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Help requested posted on 28th February 2017:

Equestrian Collisions

As is frequently seen in collision records horses become 'spooked' by various externalities. Is this considered a loss of control? Views most welcome.

Dan

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Response posted on 28th February 2017 by:
Mark Gregory

E: mark.gregory@atkinsglobal.com
T:

Equestrian Collisions

If the horse's reaction to being spooked is to unseat the rider or cause the rider to lose control of the horse, then it could be considered loss of control.

As there is no universal definitions of accident types as far as I know, if it seems a reasonable definition you can define the accident type how you like.

The 'various externalities' are possible contributory factors to the loss of control accident.

Note I am using the word accident which defines the event better - the horse may not actually collide with something but the rider could have a collision with the ground. (Accident/crash/collision is another discussion.)

From what I read or been told is that horses are very sensitive and unpredictable so a bird moving in a hedge can be enough to 'spook' them.


Response posted on 1st March 2017 by:
Mark Foweraker

E: m.foweraker@cardiff.gov.uk
T:

Equestrian Collisions

As far as I know Stats 19 records require the involvement of a vehicle* and a "solo" rider fell from a horse may have the status of a pedestrian fell over or a wheel chair user toppled and not be included unless it was a vehicle (user's action) that caused the chain of events ending up with the injury.

*This is normally a motor vehicle but I believe bicycles count as they are a mechanically propelled vehicle. This 'fine distinction' is why cyclist / pedestrian collisions, particularly off the carriageway are thought by some to be under reported.


Response posted on 1st March 2017 by:
Dan

E: Daniel.trump@jacobs.com
T:

Equestrian Collisions

See you're point Mark F but a ridden horse is classed as a vehicle. If you were to be cycling fast around a bend and collide with a LC causing injury it would be recorded as a PIC, same can be said for a ridden horse.

Whats caused my question is that the 'loss of control' contributory factor applies to all vehicle types, though the ridden horse is the only vehicle which has two independent brains. LOC for a car = drivers fault, LOC for a P2W = riders fault (excluding mechanical failure, drugs/drink, or carriageway defect etc).

Mark G -correct, horses are unpredictable. You say for the rider to lose control of the horse, or does the horse take away control from the rider. Is the rider ever fully in control going back to my two brains comment?


Response posted on 1st March 2017 by:
Helen Cray

E: helen.cray@redbridge.gov.uk
T: 020 87083577

Equestrian Collisions

Hi Dan,
Having been involved as a rider in a collision with a van (rider and horse were only bruised and emotionally damaged, thankfully no serious injury) we were out on a busy road, as the van passed it clipped the back leg of the horse and knocked her over, it was all very quick and I think the horse must have moved slightly to the right for the van to have been close enough to knock her over, I naturally never felt I was at fault, the driver was very concerned and kept in touch to ensure myself and horse were ok, my conversation with the driver was just to advise, if you see a horse and rider slow down because horses are unpredictable and can react very quickly to a sometimes small insignificant situations or objects.

An experienced rider should be aware of their horses temperament and know how to control their horse in the event of situations arising, ensuring the horse is equipped with the right tack (bit,nose-band,martingale) to enable the rider keep control of the horse in situations, as even a bold and calm horse can react to objects that it may not have come across before i.e. a piece of flapping paper or rubbish in the hedge, this can suddenly cause a horse to use its natural instinct to escape from what it does not understand.

On your question of loss of control, I think you could to a certain point say the rider should be in control of the situation i.e. assess the route they are taking, is this route suitable to the horses temperament, the horse may be undisturbed by traffic, but does flapping rubbish, road works freak him out, can the rider deal with this when it occurs, is there enough trust between horse and rider that the rider can reassure the horse enough to take control, therefore I would say the rider is responsible to take control of pre-planning, as is expected by drivers, there is a need to think ahead and use a degree of hazard perception as best as possible, therefore the rider should always be forward thinking and ready for a reaction by the horses fear, but on saying that horses are not mechanical and if a horse becomes frightened you cannot stop a horse from trying to move away from his fear, it is only then that a riders control can come into play, in calming the horse enabling to either convince the horse its ok to pass the hazard or to take him away from his fear, therefore this still relies on the motorist being aware of this and always passing a horse wide and slow, allowing the rider to deal with a horse who may become spooked.

I think it comes down to all road users sharing and respecting each other, here’s to the perfect world!

Kind regards
Helen


Response posted on 2nd March 2017 by:
renata barnes

E: renata.barnes@jacobs.com
T:

Equestrian Collisions

As a Road Safety Engineer and an experienced horse rider I am not keen on the classification as 'LOC'. I feel more often than not any description written by the police will refer to 'horse spooked', not to say this isn't true in many cases but there are very rarely any further details given regarding WHY the horse spooked....like vehicle rounded bend too fast, vehicle passed too close to horse, large vehicle failed to stop when asked by rider (granted I may be slightly biased!).
In a general collision study I would just single them out as equestrian collisions. If you had a few of them then further info could be expanded on IF it's available within the written description.


Response posted on 2nd March 2017 by:
Alan Hiscox

E: alan.hiscox@bhs.org.uk
T:

Equestrian Collisions

'Loss of control' can mean many things to many people.

The Highway Code Rule 52 says:
"Before you take a horse onto a road, you should... make sure you can control the horse."
I take this to mean that in normal circumstances the rider can ride the horse effectively. In layman's terms, the rider can stop, go, ride in a straight line,turn left and right and use their aids to influence the horses direction of travel. They should also have correctly fitting tack that is in good condition.

When these normal circumstances are interrupted by a car passing too close or too fast, a plastic bag blowing out into the road in front of a horse, a dog suddenly running up to a gate from a garden and barking, the element of control can become tested.

Horses are flight animals and this has to be accepted, they will never lose that element of their nature, that is an evolutionary process. Even the best trained police horse can react to a sudden movement or noise.

Therefore loss of control and the reason for it can be a very subjective test but would be objectively tested by lawyers in the event of a claim.

I fully support Helen's comments about the rider should take responsibility for taking all precautions possible to enhance their control of the situation and their horse.

The British Horse Society's 'Dead Slow' campaign educates drivers on how to pass horses safely. 'Dead Slow' gives ALL drivers advice that will drastically reduce the chances of riders losing control because of the speed and distance vehicles pass horses.
www.bhs.org.uk/safety-and-accidents/dead-slow

'Dead Slow' won Driver Education Campaign of the Year Award 2016 from the Driving Instructors Association.


Response posted on 18th March 2017 by:
Tim Askew

E: tim.askew@enterprisemouchel.com
T:

Equestrian Collisions

STATS20 clearly states that the loss of control contributory factor applies to horse riders:
"410 Loss of control - This code should be used where a driver/rider lost control of their vehicle, thereby causing or contributing to an accident, whether or not they were considered to be at fault. Wherever possible, at least one more code should be allocated to the same driver/rider to give an indication of why they lost control.
Includes ridden horses."
The fact that they've added the specific qualifier makes it clear that this is how it is supposed to be used ... although I'm not sure how many Police forces will be aware of this!


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