It’s another day on the road.
You’re jamming out to your favorite song with a coffee clutched in one hand and your steering wheel in the other. There isn’t a vehicle in sight, which is good. You’re driving fast and in a hurry, because you’re late to yet another meeting that should have been an e-mail.
As you’re flying down the road you spot a large figure in the distance. When you approach you realize it’s a horse with a rider atop its back. There isn’t time to slow down. You’re already late. You fly past the horse and rider at a high rate of speed.
You don’t look back and keep cruising, but, unbeknownst to you, that horse and rider back there are in big trouble. Being a flight animal, horses instinctively flee from unexpected danger, and your vehicle that came barreling out of no-where looks like a fire breathing dragon. The horse spooks and falls into the ditch, and the rider flies off.
Both are seriously injured and are stranded on the road.
What would have happened if you would have taken 30 extra seconds to slow down and give the horse and rider a large berth?
The horse could have seen you coming, and the rider would have had time to prepare the horse for the vehicle that was about to pass. Would it have been different if it were a bicyclist or jogger – would you have slowed down then?
Unfortunately, these traffic incidents occur more often than they should. We experience this situation a lot at Redwood Stables – located one mile south of Jackpot Junction. Being a full service horse boarding and training facility we strive to acclimate horses to all walks of life, including becoming accustomed to traffic.
We ride frequently down the gravel roads and sometimes the shoulder of the highway. It will usually be a toss-up as to whether or not a vehicle will slow down.
Sometimes people may slow down on their own, but they won’t slow down enough, or it requires signaling from us to wave a person down. Unfortunately, people will oftentimes ignore us and keep on driving in a pell mell manner.
Spooking a horse on the road is just one variable to think about. Another factor to consider is the hazard of kicking up rocks as you drive by.
If you have ever had a rock hit your windshield you understand how much damage it can cause when kicked up by another vehicle. When passing a horse and rider at a high rate of speed you risk inflicting this sort of damage to them, whether it be their body, face or eyes.
As horseback riders we want to share the road as much as possible with oncoming vehicles. We ride on the shoulder of the road, so we do not disturb the flow of traffic. Due to various hazards in the ditch, such as holes or broken glass bottles, it is not always safe to ride there to get off the road.
That is why it is critical to share the road – whether it be for a horse, a jogger, a bicyclist or any other pedestrian. We live in a crazy, non-stop world, and we’re trying to keep up with it.
As a result traffic accidents happen most often when we’re in a hurry. We become impulsive and a little reckless. Simply taking a few extra seconds to slow down and drive around horses while encountering them on the road can save lives.
So please, the next time you see a horse and rider on the road – just say whoa.