Council puts equestrianism to the forefront as it pledges to ‘seize opportunities’ for riders and carriage drivers

  • A county council has launched an equine-specific consultation as it embarks on a new “equestrian strategy” for the area and pledges to “seize opportunities” for riders and carriage drivers.

    Following the rollout of Carmarthenshire County Council’s Rights of Way Improvement Plan (ROWIP) published in 2019, the council has now launched a survey as it seeks to gain views on issues affecting equestrians. The questions include what activities owners do with their horses, what would encourage them to ride/drive more often, what hazards they face while riding/driving, and how far they have to travel to access safe, off-road routes.

    A spokesman for the council said the authority has made a commitment within the plan to develop an equestrian strategy for the county.

    “The first phase of this process is now under way,” said the spokesman. “In order to inform and shape the strategy we are looking for your views on the current equestrian provision in the county.

    We want to collect the views of equestrians and non-equestrians. We would like to know about your interests and experiences, what you enjoy, the opportunities you see and the barriers you face.”

    The spokesman added that the information collected will help the council “build a picture” of equestrian demands and needs in Carmarthenshire and “seize opportunities” for equestrian development according to those needs.

    “Data from questionnaires will be analysed to provide a picture of where equestrian access is satisfactory and where need exceeds provision,” he said.

    “It will be used to identify the geography of equestrianism in the county, what benefits it brings to the county, where opportunities for enhancing provision might exist and whether existing resources are adequate to serve the needs of equestrians.”

    The survey closes on 25 July and it is proposed a draft strategy will be produced by autumn. Take the survey here.

    The council has also recently installed British Horse Society (BHS) “dead slow” road signs at 10 “hot spots” across the county. The signs have been temporarily installed for summer, at locations based on BHS incident reports.

    Councillor Hazel Evans, executive board member for the environment, said she was “delighted” the council is working with the BHS on the initiative.

    “As a rural county, it is important that drivers are aware that there are likely to be horses on the road and that they treat them with respect by not driving too fast and giving them plenty of space,” she said.

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    “These signs have been put up in locations which have been identified as challenging by riders, following incidents reported to the BHS website. This is an issue throughout Wales, not just in Carmarthenshire, and it would be great to see other councils join this initiative.”

    BHS director of safety Alan Hiscox said the society has worked with many local authorities to place similar signs, and the reduction in incidents reported in the areas has been “staggering”.

    “If drivers follow the key messages of slowing down to a maximum of 15mph, being patient, passing the horse wide and slow and driving slowly away, which is detailed on the signs, the roads in Carmarthenshire will become safer for both horse and drivers,” he said.

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