Shocking new statistics from the British Horse Society (BHS) have revealed 36 riders were killed in road accidents during the past five years, while 181 horses have died.
More than 2,000 reports of road incidents involving horses have been reported to the BHS since it set up its horse accidents website in 2010.
The charity has released these numbers as part of a new road safety campaign, which follows a recent, tragic accident where a horse was hit and killed by a car as he pulled a funeral cortege.
The death of carriage horse Will prompted a number of petitions demanding greater protection for horses and riders. In response, the BHS has launched Dead Slow, calling for drivers to slow down to 15mph when they meet a horse on the road.
“A lot of people aren’t sure how to safely pass a horse when driving, and so we have produced a video showing exactly how it should be done,” said Lee Hackett, BHS director of policy.
“We are campaigning for legislative change, but that can take a long time. That is why we are asking for this instant change in behaviour from drivers.”
Out of the 2,070 accidents reported to the BHS, 75% were caused by the vehicle not leaving enough room while passing the horse. Over 25% of respondents said that they also had to deal with driver road rage.
The majority of incidents happen on minor roads and in rural areas, with 1,799 occurring in England, 146 in Wales, 115 in Scotland and 10 in Northern Ireland.
“It’s worth remembering that these statistics are just the accidents reported to us, there will be countless others,” said Lee. “Almost everyone who rides horses can recount a story about a time they had a near miss on the roads.
As part of the Dead Slow campaign the BHS has produced a video demonstrating how to safely pass a horse on the road and it is asking for equestrians to thank any drivers who pass them responsibly.