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Letter to Bunwell Road Users

Dear Road Users,
You may have seen me in recent weeks walking my young horse up Bunwell Street and around our lanes, trying to get her used to everything she is likely to encounter on our roads – a process that will take many months, probably years.  I try to be as conspicuous as I can – I wear a hi-vis jacket with “Caution – Young Horse” on the back, and on all but the hottest, sunniest days, she wears a hi-vis rug.  I get off the road onto the verge when it isn’t wide enough for a vehicle to pass safely, and I thank drivers for slowing down for us. 

 

The vast majority of drivers are understanding and considerate, and slow down and pass wide, and I am very grateful for that – gratitude that I show whenever possible.  However today we were on our way home on Bunwell Street after a very wet and rainy walk out, when a car approached from ahead travelling at around 30mph.  My horse spooked slightly at a gurgling road drain to her left, and moved her backend towards the middle of the road as the car got nearer.  As he didn’t seem to be easing up, I asked the driver to slow down by holding my right arm out and low – I didn’t have the time to move it up and down as is the proper signal, as he was upon us so quickly.  The driver appeared to think I was thanking him, as he put his hand up to me (which makes me believe there was no malicious intention for his failure to slow down, just a lack of understanding) - just as the car splashed through a massive puddle, making the associated noise, and the horse spooked again.  Quite how the car missed her back end I don’t know!  I don’t know if he realised it, but that driver was just a couple of inches away from breaking my baby horse’s leg (an injury that’s only outcome would be her euthanasia) and seriously damaging his car.  I do my best to prevent my horse from “spooking” into the road, but if something scares her it is her instinct (as much as it’s an instinct for you and I to pull our hand away from something hot) to get away from it as quickly as possible, without stopping to think, and there’s very little that I can do to stop her.  Often, the fastest way for a horse to get away from something it views as a threat is to go sideways – into the road.  The reason for me taking her on the road at this young age is to train, educate and socialise her in an effort to minimise this reaction, to reduce the likelihood of her being a nuisance to other road users when she is an adult horse being ridden on the public highway (although no horse can ever be completely 100% certain never to spook). I know that people are often in a hurry and don’t feel they have the time to slow down, or maybe don’t realise the speed at which any horse can move in any direction, but please - for the sake of my horse and your vehicle - ease up a bit and allow plenty of space for an emergency sideways manoeuvre!
With thanks, Kate Bunn