In partnership with Wintec Saddles
In an ideal world, horse riders would stick to bridleways and tracks, never needing to step foot – or hoof – on the roads. However, that’s not possible for the majority of riders, who must ride on roads to hack out. If you use the roads, it’s important that you know how to ride around roundabouts and navigate junctions from horseback, as the rules are different from when driving a car. These are detailed in the Highway Code, which outlines guidance and mandatory rules that all road users must follow, whether they are driving a vehicle, cycling, riding a horse or walking on foot.
The Highway Code features a number of rules that concern horse riders, including wearing safety equipment like high vis and advice for what to do if you must ride at night. It also details how riders should tackle different layouts and what signals to use to communicate with other road users. Knowing these rules will help to keep both yourself and your horse safe, particularly in high-traffic areas or if you are riding somewhere new or unfamiliar. In particular, it can be very stressful to ride around roundabouts or cross busy junctions – knowing what to do will help to put your mind at ease.
How to navigate turns and junctions
Before turning off a road, look ahead and behind you to make sure it is safe, then give a clear arm signal. You may need to stand and wait for traffic to pass before you can cross, so it’s important that your horse can stand still patiently and wait. It is legal to ride two abreast – but no more than that. On narrow or busy roads, or when riding around bends, you should be in single file.
The Highway Code dictates that when riding on the road, you should:
- Keep to the left.
- Keep both hands on the reins unless you are signalling.
- Keep both feet in the stirrups.
- Not carry another person.
- Not carry anything which might affect your balance or get tangled up with the reins.
- Keep a horse you are leading to your left.
- Move in the direction of the traffic flow in a one-way street.
It also states that you must not take a horse onto a footpath or pavement, and should not ride on a cycle track.
Some roads have equestrian crossings which should be used. These have:
- Pavement barriers
- Wider crossing spaces
- Horse and rider figures in the light panels
- Two sets of control panels (one at regular height and one higher) or just one set of high control panel – the higher ones are designed to be reached when in the saddle.
You should dismount at level crossings where a ‘horse rider dismount’ sign is displayed.
How to ride around roundabouts
The Highway Code advises that horse riders avoid roundabouts where possible, but if you have to use them, you should:
- Keep to the left and watch out for vehicles crossing your path to leave or join the roundabout.
- Signal right when riding across exits to show you are not leaving.
- Signal left just before you leave the roundabout.
This content is brought to you in partnership with Wintec Saddles, durable, comfortable, easy-care, weather-proof saddles for everyone.