To increase awareness of little-known motor vehicle laws, the Granby Horse Council is hosting a community event—Share the Road. On Saturday, June 19, (rain date June 20) join Horse Council members at Salmon Brook Park from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for the 3rd Annual Share the Road event. Come and meet horses, enjoy pony rides and learn about horse safety on the road.
Almost any driver will tell you that when you see a school bus, with lights flashing, you must stop and wait. But what is your responsibility as a driver when you see a horse and rider on the road? Most riders will actively avoid riding on the road when possible. However, it is often necessary to ride on or across main and side roads in order to reach many of the trail riding areas in our community.
Television and the movies present horses as calm, brave, and easy to control with every rider appearing experienced and able to manage every horse they mount. In reality, both rider and horse may be inexperienced and nervous, especially on the road and in traffic. Horses are “flight” animals, which means that when something startles or frightens them, they can be unpredictable. Their natural response is to move away from the fearful object as quickly as possible. A startled horse may jump, run, or rapidly move into or away from whatever surprised them, including into the path of a car. Even experienced riders on well-behaved horses may be challenged in this type of situation. This can be dangerous for the horse and rider, and others in the area.
Horses often react to things suddenly appearing in their line of vision and to loud sounds. If you are walking, jogging or riding a bike and moving toward a horse, calmly say something as you approach. This gives the horse the information it needs to know you are approaching.
So, when you meet a horse on the road, what should you do? The good news is that Connecticut motor vehicle laws give guidance about how to respond in this situation. Exercise due care by:
First, making certain that you attend to the rider who may signal for you to slow down or stop.
Pass wide and pass slowly.
Avoid any actions likely to spook a horse (e.g. don’t rev an engine or honk a horn).
Accelerate gently once you have passed the horse.
While most riders like to acknowledge considerate driving and a safe pass, remember their top priority is to keep their hands on the reins and maintain control of the horse. However, know that every rider truly appreciates the considerate driver who keeps everyone’s safety in mind.
If you are unfamiliar with horses, when approaching them, remember to ask permission of the handler and to get direction for the safest way to approach. Seeing a horse can be exciting, for both you and the horse. While horses are curious, many will startle easily. The person riding or leading the horse will tell you the best way to interact with the animal for your safety, and theirs.
Find out more about the Granby Horse Council at granbyhorsecouncilct.com and on the Facebook page, “Granby (CT) Horse Council.”