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Horse riding is one of the most rewarding hobbies and past times, with are over 3 million horse riders in the UK alone. There is an estimated 8 accidents involving horses and their riders every day, with an average of 16 riders killed each year – most of which occur on minor and country roads.

Between March 2018 and 2019 it was reported that 87 horses and 4 riders were killed whilst riding on Britain’s roads, with a record 73% of incidents occurring due to vehicles passing too closely

Common Injuries

Horse riding ranked as the 9th most dangerous sporting activity, marginally beaten by boxing, gymnastics and rugby.

Falls are the most common injuries caused by the sport. Horses are flight animals and run from anything they perceive as dangerous. Being thrown or falling in such a way can result in injuries to the head and broken bones to more minor cuts and scrapes.

Some of the most devastating injuries can be caused by rotational falls and crush injuries. These falls can cause damage to the spinal cord as well as brain injuries and internal bleeding.  Riding helmets and body protectors help to minimise the amount of damages caused by such falls.

Damage to cars

The average horse weighs around 0.5 – 1 tonne, so it is understandable that an accident involving a vehicle and a horse can cause considerable damage to everyone involved.

A spooked horse or car passing too closely could cause minor damage to a vehicle such as a wing mirror being knocked off or bent out of place.  Passing too closely could also trigger the horse’s instincts to kick out behind to protect itself which may cause damage to headlights as well as denting doors and side panels of a vehicle.

More substantial damage can be caused in higher speed accidents, where drivers are unaware of how to pass horses safely. A frightened horse may react to this by rearing, spinning or running away. Reactions like this could result in horses landing on the bonnet or windscreen of the vehicle, which could result in serious injuries or death to the horse and rider as well as the risk to the drivers and passengers to the vehicle involved.

Horse & Rider Insurance

Horse and rider insurance can and should be purchased for any horses being ridden on the roads and can be purchased for as little as £3.99 per month. This insurance can cover things such as damage to public and private property caused by the horse in an accident to vet fees and loss of earnings from not being able to work due to injuries.

Top tips for riders to stay safe on the roads

1.Be seen, be safe

Light coloured or fluorescent clothing should be worn in day light or reflective clothing if you have to ride at night or in poor visibility. It really makes all the difference!


Always ensure your horse is ridden with correctly fitted saddle and bridle. Riders should ride with a fitted hat and a body protector.

3.Safety in numbers

Where possible, ride with others. Always let someone know where you are riding and give an estimated time you will be.  If necessary, ride 2 abreast along busier roads and always carry a mobile phone in case of emergency

Top tips for drivers when around horses on the road

1. Pass wide and slow

Slow down to a maximum of 15mph and give the horse and rider as much space as possible. A horse can spook and shy into the path of a moving vehicle as quickly as 45mph

2.Be patient

Don’t rev your engine or honk your horn.  Riders tend to try and find somewhere safe to get out of your way such as a layby or gateway

3.Pay attention

Pay attention to the riders’ hand signals, such as to slow down or come past. There will usually be a good reason for this.

Top tips for cyclists when around horses on the road

1. Communicate

Shout out “hello” to make the rider aware you are approaching; bikes make very little noise and can suddenly appear in the horses’ vision, especially if you are approaching from behind.

2.Slow down

Slow down when approaching a horse and rider. Bikes make very little noise to alert of your presence and can easily startle or spook the horse. If you are asked to stop then stop; this will be for your safety as well as the horse and riders’.

We have head and spinal injury specialists who deal solely with head, brain and spinal injury claims on behalf of the injured party.  Please contact Laura Merry on 0117 904 5718 or [email protected] to find out more information.