In April this year the BBC highlighted some shocking facts about horse riders on the roads. At the time it was reported that since 2010, 38 riders and 222 horses had been killed whilst out on the roads. It also stated that 80% of these accidents were avoidable because drivers were travelling too fast and too close to horses, or both (for the full report click HERE).
We've all seen the footage on Facebook of several scenarios resulting in very near misses. We've also seen the abuse hurled at one another. The question we have to ask, are we doing everything we can to be safe and be seen?
I quite often hack out during the day, when it's light. One particular day I was hacking out our mare Mea, she is always a pleasure to hack, not spooky, good in traffic etc. We were actually riding out down a very straight country lane, no bends or blind turns. It was a sunny morning, I never even thought I should be wearing Hi-Viz, it was so bright.
How wrong I was.
It was around 8.30am in the morning, so usually a time most might venture out to work. As I was pottering down the lane the sun came out and shone through the trees, whilst thinking 'Oooo... that would make a lovely photo'... I heard a car fast approaching. It's funny how all of a sudden, when you're hacking out, you can hear things 10 miles in the distance. I spotted the car at the top of the lane, it was evident they had not seen me. Mea being very light grey in colour, teamed with the sun shining through the trees at that moment rendered me invisible. Thankfully, there was a turning point not too far away so I quickly trotted on and ducked in. The car only saw me when it was approximately 4 metres away. Had I been in the road, I wouldn't be here to tell the story.
How do I feel? Foolish, ashamed and guilty. I'm still not really sure if the car would've seen me in the Hi-Viz at the time. The Sun was so bright. Either way, without anything on it made it even less likely and so much more dangerous. I learnt a very valuable lesson that day. No matter what time of day, Hi-Viz should be worn.
Since that day, I have worn my Hi-Viz in all its glory. I dug it out of my cabinet and it now takes pride of place next to my hat. Yes, some drivers are not helpful, but we must always make sure we make every effort to be seen, to be safe. Those drivers that do take the time to take care of us out on the roads should be thanked. We have to work together to make the roads safer for us all.
HKM Sports Fluorescent Horse Leg Bands - £6.00