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Drivers, horse riders should take care

Slow down, swing wide and don’t accelerate

  • Pam Falkins of Touchstone Farm cautions drivers to slow down and exercise caution around horses. April 12, 2016 (Benji Rosen / Monadnock Ledger-Transcipt)

  • Pam Falkins of Touchstone Farm cautions drivers to slow down and exercise caution around horses. April 12, 2016 (Benji Rosen / Monadnock Ledger-Transcipt)



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Monday, April 18, 2016 6:31PM

It’s a sunny, spring day, and Pam Falkins is riding her horse along a dirt road. When she hears the rattle of a pickup truck from behind, Falkins grabs the reins, gestures the driver to slow down and swing wide, and prays her horse doesn’t startle and turn off the road or worse, into the passing vehicle.

“I know everybody is in a rush,” said Falkins, the lesson program coordinator and vaulting instructor at the Touchstone Farm horse riding school. “I’ll get out of the way. You just have to slow down a little for me to do that.”

The scenario is a common one for riders, so much so that it’s illegal in New Hampshire to speed by a horse and rider. RSA 265:104 requires any driver that approaches a horse must drive “in such a manner as to exercise every reasonable precaution to prevent the frightening of such horse, and to ensure the safety and protection of any person riding or driving the same.” A reckless driver can receive a traffic violation. Yet, accidents still happen.

In 2012, a teenager broke her pelvis and her horse was killed by a car that struck them in Milton. And about two months ago, a Texas woman and her horse were killed when a semi-trailer didn’t see them. Falkins had this advice for drivers and riders.

Drivers

As soon as you see a horse, step off the accelerator, and keep your foot near the brake.

Wait to pass the horse.

Once you see an opening, swing wide, while keeping your foot off the accelerator until you have already passed the animal. If you accelerate near the horse, it could startle and turn into the vehicle.

Treat a horse like a child playing ball in the street. “It could be your daughter or son on a trail riding lesson,” said Falkins.

Riders

Consider if your horse is too skittish for trail riding.

If are unsure, have a friend walk alongside you to calm the horse, or bring along another, more confident horse. Horses are herd animals, said Falkins, and respond to each other’s behaviors.

Consider wearing a bright vest or reflective clothing to alert drivers.

Benji Rosen can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 228.

Twitter @BenjiRosenMLT