BHS advice to horse riders and gritter drivers

The British Horse Society has issued advice to both horse riders and drivers of gritters in the current icy spell.

It has warned: “Whilst encounters between horses and gritting lorries are fairly infrequent, the nature of these vehicles with flashing lights and the noise from the spreading equipment is not familiar to most horses.

There are areas where horses run loose on moorlands and find their way to roads during snowfalls.

Watch out for riderless horses in moorland areas running along roads in snowy conditions. Photo courtesy of Reuters


The BHS said: “This may cause the horse to react in a way that could be challenging to the rider. ”

It has advised gritter drivers of what to do should they meet horses, saying:

  • Stop, turn off the gritter and lights, and allow the rider to find a safer place where the horse is less likely to react to the lorry, so that you can continue without startling the horse.
  • When the horse is settled and is in a safe position, continue past the horse at a slow speed – no more than 15 mph – (ideally without flashing lights).
  • Once you have passed the horse/rider and can see that they are settled, drive slowly away and reinstate your flashing lights.
  • Remember – it may take a few moments but if there is an accident requiring emergency services or vet you will be delayed even longer. See the below instructions to riders.

To riders it has advised:

  • Familiarise yourself with the gritting status of roads you use regularly and sign up to any notification service provided by your Highways Authority – this will allow you to lower the risk of meeting gritter lorries.
  • Gritter lorries cannot miss sections of road in the salt distribution as to do so risks dangerous ice.  Except on wide roads, the salt is sprayed over both lanes but not beyond the kerb.  So you should move off the main carriageway and as far away from the gritting area, as possible.
  • If your horse is likely to be challenged by being passed or overtaken by a gritter lorry, you should be familiar with these instructions given to the drivers. (See above)
  • If you see that a gritter lorry is behind you, look for somewhere safe to step off the main carriageway.  Turn your horses head so that they can see the source of the noise/flashing lights.
  • Once you have done so, signal to the driver that your horse is settled; they should then pass you slowly.
  • The BHS always recommends wearing appropriate Hi-Viz clothing when riding out, this enables you to increase your conspicuity and visibility to all drivers. See theTransport Research Laboratory Report – Conspicuity of Horses and Riders on Roads.
  • If you have an incident with a gritter lorry that causes you concern please report it to the BHS Incident Website


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