Horse riders

All horse riders should be encouraged to undertake road safety training available through various horse riding bodies.

Helmets for Horse Riders

It is mandatory, under The Horses (Protective Headgear for Young Riders) Regulations 1992, for children under 14 years of age to wear protective headgear when riding a horse on the road. The headgear must conform to one of the above standards or bear the EC mark of conformity.
Children of the Sikh religion are exempted while they are wearing a turban.

The British Horse Society recommends that young horse riders would be better protected by wearing a helmet that has been specifically designed for their particular activity and conforms to BS EN1384, PAS015 or ASTM F1163 and bearing the kite mark or SEI.

The Department for Transport has decided that it is more realistic to permit the use of both horse and cyclist helmets. The basis for this belief is that many children already own a cycling helmet and it is therefore more likely that compliance will be achieved by permitting the use of either type of helmet, than by insisting that each young person purchases and wears a helmet designed and sold specifically for horse riders.

In the absence of evidence that pedal cyclist helmets are unsuitable for horse riders using the road, RoSPA accepts that the use of pedal cyclist helmets conforming to BS 6863 is an acceptable alternative.


Any visibility aid (garment or accessory) is likely to be too far from the normal headlight strike-point to prove to be a major accident prevention aid. However, the use of fluorescent/reflective ankle bands and stirrup-borne visibility aids might prove beneficial.

Before riding

Before you take a horse on to a road, you should always ensure all tack fits well and is in good condition and that you are sure you can control the horse. Always ride with other, less nervous horses if you think that your horse will be nervous of traffic. Never ride a horse without a saddle or bridle.

At night

It is safer not to ride on the road at night or in poor visibility. But should you do so, make sure that your horse has reflective bands above the fetlock joints. Carry a light, which shows white to the front and red to the rear.

Riding on the road

Before riding off or turning, look behind you to make sure it is safe to do so, then give a clear arm signal. When riding on the road you should keep to the left

Control on young riders

Young riders, particularly under 10 years of age should always be accommpanied by an experienced adult rider when using the public highway.

It is a fact that many young and inexperienced riders have problems with the control of their animals. NEVER allow a young or inexperienced rider out on the public highway until you are completely satisfied that they have acquired the necessary road skills.

Motorists and horses

Always take care and drive slowly past horses when they are being led or ridden on the road, especially on narrow county roads and left-hand bends. Horses are powerful creatures, but scare easily and can panic. Even a piece of litter blowing across the road is enough to startle an animal.

Basic tips for motorists

  • Give horses plenty of room and be prepared to stop if necessary.
  • Never sound your horn or rev your engine.
  • Watch out for signals given by horse riders. When turning right, a horse rider will position the horse on the left.
  • If children are riding horses and ponies — take extra care.
  • Be prepared for unexpected behaviour.

The British Horse Society

To help riders improve their road safety skills, the British Horse Society runs national Riding and Road Safety training and testing, and a free leaflet – How to be a Safer Rider is available from their Safety Department at the following address:

The British Horse Society, Stoneleigh Deer Park, Kenilworth, Warwickshire. CV8 2XZ Tel. 08701 202244, Fax.01926 707800 or click the link below.

The Road Safety Centre has a number of horse riding resources, including videos, which are available on free loan. For further details please contact us.

Related links

  • Horse Ways
    Roadsense for horseriders
  • RoSPA
    Road safety resources for teachers and parents together with information for older children. Also a very useful download facility for drivers. Click Road Safety on their webpage to access information.
  • The Highway Code
    Use the A-Z Keyword index to search for your topic.