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Road Race Vs Horses

LuntyLunty Posts: 20
edited October 2009 in Amateur race
Hi Guys,

I (or rather my mum) came across the following quote on the Horse & Hound forum and was wondering if it's true that races have to stop for horses.
Some years ago there was a case where some road racing cyclists where signalled to stop by some horse riders and they failed to do so. One of the riders was seriously injured and the matter was taken to court. Any official cyclist road race must now be accompanied by escort vehicles at the front which if they see horseriders they are obliged to stop the cyclists (otherwise the organisers insurance policy is invalidated and all the cyclists become personally liable for any accident or damage that is caused by them).

Thanks!

Posts

  • Dess1eDess1e Posts: 239
    News to me.
  • JC.152JC.152 Posts: 645
    earlier in the year at south staffs league the first 2 groups on the road had to stop for some horses at the side of the road and that was the day Roger hammond was in the scratch group so we could have done with all the extra time :(
  • knedlickyknedlicky Posts: 3,097
    As far as I understand, horse riders have to follow the highway code in much the same way cyclists do – single file normally, keep to side of road, not endanger others, carry lights if it’s dark, etc. Also the rider of a horse on the highway has to be competent at handling the horse, so no novice. Horses don’t have any extra rights, so I don’t see why they would therefore be allowed to interfere with cyclists.

    But perhaps the police require extra precautions for a race? I can imagine a peloton racing by could disturb horses. There was an incident in the Tour of France a few years ago where a horse from a nearby field got out on to the road and enthusiastically joined in, running alongside the peloton, and banging into sprinter Eric Zabel.

    I think in an accident involving horses on a public highway, even if the horse/horserider isn’t primarily responsible, any damage caused by the horse has to be paid for by the horse owner, and thus he should have insurance to cover this possibility. It’s therefore in the horse owners’ interests to avoid any incident which might cost them. But that’s not a right to have priority over cyclists.
  • John.TJohn.T Posts: 3,698
    With the damage a frightened horse could do common sense says that you should at the very least slow down and pass with care. Frightening a horse could be construed as furious riding which is still an offence. Better safe than sorry. Also better for the sports image.
  • ProssPross Posts: 29,596
    With a foot in both camps I don't know if stopping is a rule but as John says it is common sense to at least slow right down when passing whether racing or riding at any other time. Remember that horses aren't vehicles they are half a ton of animal with a mind of its own and even the best behaved horses are likely to spook at the sight of 60 people in bright lycra flying past them. I would assume that if a race does have to stop then the same rules would apply as, say, for a level crossing i.e. any breaks get to resume with their original time gap?
    As far as I understand, horse riders have to follow the highway code in much the same way cyclists do

    No one has to follow the Highway Code, it isn't a form of legislation and you are therefore not breaking any laws in not following it. However, it is a Code of Practice and can be used by a Court to determine if your driving / riding falls below the expected standards e.g. in careless / dangerous driving charges and could also be used for a claim in the Civil Courts. I'm not suggesting anyone should ignore it as doing so can be dangerous and as stated above could lead to your successful prosecution but so many road users think it is the Law in its own right!
  • knedlickyknedlicky Posts: 3,097
    Pross wrote:
    As far as I understand, horse riders have to follow the highway code in much the same way cyclists do
    No one has to follow the Highway Code, it isn't a form of legislation and you are therefore not breaking any laws in not following it. ...so many road users think it is the Law in its own right!
    I’m glad to read someone write that one doesn’t break a law when not following a code of practice, because there are many people who don’t understand this about all sorts of codes.
    However, in the case of the Highway Code this is only partially true - it is obligatory to follow some of the rules (those with the wording ‘must’) and a crime if you don’t.
    (That doesn’t mean I agree with all the ‘musts/must nots’!)
  • ProssPross Posts: 29,596
    Yes, but the must is merely pointing out (simplyfying) a law set in primary legislation. Most people would think of the highway code as the place to tell them all the road signs on the road but there are actually hundreds that don't appear in it!

    Unfortunately many motorists seem to think cyclists are breaking the law when riding two abreast - they aren't (although in some circumstances they could be deemed to be causing an obstruction).
  • I don't think I have the very latest edition :oops: However the one I have has the 'musts' referenced to the relevant legislation at the end of each paragraph (Road Traffic Act, Road Vehicle Lighting Regulations etc). Can't find any reference to stopping for Horses so it may be just a racing rule. It is however an offence to take a horse on a footpath or cycle track (Highways Act 1835). Know Your Traffic Signs has (I think) a complete list of all the signs and what the white lines mean. I bet you could'nt fill a football ground with the drivers who have read that (or the HC for that matter) :(
    "If nothing else works, a total pig-headed unwillingness to look facts in the face will see us through." General Melchett - Blackadder Goes Forth
    GT Arrowhead
  • kieranbkieranb Posts: 1,674
    edited September 2009
    I went for a cycle yesterday in North Downs area with 3 clubmates. We ended up riding part of the route that a triathlon was taking palce on. There were 2 horses on the road, ridden by a man and his son, the son's horse got a little skittish as the triathletes were not slowing down and passing a bit too close for my comfort (some of them seemed inexperienced on bikes). I pulled right over to the far side and slowed down to pass safely, also slowing down others behind me. I got thanked by the father!

    Simple, just show consideration for the horses, riders and yourself (I would guess a horse's kick would be a little sore).
  • Dess1eDess1e Posts: 239
    As I said above that piece of case law is a new one on me. But any race I have taken part in upon seeing a horse(s) normally the riders noramally take it upon themselves to neutralise the race and slow down until the hazzard has been passed safely. Occasionally one or two riders try to use this as a springboard to attack, but normally are caught and receive a flea in their ears.
  • ProssPross Posts: 29,596
    Most horse riders are grateful to be shown courtesy. Remember that they are as vulnerable or even more so than cyclists (think of them as fellow cyclists on half ton bikes which have a mind of their own lol).

    Yes, I can vouch that the kick from one does hurt - a lot!!!
  • I once came across a horse in a time trial on small roads, on just about the fastest part of the course. I weighed up the situation (while pondering wasted training for the race vs. the power of beast's hooves) and decided on a compromise, slowing down a bit & shouting 'bike' to the horserider to warn him - he did thank me to be fair. I would never distress an animal if I could avoid it.
  • As an avid road cyclist and part time racer and horse rider I would like to thank all those cyclists who slow down and pass nice and wide. The problem with bikes coming up from behind is that neither the horse nor the rider know the bike is there and both, however normally the horse first, can be startled. Remember the horse has a flight response. I for one would appreciate all cyclist coming up behind me to call out "BIKE" so I can ensure that I have am able to try and make my horse aware and better prepared for any reaction.
  • giner1961giner1961 Posts: 135
    Yes, my wife rides a horse and me a bike, i always slow on meeting horses be it from the front or back, if i come from the back of the horse i position myself as far right as possible and call to the rider this enables them to be aware i'm there and gives the horse a chance to see me and be less startled.
    i have an old hairnet style race helmet which has a mark on from when a road race i was in came across some horse riders, the horses spooked one kicked out/bucked and i just saw its hoof coming my way dipped my head an heard it's hoof clip my helmet, close. :oops:
  • jibberjimjibberjim Posts: 2,810
    gelbvieh wrote:
    As an avid road cyclist and part time racer and horse rider I would like to thank all those cyclists who slow down and pass nice and wide. The problem with bikes coming up from behind is that neither the horse nor the rider know the bike is there and both, however normally the horse first, can be startled.

    Have you considered a mirror? Then you can indicate to the horse the rider is approaching?

    Whilst I do inform horses, give them a wide berth etc. etc. I'm still pretty surprised about the number of riders who choose to needlessly ride on the road an animal that isn't comfortable there, if your horse is that skittish have it on the road as little as possible - or start training it to get better.
    Jibbering Sports Stuff: http://jibbering.com/sports/
  • Get a life. The road is there for all users.

    My horse is excellant in traffic but even I get a fright when out biking if a couple of cyclist or more come past me suddenly and unexpectedly. Cars, trucks can all be heard. The modern racing bike is a fairly silent beast. I don't expect any special treatment just pass with some width and care, you'd expect at least that if you where cycling and being passed by a car, and a call of 'bike' or 'bike behind' would be gratefully received.

    Here in NZ we have some great mountain biking but share a lot of the tracks with walkers. One of the biggest complaints here is that mountain bikers don't warn people when coming from behind so the walkers get a fright from the sudden movement behind them.

    All I'm saying is show some curtesy. That's the least we all expect when on our bikes from motor vehicle drivers.
  • John.TJohn.T Posts: 3,698
    gelbvieh wrote:
    Get a life. The road is there for all users.

    My horse is excellant in traffic but even I get a fright when out biking if a couple of cyclist or more come past me suddenly and unexpectedly. Cars, trucks can all be heard. The modern racing bike is a fairly silent beast. I don't expect any special treatment just pass with some width and care, you'd expect at least that if you where cycling and being passed by a car, and a call of 'bike' or 'bike behind' would be gratefully received.

    Here in NZ we have some great mountain biking but share a lot of the tracks with walkers. One of the biggest complaints here is that mountain bikers don't warn people when coming from behind so the walkers get a fright from the sudden movement behind them.

    All I'm saying is show some curtesy. That's the least we all expect when on our bikes from motor vehicle drivers.
    Quite right. It scares the hell out of me when a car belts past a foot or so away without warning so I can see how I can affect others. A bit of consideration all round will keep us all safer.
  • ProssPross Posts: 29,596
    Have you considered a mirror? Then you can indicate to the horse the rider is approaching?

    Whilst I do inform horses, give them a wide berth etc. etc. I'm still pretty surprised about the number of riders who choose to needlessly ride on the road an animal that isn't comfortable there, if your horse is that skittish have it on the road as little as possible - or start training it to get better

    How do you expect horses to get exercised? That's like saying cyclists should stay off the road to avoid collisions with cars. Horse riders don't opt for the road out of choice, it is usually used either to get to open countryside / bridleways or because there are no better facilities nearby. My daughter has to ride about two miles on quiet country lanes before she can access any off road riding and we live in a fairly rural area.
  • It’s just as important to calmly get the horses attention, as it is to slow down. Difficult in a race situation I know, but then there could be all sorts of things just around the next bend to watch out for.

    Having ridden both horses and bikes a fair amount one trick is to watch their ears. They are a giveaway as to where the horses’ concentration is directed, even if they are looking in another direction. And if the horse rider is at all experienced the ear movement acts as a warning to them.

    Of course that only helps if you see the horse in time to give a gentle warning and are watching for a response.

    Another tip, if you have a Hope hub then yes slow down, but don’t stop pedalling unless you have to as the noise from the freewheel scares the living daylights out of the beasts…
  • jibberjimjibberjim Posts: 2,810
    Pross wrote:
    Have you considered a mirror? Then you can indicate to the horse the rider is approaching?

    How do you expect horses to get exercised?

    Bridleways, fields etc. Roads once they're comfortable enough to not be a danger to themselves or others - Just like no-one should ride a bike on the road if it's unsafe to themselves or others, they should learn in a safer environment. There's a great many horses who are perfectly comfortable on roads, but apparently there are others who get uncomfortable around cars or bikes apparently there are ones which the "click of a freewheel scares the living daylights out of them".

    It's the same with other animals, children whatever, if they are a danger to themselves or other road users, then it's the responsibility of the owner of the animal who is choosing to use the road to control them so it's safe.

    Of course everyone else should show some courtesy, but that doesn't mean taking exaggerated steps to make it safe for the animals themselves. Some cyclists are a reckless danger to themselves too, that doesn't mean anyone passing another cyclist should slow down to pass them very slowly with massive gaps.
    Jibbering Sports Stuff: http://jibbering.com/sports/
  • ProssPross Posts: 29,596
    Bridleways, fields etc. Roads once they're comfortable enough to not be a danger to themselves or others - Just like no-one should ride a bike on the road if it's unsafe to themselves or others, they should learn in a safer environment. There's a great many horses who are perfectly comfortable on roads, but apparently there are others who get uncomfortable around cars or bikes apparently there are ones which the "click of a freewheel scares the living daylights out of them".

    As I said in my post, most people only use the roads to either get to bridleways or similar off road riding areas or because the quiet lanes are their only riding option. Not everyone who owns a horse has acres of private land to ride on, many are kept at livery yards. I know probably in excess of 50 horse riders and I don't think any of them would use the roads if they could ride off road. It's not just down to traffic either, the road surface is not very compatible with a half ton creature wearing metal shoes and the hard surface can put a strain on their legs.

    Yes, many horses are comfortable on the road 90% of the time even in heavy traffic but you can't compare horse riders with other road users as they are the only example of a 'vehicle' with a mind of its own. A person may well not be nervous of noise but will jump at a load, unexpected bang or we may not be frightened by a horror film but jump involuntarily at a particular scene and horses are the same with something they don't expect - even some litter flapping in the hedgerow can disturb an otherwise unflappable horse.

    I don't really see why you have a problem in slowing down and going wide if passing a horse (and perhaps given a shouted warning), is it really that troublesome for you? It is just a courtesy like a lorry passing you on your bike with a metre or two of space rather than just a foot :roll:
  • I'm also in both camps. I ride and take part in sportives/races and my girlfriend does Show Jumping, I also spend a lot of time with the horses.

    From working with horses over the past couple of years, i've found out just how spooky horses can be, a strange shape in the distance or a simple bang of a gate can make them jump.

    Horse owners will only use roads if last resort as roads aren't the best for the feet or limbs. I know it is really daft if you don't work with horses but seriously it is crazy how they can spook no matter how experienced they are. We have a 19 year old (getting on in horse terms) horse who still spooks at daft stuff.

    I really want to make something clear.

    I know from going to various horse shows across Cheshire that all horse owners want to be as pro-active as possible when it comes to working with cyclists. They all try their best to listen out for races coming up in the area, but even when the regular cyclist can sometimes not even know, especially the TLI races, then it can be difficult and they can be found caught up!

    All I'll say is that if you see a horse, slow right down and if possible give a shout "coming through" with about 5-10 metres to go. Go to the middle of the road when over taking.

    There has also been talk of getting something together around here (perhaps a database of riding clubs and riding magazines) so horses are notified of races coming up.
  • Dess1eDess1e Posts: 239
    andywood1986

    the database sounds like a great idea. I and most organisers I know try to notify riders and stable via the local BHA rep, who then I assume e-mail - phone to inform. A DB would be a simpler approach that may also reach independent riders etc. if publicised.
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