Rider hopes exercise sheet with built-in indicators will improve horse road safety

  • The designer of an exercise sheet with built-in indicators and hazard lights hopes to bring it to market, and so help keep horses and riders safer on the road.

    Lauren Fitzsimmons, who has just finished a degree in product design at the University of Brighton, came up with the concept of the RoadRug as her final-year project.

    She told H&H that as a lifelong equestrian, horse and rider road safety is a topic close to her heart.

    “I did a lot of research, and interviewed the chair of the British Horse Society in Northern Ireland, to get her ideas on riding on the road, and that’s when I realised we need more communication between riders and drivers,” she said.

    “So I tried to work on ideas to improve communication between them, in a safer manner.”

    Lauren said that the rug, of which she has made a prototype, allows riders to signal without taking a hand off the reins, which could improve safety, and also gives signals drivers are more used to seeing and understanding.

    The indicators work thanks to buttons on the reins, a microchip and a wireless connection to the LEDs themselves — the aim is to have these at the same brightness as car indicators — and the hazard warning triangle for slowing down.

    “I’d like to get it to market; this summer will be the time to get the ball rolling on manufacturing,” she said.

    Continues below…

    British Horse Society director of safety Alan Hiscox told H&H: “It’s fantastic to see a student looking for a creative solution that could benefit horse riders whilst riding out on the road.

    “Anything that increases the visibility and conspicuity of riders and horses is a good thing, but it would need to meet the agreed safety standards. The report we commissioned by the Transport Research Laboratory provided a review of relevant theory and evidence relating to the impact that interventions such as high-visibility clothing and lighting may have on road safety for horses and their riders.

    “We would also recommend that riders remain vigilant to their surroundings; even when using innovative products, you need to be aware of where vehicles are.”

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