Standing Together for Safer Roads

September 02, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

Standing Together for Safer Roads

By Annabel Burn 

  ​​​​

In a recent heartfelt post by dedicated racehorse rider and head groom Louisa Allen, we were given a sobering reminder of the challenges faced by horses and their riders on the road every day. This is a greater risk for flighty racehorses but the plea for drivers to respect horses on the roads is a call that should resonate with all of us, whether we're horse enthusiasts, racing enthusiasts or not. It's a plea for understanding, empathy, and above all, safety.

Allen's experiences of regularly encountering red light jumpers on Epsom Downs Racecourse, and even recently having a close call with a car, is undoubtedly harrowing and becoming far too common.  Epsom Downs Racecourse is criss crossed with general traffic. To imagine being in a situation where the simple act of respecting traffic signals could mean the difference between life and death for both the rider and the horse is sobering, to say the least. It's a testament to the shared vulnerability that both riders and horses face on the roads.  

Allen makes clear, it's not just a job; it's a way of life, a deep connection that goes beyond the mere act of riding; these horses are more than just animals they look after and sit upon; they are integral parts of their hearts. These animals provide companionship, solace, and a sense of purpose that cannot be easily replicated.  It's a reminder that the relationships we build with animals are significant and meaningful in their own right.  The pain of losing a horse, even when they transition to a new yard or face unforeseen incidents, is palpable, but to lose a horse in an easily avoidable accident, is becoming a frighteningly regular occurence on our roads. 

If only these thoughtless or hurried drivers could realise that each horse carries a piece of the hearts of those who devote their lives to caring for them despite the dreadful pay, 4am starts, minimal days off and long, long hours... these things are secondary when you have an all consuming love. That's what you risk destroying in your rush to get a few seconds ahead of the other traffic.

The call for drivers to slow down and respect red lights goes beyond just being considerate; it's a plea for a safer environment for everyone involved. Epsom racecouse is not just a place of work; Since 1640 it's been a place of magic -  passion, dedication, and dreams.  It's where riders and horses forge their partnership, where aspirations take shape, where history has been made and where the long days have for hundreds of years been spent providing care, exercise, love and a comforting routine for these incredible animals.

As Allen says in her post, let's take a moment to think about the personalities that these horses possess. Just as we care for our pets in our home, these horses have quirks, feelings, and individualities that deserve the consideration of every road user, the vast majority of whom must surely be pet owners going on National statistics.  As animal lovers we must stand together and spread the word to make the roads safer for both humans and animals alike. Epsom Downs Racecourse is first and foremost a place for horses and riders.  At the very least they should feel safe and happy there.

So, to the brave rider who penned this plea, know that your words have reached hearts and minds. Your courage in speaking out and sharing your experiences shines a light on the importance of responsible driving and empathy for one another. Let's heed your call and spread the word to slow down, respect these wonderful creatures, those who care for them and respect those red lights. After all, each time we do, we're not just slowing down we're safeguarding lives and preserving the unique bonds that make our world richer.

Editors Note: Written by one equestrian, for another.  Thank You Annabel Burn.  Please take a moment to download the British Horse Society app, 'Horse I' from the Google Play Store.  You can easily report incidents or near misses on this app and the stats help the BHS to see hotspots and carry out work in those areas.

Photo: Louisa Allen on Epsom Downs - Photo by Steven McCormick Photography  


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