All in this Together

Yesterday was agood day. It was… drum roll please… sunny and unnervingly warm.. much fun was had with the horses, with Florence being ridden by no less than 3 people, me, Ben, and,,wait for it, Hal! Yes, that’s right, Hal is back in the saddle. Neither of us can remember when he last tried to ride, but it’s got to be about October. He tried to get on Breeze, but the act of mounting up was so painful that he had to get straight off. This time though things were a lot better, and he managed several laps of the school. Brilliant.

Before this I did a short schooling session with the Talking Letters running. Things were so good that Hal was briefly able to leave the school while I was riding.

The one blot on the day was a worrying experience a friend of ours had while out riding. In a narrow lane (they’re all narrow round here) our friend and her pony encountered 3 cyclists. Now, the pony in question is fine with bikes, , but he can be a little bit spooky about birds and other animals, that might be moving around in, or on the other side of, hedges. So as a precaution, our friend signalled to the cyclists to slow down. The first two, Who were riding together, slowed down, past my friend slowly and as widely as they could , and were generally polite and friendly. However, cyclist number three was a completely different kettle of fish. Instead of slowing down on our friends signal, actually got faster. Let’s just say that this individual did not pass wide and slow, and was far from friendly and polite. Thankfully nobody got hurt, but it all got a bit messy..

Now, well I don’t personally understand it, I accept the fact that there are people on this Earth who do not like horses. I realise that, many people just do not understand the nature of the horse. There are also people who, misguidedly, equate horses and horse riding with some status of privilege and elitism. What I will never understan it’s why some people have a blatant disregard for their own life. Even if you are a died in the wool psychopath who could kill or injure an animal as soon as look at it, or who thinks the kind of person who rides horses is expendable, what about your own life? Do you really want to be seriously injured, or even killed? Horses are not machines, they are living, breathing, sentient beings, with their own thoughts, feelings, and agenda.. I recently heard horses described as working from a health and Safety risk assessment that is thousands of years old. This is why, although a horse may be totally unfazed by even the heaviest of traffic, it will jump into the path of an oncoming artic when it’s brain mistakes a butterfly for a pterodactyl. . Another unavoidable fact about horses is they are heavy.

, extremely heavy. Florence, who is admittedly overweight at the moment, currently weighs in at 603kg, and Magnum used to average around 750kg. Let’s face it, no amount of Lycra is going to save you if that much horse lands on you. If you really want nightmares, go on line and look for what happens when an average size horse lands on an average car. It’s mot pretty. All the campaigns about passing horses wide and slo are as much about your safety as ours.Hang on a minute though, but don’t cyclists want be treated with courtesy and respect? Isn’t one of the biggest complaints lthat vehicles pass them too close and too fast? Hmmm, let’s think about this shall we? So you think it’s dangerous for a cyclist when another road users don’t pass you at an appropriate speed or distance do you? Well you’re right. OK, so it’s unlikely that your bike is suddenly leap sideways because it did’t like the look of that dustbin, but what if you hit a pothole,have a puncture, your chain falls off…?

The sad fact is that cyclists and horse riders, together with motorcyclists, are all extremely bolnerable on the roads.. . All three groups are not only physically vulnerable, due to the fact that they are not strapped inside a specially constructed metal box, in addition all 3 groups get squeezed out, pushed around , and just not noticed by other road users. Personally I don’t believe that many drivers intend to endanger the lives of other road users. After all, most cyclists, Horse riders, and even motorcyclists also drive cars, and may drive vans, lorries, buses, tractors etc when they are at work. . I’ve known many a horse rider who either cycles to the yard or write their motorbike. I ride a tandem myself. Shouldn’t we all be a little bit more supportive of each other? Treat other vulnerable road users the way you would want to be treated yourself. Be polite courteous, and give each other plenty of room. After all rudeness, bully boy tactics, and endangering life, whether that be your own life or somebody else’s, just never won any hearts or minds. Horse riders really don’t want to have to write on the road, and I doubt very many cyclists do either. So let’s look out for each other out there. After all we’re all in this together.

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