Riding two abreast has its advantages and lots of people do it: it encourages cars to slow down more and you’re less likely to be pushed into a hedge or ditch. It’s also safer if you position a young horse or inexperienced rider on the kerbside away from the traffic.
At the same time, you’re a bigger obstacle for cars to avoid, and because two riders take up a lot of road space, some riders and vexed drivers wonder if it’s even legal.
We would like to assure you that it is legal to ride two abreast on the road.
The Highway Code states that riders should never ride more than two abreast and advises that riders should travel in single file on narrow or busy roads or when riding around bends.
What does the British Horse Society advise for riders?
According to the British Horse Society (BHS): “Riders should look to the Highway Code for guidance on riding safely and the rules of the road. It doesn’t state that riders should travel in single file and the BHS believes that it is ultimately the decision for the rider to make. It may be appropriate to ride two abreast if you are escorting a young or inexperienced horse or rider, so they can be on the inside.
“If this is not the case, it is safer to ride in single file where road conditions and traffic requires you to. It is important that riders are aware of their surroundings and are considerate to other road users.
“The BHS recommends that all riders take the society’s Ride Safe Award. This provides them with the knowledge and skill to ride safely in all environments, including on the road.”
Road Safety Scotland’s manual offers detailed guidance on riding two abreast, specifying: “Horses should be compatible and riders should be capable of riding in pairs and returning to single file quickly without fuss.”
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And how should drivers deal with people riding two abreast?
According to Kitty Mithin from the Department of Transport: “Drivers should be particularly careful of horse riders and horse-drawn vehicles especially when overtaking.
“Always pass wide and slowly. Horse riders are often children, so take extra care and remember riders may ride in double file when escorting a young or inexperienced horse or rider.
“Look out for horse riders’ and horse drivers’ signals and heed a request to slow down or stop. Take great care and treat all horses as a potential hazard; they can be unpredictable, despite the efforts of their rider/driver.”
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