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How to Pass Horses on a Bicycle

By Monica Buck

Cyclists are definitely amongst the vulnerable road users. However, the general public knows how to share the road with cyclists safely. When in a motorised vehicle, we simply shouldn’t  overtake too rashly and should give at least 1.5 metres of space when passing. When it comes to horse riders, however, one often doesn’t know how to approach them. Luckily, the British Horse Society put out a set of recommendations specifically for cyclists.

Communication is key when overtaking horses

The animal is unlikely to see or hear you, especially when you’re quietly approaching from behind. A simple greeting goes a long way and is appreciated by the rider as well as the horse. Do so before you get too close or you could startle both. If you decide to wait until the equestrian passes you, make sure the animal can see you as it approaches. If the horse has indeed been frightened by you, give the rider a chance to calm the animal down and move out of your way before you move off again. The rider will appreciate your kindness, even if he/she might not show it because of concentrating on the animal.

Passing horses on a bike
That’s how they do it in Paris… © Profimedia

Slow down

A speeding cyclist may startle a horse and a group of speeding cyclists even more so. Please heed a rider’s or carriage driver’s request to slow down or stop for the safety of everyone involved.

Pass wide

We know the 1.5-metre rule and the fact that avid cyclists go out of their way to give space to other cyclists when driving a car. Think the same way of horses.

Passing a horse in Cuba
… and that’s how they do it in Cuba. © Profimedia

Small groups

Large groups of cyclists are very scary for horses. Passing in small groups of no more than four or five will really help the animal to adjust. When riding with a club, make your presence known. The rider will most likely stop and let you all pass at the same time.

Stay visible

Wearing fluorescent and reflective clothing helps all road users to see you better, horse riders included.

Keep your eyes and ears open

Hoof marks or fresh dung are good signs that there could be horses about. Stay alert and stay safe.

If you are a horse rider looking for tips on how to share the road with cyclists, you’ll find useful information in the BHS leaflet.