How should I overtake a horse when riding my motorcycle?

With horse riding and motorcycling both popular summer activities, the chance of meeting one on a ride is high. Here’s how to pass a horse safely when riding a motorcycle

How to pass a horse safely when riding a motorcycle

HORSE riders and motorcycle riders, we probably have more in common than you’d first think! Horses are powerful, fast-moving and sometimes unpredictable – and the similarities to bikes don’t end there!

We also like to enjoy our chosen steeds more often in the finer weather, travelling along picturesque country roads and sometimes in groups. The problem begins when people forget that equestrian types and rest of us actually have to share the road, not scare the other one off it.

The British Horse Society has reported that nearly two horses are killed each week on UK roads. In last year alone, 87 horses and four people have been tragically killed.

Here’s some advice on how to pass a horse safely when riding a motorcycle.

What to do if you're approaching a horse from behind?

Slow down and hold back. The rider will indicate whether it’s safe to approach and overtake. If they don’t, make sure you stay at least three car lengths behind and be careful to not move into this space. Be prepared to slow down further or even stop to protect yourself and the horse and rider. Avoid any sudden movements and loud noises such as revving the engine.

Most riders, and occasionally their horses will be in hi-vis, so you should see them and able to slow down in good time. Remember in the countryside they could be around any corner, a tell tail horse-shit could be your clue!

When passing the horse and rider make sure you give plenty of space, at least a car’s width and ensure it’s done slowly. Remember to always pass “slow and wide” stick to 15mph or under. Take a look at this video explaining it from the British Horse Society.

If you’re on a country road and there’s not much room to manoeuvre around the horse, the rider may decide to trot towards the nearest lay by or grass verge. Do not speed up to match their trot, stay back and allow the rider to get to safety before overtaking

Often when you see two riders it is for safety reasons. This could be an inexperienced rider or nervous animal being coached along by a more experienced companion. Give them some consideration

Keep an eye out for the rider. They will often give you signals asking to slow down, stop or to overtake. They will acknowledge you and assist you to pass, but their main priority is keeping themselves and the horse safe, so they’ll be trying to keep their hands on the reins at all times

Always accelerate gently to pass the horse and when moving away. Both rider and horse may both be inexperienced and nervous in traffic; do your bit to keep them safe

If there are grass verges, many riders will take the option to move themselves up onto them and allow you to pass. Please continue to pass slowly as the noise of your engine can still spook the horse

What to do if a horse is approaching me from in front?

Slow down completely and consider putting on your hazard warning lights for anyone that may be behind you. You may need to stop to allow the horse to pass you safely if it is safe to do so

Horse rider and IAM RoadSmart’s digital content executive Jaimi McIlravey said: “Please continue to be careful when driving close to horses. From personal experience, it’s not always a car that will spook a horse. You may be driving safely with enough gap between yourself and a horse and rider, however, something else may scare them, so be sure to stay alert.”

If you see any incidents involving a horse and rider please contact the police with any information you have. You’re also able to report an incident through this website.