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WWYD? Road riding in the dark?

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  • #21
    Originally posted by Heinz 57 View Post
    My biggest concern would be staying visible to drivers - flashing lights, reflective gear, whatever is necessary.
    Pick up a set of those LED flashers that cyclists wear & secure them to his boots /legs - must admit for road riding, I'd boot
    Add flashers to his bridle & tail (+ whatever you want to add to yourself) & any motorists should be able to discern that it's a horse & rider.

    I'm not sure I'd trot on an asphalt road ...


    • #22
      I think I would feel safer on the type of road you describe. There is no where safe to ride on the roads near the barn where I board. For a mile in either direction it is very curvy with some hills as well. No shoulder and a ditch with an uphill bank on the other side of the ditch. Luckily, the farm is 100 acres, plus we can ride on several neighboring farms without having to go out on the road. I think if I were you, I may go on a foot walk first, just to scope it out and then play it by ear with riding.


      • #23
        No! I understand the money situation, but plz, it takes no time to get hurt. Seriously hurt. You could go months, and be great. One distracted driver at the same time a deer comes out can end it. This ISNT the same as bikes! You have another being, who can think on on!
        May the sun shine on you daily, and your worries be gone with the wind.


        • #24
          Those quiet roads are dangerous. They speed on them!!!
          Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

          Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


          • #25
            There's a huge difference between daytime and dusk/dawn. Horses (and Amish buggies) are HARD to see, especially in low light conditions. That assumes, of course, the driver is 1. looking and 2. cares. One evening, DH and I were in a 35 mph zone, coming into a town, and saw something odd in the road. Thank the diety of your choice that he's a careful driver and immediately slowed way down--it was two riders on horses, one of whom was waving a flashlight behind her to alert overtaking traffic. We absolutely couldn't tell what it was and how far ahead it was until the headlights picked up the horses and we had a moment to realize what we were seeing. By then, we were right on top of them, even at about 25 mph. Scared *us*, and we were the ones in a big truck.

            My answer would be slightly more optimistic if you could ALWAYS know when a vehicle is coming and get a safe distance off the road for it to pass. Always, always (while realizing you aren't going to see holes, sharp metal, and glass bottles until your horse finds them). I grew up on a dirt road, and that was my policy even in the daytime (which is the only time I rode on the road). Sounds like your next step ought to be taking out a big life/disability insurance policy on yourself. No joke.


            • #26
              Maybe because Im from SW London, and have worked for the mounted police I have a different view but as long as you take the necessary precautions then by all means ride on the roads but be constantly prepared. Is it not common for horses to be ridden on the roads inthe states?
              Plenty of reflective and Hi Viz gear and proper flashing lights, and also a common knowledge of when to get off the road, and hand signals and surely you will be fine.
              Im from England- Don't bite!


              • #27

                add stirrup lights and a flashing vest too!
                Im from England- Don't bite!


                • #28
                  I wouldn't. I know it sucks...but honestly, a lot of people used to give their horses winter off. Not worth the vet or doctor bills...or worse. It will only be another month or so and you will have light again. Give him some time off or just hack out on the weekend when you can in day light.

                  I would get the reflective gear....its good for hunters seeing you too....but I wouldn't purposely ride out on the roads in the dark. Keep it to the daylight where you can see better (for when you are trying to get out of the way). Other things to think about beside cars....trash on the road. Stepping on a bottle or other trash can really cause damage to your horse and it is hard to see in the dark.
                  ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **


                  • #29
                    I wouldn't do it either. It only takes one moment of horse-idiocy and driver inattention and it's all over for you, the horse and the driver.

                    If it was a back, dirt road with no traffic, that's a different story, but even a hit at 15mph is still catastrophic.

                    I was walking down the road on foot the other day, on the dirt shoulder and the driver didn't slow down or move over an inch and i was startled by how fast he appeared to be going - doesn't bother me when I'm on a horse - you're up higher, but on foot, it's scary. He was probably going 35, maybe 40 and it felt like 65 as he passed.

                    If you had said you saw one car in that hour it would be safer, but 10? That's too much for me.

                    And I hear you on the 'no place to ride with out a trailer trip' issue. Sometimes in the winter I have no place to and therefore don't ride.


                    • #30
                      Originally posted by Snugglerug View Post
                      You may have clear sight lines, but it won't to you a darn bit of good if the drivers aren't looking at the road. Give some thought to the number of people texting and driving, then decide if it's worth the risk of being hit by one of them.

                      Though honestly, it sounds like you've made up you're mind to do it and are just looking for validation.
                      Also, dusk and dawn can put glare on winshields that make it very hard for drivers to see.


                      • #31
                        Agh, you have to live a little... no doubt that this is a risk. But life is risky and we still do the things we love. Do what you can to minimize your risks, take the precautions you can, and then see how you feel doing it. If you're uber-stressed and having heart palpitations the whole time I'm willing to bet you won't do it anymore

                        You say this is a straight, clear stretch of road in a community where horses are "known" and people tend to be respectful. The speed limit is reasonable at 35. As long as you can see that a car is approaching and can keep a good eyeball on them (i.e. move off the road if necessary) I think you're fine. Yes car accidents can happen - but we still drive. And cyclists still cycle.

                        Make sure that you're as glow in the dark as possible with reflective gear. I've learned from the top human factors experts in the world that it is key that you be identifiable - i.e. bright blob does not attract the human eye as much as a bright identifiable blob. Think of the construction workers who wear reflectors - they are designed to make sure we can see that they are humans. Likewise, make sure that people can identify you (through the reflectors) as horse & human - to me that means reflectors on hooves, reflective jacket/vest on you and ideally some sort of quarter sheet that shows cars that this is a horse and rider they are approaching.

                        Best of luck to you and be careful! Trust your gut - if the drivers in your area start making you stress while doing this then you know its not for you!

                        Edited to add a very gloomy warning:
                        Make sure you have liability insurance that covers the actions of your horse. If your horse spooks (they are horses after all) and does something to contribute to a car accident, you could be held responsible. Car vs horses collisions don't just result in death to the horse - you could kill the human. Horses are similar enough to moose that hitting one usually means that the hooves come through the windshield killing the driver.


                        • #32
                          Originally posted by prittstick View Post
                          Maybe because Im from SW London, and have worked for the mounted police I have a different view but as long as you take the necessary precautions then by all means ride on the roads but be constantly prepared. Is it not common for horses to be ridden on the roads inthe states?
                          Plenty of reflective and Hi Viz gear and proper flashing lights, and also a common knowledge of when to get off the road, and hand signals and surely you will be fine.
                          No, it is not common at all. I've run into a horse on the road maybe once in my entire life, and I am middle-aged. That's my point.

                          I wish it were more common and I wish the US had a more mass-transit/pedestrian/bicycle/scooter friendly culture, but we don't. It's all cars, all the time.
                          If thou hast a sorrow, tell it not to the arrow, tell it to thy saddlebow, and ride on, singing. -- King Alfred the Great


                          • #33
                            Originally posted by Rallycairn View Post
                            No, it is not common at all. I've run into a horse on the road maybe once in my entire life, and I am middle-aged. That's my point.

                            I wish it were more common and I wish the US had a more mass-transit/pedestrian/bicycle/scooter friendly culture, but we don't. It's all cars, all the time.

                            It does depend on where you live. I live near amish country...and in significant Hunt/Horse country. Where I live, most farms set their fence lines 10-15 feet off the road to create bridle paths. It is not uncommon at all for us to drive on the roads with amish buggies or see people on roads (or crossing roads) on horses. Some people know how to drive around horses...such as slow down but keep moving unless you see the horse and rider having issues. But because of the bridle paths...most people try to stay off the roads other than the dirt country roads with their horses. As I said...I'm probably more concerned with not being able to see road debris, like bottles, than cars. And yes, if you horse slips or spokes and gets loose....the increased danger of the horse having a collision with a car. I've known a few people to lose horses like that...and even worse would be to kill someone in a car.
                            ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **


                            • #34
                              A couple of the girls at my barn were riding down the road just after dusk. They had some reflective gear on, and I didn't see them at all when I was driving by-until I saw the flashing battery powered glowstick one had attached to her saddle. I vote do it, but use light up things more than reflective things- made a huge difference!
                              ~Former Pet Store Manager (10yrs)
                              ~Vintage Toy Dealer (rememberswhen.us)
                              ~Vet Tech Student
                              Mom to : 2 Horses, 4 Dogs, 2 Cats


                              • #35
                                You know yourself, your horse, and your roads. And you seem like all of this is fine. But I have done it quite a bit, and I just want to reiterate that there are people driving around who know absolutely nothing about horses and see no reason to be cautious or give you 1/10 of an inch. I have often thought that even if I knew nothing about horses, I would still have enough common sense to be cautious when driving a vehicle past a horse and rider. But there are LOTS of drivers who you are going to have to watch for. You can't afford to take your attention away from a single passing vehicle.

                                Like I said before, I have done it a lot, but it was difficult to enjoy riding, not to mention get anything accomplished (except to relax my horse), under such circumstances.


                                • #36
                                  I do a LOT of road riding on the same realtively safe roads I have been riding since I was 7 years old and it still makes me a little nervous. Besides all the good advice you've gotten, here is one other thing I do:

                                  I hate having the vehicle come up behind me as they do when you are riding with traffic per code. And, people do not always see a horse ahead. If I am feeling uncomfortable about one coming up behind me and the car is still a safe distance away (I have visibility for at least half a mile), I will cross the road to the other side and head back towards the oncoming car.

                                  This does three things to improve safety.
                                  #1. it gives me one lane buffer
                                  #2. it alerts the driver that there is a horse ahead and reminds them the horse may move in unpredictable way. Perhaps most important if lighting is poor. A horse broadside moving right to left is more visible than the butt of a horse moving away from you.
                                  #3. The horse and I can now SEE what the car is going to do.

                                  Then after the car has passed, I cross back over and continue on my way.
                                  Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans


                                  • #37
                                    One of my biggest nightmares is a car approaching from behind (when riding with traffic) and spooking the horse ONTO the road.

                                    Because of that, the few times I've ridden on or by a road, I do so against traffic whether that is against the law or not. I want both I and the horse to see what is coming on our side, not be blindsided.


                                    • #38
                                      Originally posted by caballero View Post
                                      Because of that, the few times I've ridden on or by a road, I do so against traffic whether that is against the law or not. I want both I and the horse to see what is coming on our side, not be blindsided.
                                      I understand that the law originates because of horse drawn vehicles and the idea that a ridden horse is "traffic" but I agree that facing oncoming traffic, as you do when on foot, is safer. You can look the driver in the eye.

                                      I ride on whichever shoulder is wider and offers more escape routes. The area I ride in gives me visibility of at least a half mile, and more warning than that for noisey vehicles. If something questionable is on it's way (i.e. motorcycle, large truck, farm equipment or noisey or speeding vehicle), I go stand in a field or driveway until it is out of the area.
                                      Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans


                                      • #39
                                        Originally posted by Heinz 57 View Post
                                        Horse is dog broke, gun broke, car broke, weather broke...
                                        Don't assume he will be equally confident at dawn & dusk.

                                        Note that while horses do see better in dim lighting than humans, they also adjust much less quickly to changing lighting, so when car headlights approach/recede, you may want to remain stopped for some time (there are numbers available somewhere, maybe ask your vet to dig them up).

                                        Road riding is pretty common (in daylight) - it's how riders get down to the lake & old railroad trails - there are still instances of idiot drivers: one actually stopped to swear at 10yr old riders, then came back & swerved (yelling obsenities) at those riders: kids got pretty scared & got home as quickly as possible, but didn't think to use their cell phones to call the police or write down the car plate number.


                                        • #40
                                          A couple of things:

                                          DO NOT PUT FLASHING LIGHTS ON YOUR HORSE. Horses have excellent low light vision, but it is impaired by the presence of beams of light, especially flashing ones. It's like asking you to see in the dark when someone is shining a flashlight in your face. For visibility, stick with highly reflective material. Small lights which don't project a beam are ok. Just be aware the more light you project (especially flashing!) the less your horse can assess conditions himself.

                                          Imagine all the absolute worst case scenarios in your head and think how you would respond and if the risk is worth it to you. This allows you to calculate risk less emotionally. I used to road ride (shoulder ride) in the Oregon countryside, but never past early dusk. My horse was hot but very broke to "weird human nonsense" and, um, decorative pet foul. The worst was when I got "buzzed" by a local kid. Making the horse spook is good entertainment, I guess. My horse was good about it (not very entertaining) but that could have easily resulted in 3 deaths. I do know of someone whose foot got smashed in a similar situation.

                                          Live your life, but do it with your eyes open
                                          An auto-save saved my post.

                                          I might be a cylon