The most important thing to remember when you are riding your horse on a road or pathway next to a road, is that most people haven’t ridden a horse and therefore have no clue that most horses can be spooked very easily. Make sure that you are confident that you can handle your horse should he react to say, a dog running out of a gate towards him or someone using their horn behind him. If you are unsure of your riding skills, then don’t take your horse out onto the road.
It is vital that both you are your horse are highly visible in all light and weather conditions, so that other road users see you way before they reach you. As a rider, you should always wear a reflective safety vest so that drivers can pick you up in their headlights.You should also ensure that your horse is wearing some sort of reflective gear such as a hindquarter rug, leg bands, tail guard or bridle straps. A reflective hindquarter rug and bridle straps are always considered a good combination.
Obviously, item number one is a good riding hat which conforms to safety regulations. Go to a reputable shop and ask them to assist you in choosing a good, well fitting hat. Make sure you always have it securely fastened. Jodhpurs are especially designed for horse riding and should therefore be purchased. Denim jeans and other pants will tend to give you blisters or sore patches, as the seams will rub against your leg as they rest on the horse. Riding boots are another important item. You need sturdy boots with a small heel which will fit nicely in the stirrups.
RIDING ON THE ROAD
It is generally best not to ride your horse on a road surface such as concrete or asphalt, as it tends to be a slippery surface for shod horses. A dirt track or gravel road is much safer for all concerned. Your horse must have a bit when riding on the road. It is highly dangerous to ride with just a halter or a bitless bridle when riding on the road as you need to be able to control your horse in an emergency. Remember that your horse is considered a vehicle, so you should ride in the same direction as the traffic.
Riding single file is definitely safer and never put more than one rider on a horse. Avoid riding in the dark. As you are riding on the road, you must obey all the traffic laws. You cannot drink and ride! Cell phone usage is not sensible and is against the law in many countries. Listening to music on your headphones or earphones will distract you from fully concentrating on the road and the surrounding area, so leave them at home and enjoy the natural sounds around you. Indicate your intentions to other road users well in advance, so they have time to manoeuvre around you. Learn appropriate hand signals and remain courteous to other road users, thanking them for their patience. If for any reason your horse is spooked or doesn’t want to walk forward, then dismount and lead him until you feel he is able to continue comfortably.