I started this thread because elsewhere a rider had been complaining about the common experience of meeting with an inconsiderate car driver. However as is usual comment in such debates, the responsibilities of both the horse and the rider were not highlighted, Only too often I have witnessed hackers ride out into the local environment who lacked the skill to properly control their horses in a semi urban environment.
I am also well aware that of all the accidents I personally have suffered over almost forty years of riding, none have to my certain knowledge been reported to a central authority such as the police, the insurance company or the British Horse Society. Consequently I believe that any statistics recording the number of accidents involving horses must be understated . Over the last ten years, of the ten falls from a horse which I can remember, only two injuries involved my visiting the local accident and emergency department. Not one incident involved third parties and not one formed a basis of a claim by me on my insurers for personal accident injury. At the time of the accidents, I could not see any benefit from my taking the trouble to write a report or to make a claim especially since there was no legal obligation for me to do so. Horse riding is regarded as being a dangerous sport for the rider but riding a horse out into the community can also involve the innocent, or not so innocent, onlooker. An inconsiderate car driver can easily spook a horse but equally a bolting horse can easily frighten a pedestrian especially one walking along a common path with a dog on a lead or a young child walking in hand. Nowadays I find the mix of sports cyclists with horses on bridle paths particularly hazardous since the bike coming up from behind makes very little noise.
I live on 94,000 square miles of island known as Great Britain. Generally speaking it is a very orderly environment in which most human activity is regulated in one way or another. There is however no enforced reason why any private horse rider /owner need comply with any rules. Indeed many owners do not register their horses under the horse passport scheme, nor do they belong to a national horse orientated organisation, such as the British Horse Society and neither do they insure their animals. Many owners do not even register their horse with a local vet.
I was once told by the local police that the biggest problem which the horse presented to them was that unmarked horses escaped from the fields on which they had been grazing. The identification of the loose animal was the first problem for the policeman to overcome. The skills of catching a horse did not come as standard police training, so in some scenarios the gun provides a simple solution to catching a runaway horse. A senior officer said that the problem might be solved by a ‘horse’ name tag although he was ignoring the issue of actually containing the horse. Even in the UK we do not have a national identity register of horses and their owners and it would appear to me that the lack of a universal identification register was the first issue to be tackled..
I am not an overt fan of introducing further intrusive legislation but this whole equestrian scenario looks to be an anomaly in this safety conscious modern world. Happily the Health and Safety Executive is not often involved. It would seem that the relatively small number of incidents involving horses does not present a serious problem. Whereas enforcing any new legislation might prove to be onerous and its value might not be justified by the number of incidents - especially since the majority of accidents probably will continue to go unrecorded.
The first question when discussing this issue must be whether the segment of the population, namely the horse owner, which is potentially affected the most by any new laws sees the effort to be of value. I personally can see some value to Government in that accurate statistics of incidents must be available in order to make decisions about policy pn the matter. On HF.com, from an initial assessment of the responses to this thread from members, it would seem that new legislation would be seen as being intrusive, expensive and of little value to the horse owners. But is it?
That all family pets (horses, dogs and cats) could be identified at birth either through a chip, or a freeze mark or a tag, seems to me to be a safety benefit for the animal, whose ownership could then be readily established from a compulsory national data base. It is also desirable that the identification number be clearly visible on the animal. I can envisage how any new system could be abused but that doesn’t negate its potential value to all those concerned. .
My guess is that at some time legislation will be imposed by Government. It is only a question of when.