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horses and riders wearing high visibility clothing

horse riders wearing high visibility clothing from the rear

Horses and Riders

Devon is a rural county with numerous equestrian activities along its network of country lanes. Many owners rely on their horses and stables to provide their livelihood and each year they make considerable contributions to Devon’s rural economy.

Horses also provide a sustainable means of transport which generate minimal pollution and give a good quality of life and health for those who ride. However, we recognise that it is not enough to encourage people to travel in this way without trying to make the environment safer. The challenge is even greater as a result of increasing population and high dependency on the car for those who travel longer distances in rural areas.

What Devon County Council is doing to help

  • When working on new speed reduction schemes we consult with residents and road users about the best ways to optimise the safety and well being of our more vulnerable road users - horse riders, pedestrians and cyclists.
  • We are committed to reducing the number of casualties on Devon’s roads and in conjunction with local council representatives, listen to people who have real concerns about road safety issues in their community. We then work with other agencies (e.g. the Police) to consider ways in which these concerns may be reduced.
  • An example of this type of partnership working is outlined in the Higher Hulham Road Safety Working Group Case Study image - PDF icon (389KB - pdf help).

Summary of the Higher Hulham Road Project:

The Project

  • An analytical and problem solving exercise to help to improve the safety and quality of life of horse riders, residents and cyclists in Higher Hulham Road, Exmouth.  

Who was involved?

  • Representatives of local residents, horse riders and cyclists
  • Devon County Council – Eastern Road Safety Officer, Area Highway Management Office and Political representatives
  • Lympstone Parish Council
  • Devon and Cornwall Constabulary

Why was this project initiated?

  • Following a visit by the Safer Travel Officer and initial discussion with about 15 horse riders about their individual concerns and sense of danger locally, it was agreed that the “Higher Hulham Road Safety Working Group” should be formed. This would be led by the Safer Travel Officer and result in the production of a document providing evidence from a variety of sources in a systematic way which would be issued to Devon County Council’s decision makers for consideration.
  • Representatives from Horse Riders, Residents and Cyclists would be invited to join.

Content of Document

The document should include :-

  • results of a consultation process with horse riders, residents and cyclists who use Higher Hulham Road
  • details of diary entries made by horse riders each time they felt at risk on the road.
  • details of speed check information collated by the Police in this area
  • data relating to road casualty incidents over the past 5 years
  • a realistic and achievable action plan

The outcomes

  • Based on the document of evidence presented to decision makers at Devon County Council, Lympstone Parish Council and Devon and Cornwall Constabulary, a reduction in speed limit from 40 mph. to 30 mph. has been agreed from King’s Garden Centre towards Dinan Way, Exmouth.
  • The speed limit will be supported by a vehicle activated sign near the Garden Centre to warn drivers travelling south, that they must slow down near the bend and horse crossing point.
  • Some of the solutions highlighted by residents in the consultation are not achievable currently, but the situation will continue to be monitored by the Higher Hulham Road Safety Group.

How you can help


  • THINK!  Speed of vehicles is one of the biggest safety concerns of all road users and contributes towards a high percentage of crashes in Devon. If you hit someone at 40 mph, chances are that person will die.
  • Always drive at an appropriate, lower speed, particularly when approaching bends which could obscure the presence of horses, walkers, cyclists or slow moving farm machinery.
  • Give horse riders consideration and courtesy, passing them wide and slow when the road is clear and never use the horn as horses may become nervous and unpredictable.
  • NOTE: The Highway Code permits horse riders to travel two abreast to aid their safety when escorting young or inexperienced horse riders.

Horse Riders

  • Try not to use busy roads when exercising horses, unless you have no alternative quieter or “off road” route
  • Give drivers consideration and courtesy, anticipating that many drivers do not ride and may not understand a horse rider’s perspective on road use
  • Always take the British Horse Society’s road proficiency test before using roads and make sure that you (and your horse if possible) wear items which are fluorescent, reflective and easily seen by drivers.
  • Never ride more than two abreast on roads - and ride in single file where the road narrows or near bends.

The Highway Code provides comprehensive guidance for horse riders and drivers on what steps they should take to maximise their safety. An information leaflet and poster can be downloaded from the government’s Think! website and you can find the Highway Code online.

By arrangement, novice riders may use the Devon Drivers’ Centre’s tarmac circuit for training. The centre is based at Westpoint, Clyst St. Mary, near Exeter. Telephone (01392) 444773 or email them for more information.

The British Horse Society

The British Horse Society promotes on going improvement in horse and rider safety and campaigns for safer conditions for riders on Britain's roads. For more in-depth information and their advice for horse riders and drivers who share roads you can visit their website. This gives details of their Riding and Road Safety test and contact details for all their road safety trainers in the UK.