There is a very disturbing video which is going viral on facebook today of some cyclists overtaking a horse at speed during a sportive. Most of them pass too fast and too close on the right, but rather shockingly, a couple of them undertake the horse at speed on its left and one bumps into the horse. The cyclist in question was incredibly lucky that although the horse was clearly upset, he remained calm and did not kick out and nor did he jump away to the right following the collision (into the path of more overtaking cyclists). We know that no one reading this is stupid enough to exhibit this sort of embarrassing and very dangerous behaviour, but in light of this it seems like a reminder on how to approach a horse is worth calling out, because sometimes it’s easy to assume a horse looks calm and that you don’t have to be quite so careful when you are over taking it, but the reality is, you should always treat a horse as though it is afraid of bikes, whether it is or not.

So, it doesn’t matter whether you are cycling alone, or out in a group, or on a club run, if you see a horse ahead, SLOW RIGHT DOWN. If safe to do so, move out to the right slightly where the horse has a better field of vision and is more likely to spot you. Horses have a blind spot immediately behind them and a quiet cyclist can unintentionally cause a flight reaction to even the most calm and confident of horses. 

If a horses attention is focused elsewhere, then even moving out to the right does not guarantee it may see you, so DO NOT PASS the horse until you have called out to the rider to LET THEM KNOW YOU ARE THERE.  If the horse shows any signs of panic or begins to act nervously (head shaking, shying/leaping to the side or forwards, trotting/cantering on the spot, rearing), then STOP and wait until the rider has calmed the horse and tells you that you can pass.  A truly considerate cyclists will always ask permission to overtake the horse before doing so, whether the horse is showing signs of distress or not.  When you pass, cross as far over to the other side of the road as you can and pass VERY SLOWLY. Do not pass 2 abreast, pass in SINGLE FILE to give the horse as much room as possible. Horses and riders are very vulnerable on the roads, and if a horse panics, bolts, kicks out etc.. then you are also vulnerable.   It’s for everyone’s safety that cyclists show horses as much respect and caution as possible. 

For anyone interested in seeing the video of the cyclists that didn’t know how to pass a horse, then we have shared it on our Nomads FB page (click here).  Social media is very powerful when it comes to undesirable behaviour, and the original video has been shared over 42,000 times in the last 24 hours alone. Sadly, the 31k comments (and rising) on the horse rider’s original post show the damage that these disrespectful cyclists have done to the reputation of cyclists.  Feel free to share this around to remind others how to stay safe around horses and to show everyone that the huge majority of cyclists would not behave this way.

One Comment

  • Exactly, Sally. A few further points to similar effect:
    – When calling ahead to let a rider know that you are there, don’t shout any louder than necessary, as the horse will react to the urgency in your voice;
    – While passing the horse, keep talking using a calm voice;
    – If you’re the first of a group to pass, let the rider know how many more bikes are behind you;
    – If passing a trotting rig or similar, remember that the horse will be blinkered and will not see you until you are alongside it, so be doubly careful to apply all the advice above; and
    – Don’t forget that the same principles apply if you meet a horse being ridden towards you.

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