I know horses are not common on streets anymore, and the sight of Apollo and I along the road could be confusing for most drivers. Especially those who have never been around horses and don't understand how they react to stuff. But after a year of horse travel along roads, I have seen enough bad driving that belies even common sense that I am compelled to write this public safety message on how to drive around a horse.
Here it is, folks:
Please do both. This is not multiple choice.
It should be that simple. But despite the sign on my back, it must not be if the actions of drivers around the country have been any indication.
So let’s break it down.
Pass wide! If a horse along the road suddenly runs or jumps into the road out of fear of something on the side of the road, this will give everyone extra room to prevent an accident. Simply moving over a half lane is silly – if you’re already going to move partially into another lane, just move all the way over!
The biggest problems I have had along the road is people not moving over at all or just slightly. While Apollo is excellent around even the largest and scariest of vehicles, there are still moments that a driver scares me – or him. There are also still moments (and always will be, as he is a living and thinking being) that he will step sideways into the road – to move around a hole or a broken bottle, or from being startled by a deer or a funny looking bush.
And for God’s sake, if there is oncoming traffic preventing you from passing, just wait! It probably won’t slow you down more than 10 seconds. My life is worth more than 10 seconds of your time. (And yes, I’ve counted the seconds from when people have passed us unsafely and when the next break in traffic comes).
Pass slow! If a horse along the road suddenly runs or jumps into the road out of fear of something on the side of the road, you need to be able to stop in time! If you have to honk to tell me to get out of the way, you were going too fast. Simply taking your foot off the gas pedal does NOT count.
The biggest problems I have had could have been prevented if the drivers had actually slowed down to pass.
Horses on the road are still legal transportation in most places. It is ALWAYS the driver’s responsibility to move safely around them.
A note for cyclists - this message applies to you also! On the road and on the trail.
And finally, a note on honking (or bicycle chimes). If you are honking to alert us you’re coming, please don’t. I know you’re there, and so does Apollo – you are in a loud vehicle, and I am in open air (no sound proofed car cabin around me!). Bicyclists, speak to be known! If you are honking to say hi, hello to you too! Thanks for being friendly and aware. Apollo does not mind your friendly honking, but other horses usually would – so you’re welcome to honk at us, but please don’t honk at other riders because you might scare their horses.