New research has confirmed what riders have been arguing for some time – that self-closing gates are more dangerous to horses than those that are shut manually.
The British Horse Society (BHS) conducted a trial after receiving 47 reports in the past year from riders, saying either themselves or their horses have been injured by the devices.
“In recent years, self-closing bridle gates have become popular with landowners, who are understandably worried about livestock escaping,” said a BHS spokesman.
“But we have become increasingly concerned about the number of accidents caused.”
Riders say gates can snap shut on them “like giant mousetraps” and are “impossible to open in windy conditions”.
Twenty-six riders, with equines from 33in in height to 17hh, tested a series of gates. The trial found that self-closing bridle gates are neither as safe nor as easy for riders as standard gates.
“There have been some terrible injuries and this trial demonstrates that they should not be used routinely on public rights of way or other land with statutory equestrian access,” added Heather Clatworthy of the BHS.
Natural England, Defra, Centrewire, British Standards and local authorities are working with the BHS to improve the safety of self-closing gates for the benefit of riders.
Have you experienced problems with self-closing gates? Write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (23 August 2012)