) that they did not officially report, with only 31% having previously reported to the police and/or the BHS.
You can download the full report here: Horse Incident Reporting Awareness Study
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