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Cyclists and Horse Riding How to Pass a Pony Safely

You have to worry about other users when you are on a road bike, usually those who are rushing past you in their Beamers or cut up by Audis (you know who you are…and no, it’s not all of you!).  There are other dangers though, pedestrians with dogs, and in the countryside you often have to  tackle horse riders.

It seems an easy thing to just go round a horse.  After all, you aren’t making any startling noises.  You haven’t got a loud engine.  You can just slip by, surely?


I first wondered about this a few days ago when I suddenly realised how deathly silent my road bike is compared to my mountain bike.  It seemed with a mountain bike that people generally knew you were near them because of the road noise from the tyres.  And besides which, you never went particularly quickly.  Road bikes are different.

Little road noise, and then there is the whole speed issue, particularly on anything from flat ground to down hill, where you are covering the ground at between 30-40 miles per hour.  It was on such a trip that I passed a horse, so I deliberately slowed down, and passed really wide.  But I still wasn’t convinced.  Sure enough, it wasn’t until I was upon them that the rider knew I was there, though I got the sense that they were grateful that I had left a good gap.

But could it be worse than that?

Kristin and Lanka
Speaking to a good friend of mine on facebook, who is as passionate about ponies as I am celebrating cycling, she had posted that her pony didn’t like bicycles.  And the usual thing came up: silent and deadly.  The beast was fine with big tractors, lorries, hedge cutters, all of which are big and make stupid noises, but not with the sudden startling that comes with a mamil who appears on it’s peripheral vision and races off into the distance.  Such a scare could have a cyclist reaching for their bicycle insurance quicker than you could blink, and perhaps off road for a very long time. Not to mention the injury to horse and rider.

My friend said that she wished more people could be like the rider who had passed her a few days before who was good enough to call out as they approached.  So I asked for her advice, and she said any sound really to let them know you were approaching: a loud ahem, or a bell ring.  Anything.

So that’s what I intend to do in future.

Do you have any experience with horses?  If you ride ponies, then please leave a comment of your experience and how you would like to be treated by cyclists and other road users.

Creative Commons License photo credit: spakattacks