Guidelines published for handling horses on roads

Booklet details proper approach to horses for riders and motorists who encounter them


New guidelines for horse riders using public roads in Ireland were launched on Wednesday at the RDS on the first day of the Dublin Horse Show.

The guidelines, published in a booklet called Horse Road Safety on Public Roads, was launched by the Road Safety Authority (RSA), Horse Sport Ireland and the Garda.

These are the first official guidelines available. Liz O’Donnell, chairperson of the RSA, said: “We frequently get inquiries to the RSA that people don’t how to behave around horses when they meet them on the road.”

The guidelines includes guidance on riding or leading horses on public roads, appropriate safety equipment, road signs and signalling for riders.

Speaking at the launch, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Paschal Donohue said: “Thousands of people across Ireland enjoy horse-riding both professionally and as a hobby, and so it is important that guidelines are in place for how to share the roads safely with other road-users.”

Sharing roads

Guidance for motorists sharing roads with horseriders is also included in the booklet.

There are an estimated 200,000 riding horses in Ireland, many of which will be taken on public roads.

Chief Supt Mark Curran said motorists needed to be mindful of horses on the roads.

“It’s important for motorists to see them as vulnerable road-users and give them a wide berth and be conscious of their driving,” he said.

Caution is recommended when overtaking horses or horse-drawn vehicles, and drivers are discouraged from using a car’s horns or lights in a way that might startle a horse.

Since 2010 there have been five fatalities and 93 minor injuries in road incidents involving horses.