Only few stables are in the middle of nowhere and nearly every horse needs to get used to cars and traffic noises. Horses should already get used to these environmental elements in the first years of their lives. In best case the pasture is located directly next to a street – then the horse automatically gets used to the noise and speed of the big cars.
Horses slowly need to get used to the traffic noises
Many horses first react frightened to new and unnatural environmental elements.
Especially cars seem to be big, loud and fast. For reasons of safety horses slowly need to get used to cars, motorbikes and tractors. The first contact with the new vehicles should be in a familiar environment (e.g. the area around the horse stable). The vehicles should not move so that the horse has time to get used to their shape and smell.
For your first rides beyond the stable you should choose a street with only few cars passing. Additionally it might be very helpful to be accompanied by an experienced horse whose sovereignty can help your own horse to relax and stay calm. At any time the rider needs to be aware of an unexpected reaction of the horse. Especially loud and hissing noises, fluttering tarps, coloured road markings and gully covers can cause balking or even jumping reactions of the nervous horse. These dangerous situations can be prevented with special training units in the riding arena or on the paddock.
Here you can find some ideas for an effective ground training:
- Colorful ideas against dark and endless winter days – ground training
- Get past the fear: training units that help horses to overcome their anxieties -Part 1
- Ground training: exercises with colorful ground bars activate the awareness of horse
- Lunge Training Course – Field Report No. 1 – Practical lunging
Traffic rules for riders
For reasons of safety the rider needs to follow certain traffic rules. Before he turns left or right or even crosses the street he needs to give a clear sign with his hand. Then all traffic members know where horse and rider want to go and can react accordingly. Before turning he needs to look behind his back and control the traffic situation. Sometimes cars and motorbikes are very quit so one can hardly hear them. Additionally some drivers are completely inattentive to the body language of the rider but only concentrate on the movements of the horse.
In general it is forbidden to ride on highways, footpaths and bikeways. Riders are part of the general traffic and need to obey all rules, traffic lights and traffic signs. A group of riders needs to wait until all horses are together and then cross the street in groups of two. At any time one needs to expect that the other traffic members react wrong and cause dangerous situations (only keep small distance to the horse, do not slow down before passing the horse, do not give any sign before they turn left or right, suddenly stop, etc.).
A ride at night
If you want to take a ride at night you need to wear a lamp at your left riding boot. The lamp shines white to the front and red to the back. Additionally we recommend to tie reflective straps around your horses’ legs and to wear a reflective jacket. Especially at night the attention of all riders needs to be very high.
For reasons of safety: Respect and tolerance on the street
The only way to avoid discussions and disputes between riders and car drivers is mutual consideration and respect. Riders are thankful if a car passes the horse with a distance of at least 6.5 foot. And car drivers are thankful if a rider recognizes the line of cars behind him and rides into a small bend at the side of the street so that all cars can pass the horse. Both traffic actors need to be respectful and tolerant. This especially refers to horse droppings on the street. After the ride the horse owner or rider needs to shovel the droppings from the street. But this, however, might take some time and car drivers need to be patient.