Cycling around horse riders

June 1, 2014

In our travels around roads in West Auckland, there are often instances where you may encounter people on horses. It is CRITICAL that any members of our club behave in a safe and responsible manner when we see people riding - both for their safety, but also for your own and that of the general public.


Here is a great set of guidelines that we suggest you read and apply to your cycling around people of horses.




A horse is unlikely to see or hear you, especially if you are approaching quietly from behind. Calling out ‘hello’ for walkers or equestrians is welcome and important in alerting horses and riders that you are there. Try not to get too close before you call

out or you will startle both horse and rider. If possible, ask the horse rider if it is safe to pass before attempting to go by and call again if they haven’t heard you. If you decide to stand to the side of the road to allow equestrians to pass you, it is a good idea to make sure that the horse can still see you as it approaches, that way it will not be frightened when it suddenly spots you at the side of the track or road.

If the horse you meet has been frightened by your presence, give the rider a chance to calm the horse and move out of your way before you move off again. Please don’t be annoyed if a horse rider doesn’t appear to acknowledge your kindness and consideration. They do appreciate your help but may be concentrating on controlling and calming their horse to avoid falling off.




If you are taking part in a cycling event, your concern will be to get by as quickly as possible, but please pass slowly with consideration and let riders know you are coming through. A speeding cyclist coming out of the blue may startle some horses and a group of speeding cyclists is even more likely to do so – take great care and if it is obvious you need to stop, then please do so; it may save a serious incident. Please heed a rider's request to slow down or stop for the safety of all involved.

Equestrians may be attempting to get out of your way into a safe place in order to let you pass – help them to do so by adjusting your speed and keeping a safe distance from them.




Most horses are used to traffic passing them on the right so pass them as you would anyone else; don’t cut inside, and allow plenty of room in case the horse is surprised or startled. Riders may need to ride two abreast for safety, particularly when escorting a young or inexperienced horse or rider – please give them a chance to sort themselves out before you go by.




Large groups of cyclists are very scary for horses. Passing in small groups of no more than four or five will really help. If you are in a large group, make your presence known so that equestrians can try and find somewhere safe  to stop, allowing you all to pass at the same time. Do give them time to get to a safe spot.




Wearing fluorescent and reflective clothing helps other users see you earlier and gives them more time to plan where best to position themselves. Use effective lights when riding at night or in poor daylight conditions.




Hoof marks or fresh dung are good signs that there could be horses about. Please don’t forget to say ‘thank you’ when courtesy and consideration are shown to you – a smile, nod or brief wave is sufficient and means a great deal. Next time it may save a difficult situation when it could be you who needs consideration.


This excerpt was based on advice from 


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