A rider has shared video footage of the terrifying moment cyclists dangerously undertook her and her horse.
The rider, Jennifer, posted the clip from her hat camera on social media after the incident on Sunday morning (17 June).
She was out hacking, wearing plenty of high-visibility clothing, on the road near Windsor when a small number of cyclists undertook. The road was fully open to all traffic during the race.
Jennifer said one of the cyclists hit her horse’s side, catching her left stirrup and causing the horse to rear and bolt forward. The horse pulled off a hind shoe and Jennifer sustained bruising to her ankle, but the cyclist involved did not stop.
The race organisers, Human Race, and the sport’s governing body, British Triathlon, are investigating.
“We are in contact with the individual affected by the horrible incident earlier today at Windsor Triathlon. We want to sincerely apologise to her and her poor horse,” said a statement from Human Race, adding all competitors are briefed to follow the Highway Code.
“We have convened a senior level committee internally, and along with British Triathlon we will be reviewing the video evidence to identify those involved in this.
“Those at fault will be disqualified and banned from all future Human Race events.”
Jennifer said the incident was “terrifying”, but added the actions of a few individuals do not reflect the majority of cyclists.
“I am lucky to ride such a calm animal but there are other horses that really wouldn’t have tolerated the speed and proximity of those cyclists, risking everyone,” she wrote on social media.
“There are many amazing road users that pass safely (and who should always be thanked by horse riders) but there does seem to be a growing lack of awareness of how to pass horses safely on the road and indeed with other vulnerable road users such as cyclists.
“My horse was on the defence with every cyclist he met from then on after the hit and didn’t calm until we got away from cyclists on that road.
“I strongly hope there are no long-term effects associated with cyclists coming up behind him from now on.”
She added she has had “amazing support” from the cycling and triathlon communities.
“So much so that some have offered to do some desensitisation work with my horse if he has picked up a new fear of cyclists,” said Jennifer.
“I want to pass my deepest and sincerest gratitude and respects to everyone involved in this sporting community for their support and consideration.
“I realise it is a few select individuals and not in any way a reflection of the majority of cyclists out on our roads.
“I am in full support of our want to all get home safely and enjoy our sports peacefully. I hope this doesn’t divide us but makes us stronger in raising awareness of what seems like an ongoing and escalating issue regarding the lack of safety awareness from some individuals when passing vulnerable road users.
“Pass slow and wide should apply to both of us from everyone and anyone out on the road — as is stated in the Highway Code.”
A spokesman for British Triathlon said the governing body is in “full support” of Human Race in investigating the incident and taking appropriate action.
“The actions of the cyclists involved are not just unwelcome in our sport and dangerous, but also contrary to all Highway Code guidance on how to safely overtake a horse,” said the spokesman.
“The horse, rider and cyclists were at unnecessary risk, and it is urged that cyclists remain fully aware of other road users and ride accordingly to maintain safety for themselves and others.”
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Statistics from the British Horse Society’s incident log show there were 19 accidents involving horses and cyclists reported to the charity in 2017 and 15 have already been recorded so far this year.
This incident has been reported to police. H&H has contacted the force for comment.
The British Horse Society advises that cyclists:
Alert the horse and rider to your presence
- The horse and rider may not see or hear you approach from behind, so calling out ‘hello’ as soon as you are within calling distance is important to prevent the horse being startled.
Give the horse and rider time to react
- If a horse is frightened by your presence, please stop, and give the rider a chance to calm the horse and move out of your way before you ride off again. A horse rider may also attempt to move forward into a wider space in order to let you pass – help them to do so by slowing your speed and keeping back a safe distance.
If you are taking part in a cycling event, your concern will be to pass a horse as quickly as possible, but please remember to:
- Slow down and call out
- Pass wide and slow on the outside when safe to do so – do not ride between the horse and the verge
- Leave a car’s width between you and the horse when you pass
Additional informational for cyclists can be found at bhs.org.uk/cycles
For more news on this story and the response by the BHS and Cycling UK, don’t miss this week’s edition of H&H — out Thursday, 21 June.
For all the latest news analysis, competition reports, interviews, features and much more, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, on sale every Thursday