Horserider’s road safety warning

MOTORISTS need to show more respect to horses and their riders, a local carriage-driver has warned.

Sara Clinghan, chair of the Northern Ireland Carriage Drivers Association, recalled the verbal abuse and aggressive behaviour she has been on the receiving end of in the past, as some motorists drive at high speeds and fail to slow down when passing the animals on the roads.

Sara, who has worked with horses all her life, stressed that the majority of motorists are very courteous but added that a small number of people fail to show any understanding when they meet horses and their riders on the roads.

“I have seen people drive right up towards the back of you and the horse and attempt to overtake at high speeds,” she said. “I’ve also had quite a bit of verbal abuse from some drivers.

“Most drivers do slow down and pass when it is safe, and I always try and acknowledge them with a wave or nod my head if I can.”

But the carriage driver said she is surprised there haven’t been any serious accidents as a result of the way some motorists act on the roads.

“From my experience, and the experiences of those I have spoken to, we are very lucky there hasn’t been a serious accident on the roads in this area,” she said. “If I hear a driver coming at high speed I would usually move the horse out into the middle of the road so as to warn the motorist that they need to slow down and when they do that I would move in again and let them pass.

“If a driver, whether they are in a car or lorry, is driving at a high speed there is more chance of a collision and there are consequences for the horse, the rider and those travelling in the vehicle.”

Sara also warned that joggers with earphones in and cyclists need to be careful not to alarm a horse as they pass.

“Although most people do, I think some still need to realise that we have as much right to be on the road with our horses as anyone else,” she said. “This is our job and we have to do it hail, rain or shine.

“I would like to thanks all those who co-operated in the past and ask that all motorists please do so in future.”