A council in Berkshire has committed to helping prepare horses for encountering new colourful road markings ahead of its road improvements that are planned for next year. The plans for Wokingham Borough Council in 2023 include painting multi-coloured leaf designs on the tarmac around two mini roundabouts.

The road designs also include more accessible crossings between roundabouts with a refuge island which will make it safer for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders; these will also be decorated with white leaves (pictured above) and other patterns.

When consulted, horse riders shared that they would appreciate the opportunity to desensitise their horses to the new markings in advance. The council worked with highways consultant WSP to lay a panel of surfacing marked with the leaf designs at Wheatlands Farm equestrian centre.

“We want to make our highways network safer and more friendly for all forms of alternative travel,” said Cllr Paul Fishwick, executive member for active travel, transport and highways. “While walking and cycling might spring first to many people’s minds, horse riding is another popular option — especially in the rural areas that make up much of our green and beautiful borough.

“We take residents’ feedback very seriously, so we were delighted to work with the local riding community to find a way of making the upcoming crossing improvements more accessible to them.”

‘Invaluable to local horse riders’

The panel, which opened in June, has already been utilised by many riders. It is expected that the work will be carried out in 2023, giving riders plenty of time to prepare.

“The trial panel is proving invaluable to local horse riders, allowing them to introduce their horses to the colourful design in a safe, controlled environment,” said Nicola Greenwood, who runs Wheatlands Farm and also operates as the BHS Access and Bridleways Officer for Wokingham.

“It allows riders to take as much time as they need for their horses to become confident with the design and we’re very grateful to the council and WSP for their help in providing this training aid.”

There is no charge for using the training aid, but riders must book in advance.

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