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A Lancashire council has told local riders petitioning against dangerous slippery roads that their horses must wear “suitable” shoes.

But Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council is refusing to clarify what it means by “appropriate shoeing”, a phrase that North Bolton and Darwen Bridleway Group says is a “complete fob-off”.

In April, a rider was badly injured when his horse slipped on a road, prompting a council inquiry (news, 24 April).

And on 14 August, the group delivered a petition to the council saying riders’ horses were slipping on two other roads in the borough.

Alan Cottam, of the council’s executive board, told H&H that one of the roads was to be resurfaced but the other wasn’t.

He said: “I also want to remind horse owners of their responsibility in making sure horses have appropriate shoeing when they are ridden on tarmac roads.”

Nicola Spencer of the group said: “They’re trying to put the onus back on the horse owners and the type of horseshoes we use. We got a complete fob-off.”

Group member Janet Grant said a horse belonging to her 23-year-old daughter, Sara Morrison, had fallen on Broadhead Road — which will not be resurfaced.

She said: “That road is the worst. It is slippery, is on a blind bend and the steep camber makes it worse. My daughter’s horse went down, saved itself, then went down again. It’s very dangerous.”

She told H&H their horses’ shoes were in good condition: “They all have road studs and the blacksmith does them every six weeks without fail.”

The council said the road surface is bituminous rather than the notoriously treacherous stone mastic asphalt (SMA) surface that has also come under criticism from horse riders in the borough.

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (11 September, ’08)