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Motorists please take the time to read this....    ()

 

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, I’d like to introduce you to my horses.

They are big and it's getting to that time of year where drivers seem to forget that.

These particular horses are also very strong.

One of them has kicked through a 100mm dense concrete block walk before for reasons best known to himself, and despite totalling the wall, let me tell you there wasn’t a mark on him after.

It may surprise people who don’t have horses to learn that my horse isn’t frightened of your car. He isn’t frightened by cars. Or lorries. Or motorbikes. Or tractors.

He isn’t frightened of much actually when you consider he is one of the most successful and intelligent flight animals in existence who’s full time job is to be frightened of everything.

Amazingly even though he has spent the last 55 Million years evolving to run from what scares him and I have spent only 3 years of my time teaching him to completely disobey every instinct he has. It’s worked! A testament to my horse training skills? No. Just an example of his amazing adaptive abilities really.

I’ve helped him overcome his fear of basically everything by taking him to all sorts of exciting nerve jangling places so he can learn to be a respectable member of society as you can see in the photos below. I have to teach him emotional control, much the same way you have to take your toddler to the supermarket a few times before the toddler learns that lay down tantrums in public don’t get them a sweetie at the checkout.

As a result of this he understands he can trust my judgement above his own instincts in situations he doesn’t always understand.

Such is his belief in me, that when I ride him I can ask him to jump huge obstacles even though his eyesight range means he can’t see them from about 3 meters before he needs to make a literal leap of faith. He flies almost blind.

This is all very impressive, you’re thinking. But why should I care?

Well. When you’re driving your car and you see me on my horse, quietly walking along the road, I want you first to know I care about you.

I have spent a LOT of time teaching him not to be afraid of you. So it is safe for you to drive past us. Even though he can’t see you if you’re behind him, or driving directly towards him I would bet my limited bank account on him not reacting when you suddenly “appear” in his field of monocular vision.

As you approach and pass us, feel reassured by the fact that I am up there on his back constantly assessing possible risks. I’m scanning the landscape trying to anticipate anything which may cause the training he’s had all his life (as good as it is if I do say so myself) to fail.

In all situations I place my horse in, I take every action I can to mitigate the risks associated with an out of control 1360lb animal.

In fact, I feel it my duty as his rider is to protect him, you and myself from injury whilst we are out and about.

Sometimes though, things happen beyond my control. Things you can’t hear in your car with the music playing. 

A pheasant for example might take flight from his cover and burst shrieking from a hedge bottom, or a fly tipper may have kindly left a pile of rustling garbage bags in a ditch which wasn’t there yesterday, and these things startle my horse.

He’s a good boy you see and he wants to do the right thing, but he still has some fairly heavy duty evolutionary wiring that tells him run first, think later if he perceives himself to be in danger.

A good and recent example of this would I be when I was out hacking through a small village near my home and was surprised to find on my return that my GPS tracking app recorded a spike of movement clocking 39 mph. 

We walked the whole hack, but that speed of nearly 40mph was achieved in a single leap sideway’s across the road when a well meaning kid came sprinting out from behind a wall screaming “PONY!” because he wanted to stroke my horse.

In a single split second he went from the correct side of the road to the wrong side. My horse can’t help that reaction when this sort of thing happens any more than you can control yours if someone leaps out and startles you.

When you drive past me out riding, know that I will be courteous and careful because I want you to be safe. I will Thank You with a smile and a wave when you slow down, and I will even look round blind corners from my high vantage point on narrow country lanes and wave you on if it’s safe to go.

Consider this though driver. At that moment as you are passing me on a blind corner on my signal, you’re trusting me, a stranger, that there is no oncoming traffic concealed from your view about to annihilate you.

Your life is literally in my hands and I take that responsibility seriously. I want you to know that. I would NEVER put you at risk. Ever.

So why would you put YOURSELF at risk by not waiting until it’s safe to pass my horse? Do you really value your life less than a stranger on their pony values your life?

Try to remember as you rush to your office, that when I ask you to slow down for horses as you pass me it isn’t just because I’m selfish and would rather not see my best friend die on the tarmac if he was to accidentally leap into your cars path.

It’s because we have a MUTUAL responsibility to keep one another safe on the roads and I know for a fine fact that if my horse hurtles through your windscreen at a combined speed of 60mph, he’ll just as likely kill you and your family as he will himself and me.

I’ve done and continue to do everything in my power to make him safe for you to be around. I see that as my responsibility as a horse owner.

Keeping YOURSELF safe by passing wide and slow enough to make sure your lap isn’t the one he lands in if my training fails him for a second..

That my friend is on you.

P.S If your not sure how to pass; 15mph, leave a few meters between him and you. Don’t drive close behind him, or squeeze close to his side. When you’re at his side YOU are most at risk. He isn’t scared of your car, so he won’t hesitate to flatten it if he decides he’s scared of something else. Pass him as safely and as quickly as you can then accelerate away gently.

Be aware of the terrain you’re driving on. You may think you’re doing me a big favour by chucking your car into the verge to give us room but on stony country lanes your tyres throw up gravel from the roadside which hit’s my horse and he doesn’t like that much.

Lastly, if you need to take any sudden action behind the wheel or lose control of your car in proximity to my horse can I suggest you bang the horn to warn us?

It may sound counter intuitive to you, but he hears that noise all the time at competitions, it isn’t scary for him. If a horn blasts we know to move. It might give he and I a valuable fraction of a second to clear out your path and save all our lives.

 

If you read this far, Thank you. Drive safe.