Drivers urged to beware horses

Fiona Evans

The safety of horse riders and their animals in the Bradford district has been put at risk by inconsiderate drivers.

South Bradford’s Horse Watch scheme has recently received numerous complaints from riders who have experienced near misses, say police.

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In some cases riders’ stirrups have been hit when motorists have driven too closely or at excessive speeds.

Now police in the division are calling on drivers to reduce their speed and consider the needs of horse riders on the road.

Police Community Support Officer Julie Hansord, who is the Horse Watch liaison officer for the Bradford South police division, warned that drivers breaking the law would be prosecuted.

She said: “One of the worst problems is hearing a car speeding towards you or behind you. Horse riders have given the motorist a clear signal to slow down and they are just ignored.

“There is no excuse for bad or careless driving on West Yorkshire’s roads.

“All drivers, whether they live in the district or are simply visiting, must understand that if they break the law they are likely to be caught and prosecuted.

“Things that affect horse riders on the roads are motorists who drive at inappropriate speeds, those who drink or drug drive and those who use a mobile phone behind the wheel.”

She added: “I think it is really a matter of making drivers aware of their responsibilities around horse riders and my advice is simple. Look out for horses being led or ridden on the road.

“At left hand bends or on narrow country roads take extra care and keep your speed down.

“When behind a horse rider give them plenty of room and be ready to stop.

“Do not sound your horn or rev your engine. Horses are powerful but vulnerable animals can be easily scared by noise and may panic around fast moving vehicles.”

PSCO Hansord also said: “Riders and motorists have a right to use Britain’s roads, a right to stay safe and have an enjoyable travel experience.

“It is therefore important that drivers and horse riders alike understand each others’ needs.

“Already, many local companies display the Horse Watch sticker in their company vehicles, in order to educate their employees and we hope others will follow suit.

“It is not just penalty points that you may get if you are charged with dangerous driving. It can often impact on your life, especially if you lose your job. Please think about horse riders on the road and give them the consideration they deserve.”

Horse Watch aims to prevent equine-related crime.

The scheme aims to provide advice and information to horse owners to help them avoid becoming victims of crime.

It also helps owners create a secure environment for their horses, equipment and vehicles.

Police say that equine-related crime is relatively low in West Yorkshire but Horse Watch has been reintroduced to provide advice and information to assist in the prevention of crime.

To support the development of Horse Watch, West Yorkshire Police operates a communications system that provides details of related incidents.

It allows information, warnings and details of crimes to be sent by phone or email to Horse Watch members across West Yorkshire.

Working along the same lines as Neighbourhood Watch, Horse Watch members can keep an eye out for their own horses, neighbours’ horses, equipment, vehicles and any breaches of security on their land.