Know the rules of the road when sharing it with horseback riders

  • Mirana Fiore of Temple rides on Route 45, where she had a close call last month when a car passing too fast startled her horse. Courtesy photos—

  • Mirana Fiore of Temple rides on Route 45, where she had a close call last month when a car passing too fast startled her horse. Courtesy photos—

  • Mirana Fiore of Temple rides on Route 45, where she had a close call last month when a car startled her horse. Courtesy photos—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 6/12/2019 1:12:25 PM

As the summer days begin, horseback riders are on the road – and experiencing some close calls with vehicles.

Miranda Fiore, 12, of Temple was riding down Route 45 recently to a trail when a passing car startled her horse, Cookie, as well as Castle, the horse her friend was riding. Fiore said it was her first time taking Cookie out onto a road. Castle, who is a more seasoned horse, was also startled when the car passed by too fast, Fiore said.

“He was going really fast. I kept trying to tell him to slow down, but he just wouldn’t,” Fiore said.

It was only one of several incidents with cars and drivers that week among riders at the Temple Hills Equestrian Center, owned by Fiore’s mother, Crisann Sullivan.

Sullivan said there was another incident around the same time in which the occupants of a car yelled out the window in what appeared to be an attempt to purposely startle the rider’s horse.

“I don’t feel safe when it happens,” Fiore said. “I feel like someone some day won’t move over and almost hit me.”

It’s not a matter of an inexperienced rider, Sullivan said. Even though her daughter has been in the saddle since she could walk, even experienced riders and experienced horses need to be given consideration on roadways, Sullivan said.

“People don’t understand that it’s not a bike. It’s a horse, it can think. Anything can spook a horse,” Sullivan said. “A deer or another animal can come out of the woods and spook the horse into the road. Even if you have control, even if the horse is well-trained, we can’t think for them.”

The law specifies drivers need to give horses enough space on the road to ensure the safety of the riders.

The law specifies when approaching a horse, drivers must “drive, manage and control such vehicle in such a manner as to exercise every reasonable precaution to prevent the frightening of such horse.”

Peterborough Police Chief Scott Guinard said drivers should use the same basic safety precautions they would take when approaching anyone on the side of the road.

“Much like for bicyclists or pedestrians, go around if there’s room to do it safely, don’t make excessive noise such as blowing the horn or gunning the engine, or anything that might startle the horse,” Guinard said. “It’s a matter of common sense and courtesy to slow down, give it a wide berth, and don’t use any audible signals.”

Horses and horse-drawn carriages or carts have to follow the rules of the road, too, being treated basically as a vehicle under the law, Guinard said, but that also means cars don’t have an automatic right-of-way over horses.

Guinard said complaint calls regarding interactions between cars and horses are relatively rare. Most people, he said, are accustomed to the etiquette of passing horseback riders.

Sullivan said drivers should slow down, watch for riders, and if possible, allow riders to signal when they’re ready to be passed to avoid accidents.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.




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