Through raising awareness about the nature of horses and how to prepare both horse and rider for riding on the roads, we can make informed decisions that will contribute to the safety of all road users.
The following information is an overview of the knowledge required to be as safe as possible when riding or leading a horse on the roads. More information can be found in the Horse SA printed document ‘Horse safety on the roads in Australia’ or download here.
For non-riders that may travel on roads, pathways or trails and need to share the space with horses you can share this one page guide of how share the space as safely as possible.
Horses, under the Australian Road Rules, are considered a vehicle. An overview of rules for horse riders can be found on the Transport SA webpage Rules for Horse Riders on Roads. All horse riders and handlers need to be familiar with the Australian Road Rules specific to their local area.
Local councils may have by-laws which outline what can and cannot take place on community land. By-laws may prohibit certain activities or state that permission or a permit is required.
Community events held on the roads
A large group of horse riders planning to use a road for a street parade, historical re-enactments or other community activity may be required by law to notify the local council and police.
Using hand signals lets other road users know what your intentions are but are not a guarantee of safety. Sun glare, for example, may mean that other road users do not see your signals, or do not see you and your horse at all. Hand signals can be found in the Horse SA printed document ‘Horse safety on the roads in Australia’.
Riding on the roads skills checklists:
This checklist may assist in planning rider practice sessions, ideally held in an enclosed area.
Hand signal to turn left, right, stop and slow down
Turn left, right and halt and stand (you need to be able to do this holding the reins in one hand)
Ride past hazards you are likely to encounter, e.g. rubbish bin, dog, pram
Ride over different ground surfaces similar to what you may encounter
Negotiate trail obstacles you are likely to encounter e.g. step-overs, gates
Ride in pairs or as a group (if required for your situation)
Halt and stand as though you are checking for traffic
An emergency dismount from both sides of the horse
Leading your horse from both sides
Attending an incident such as a fallen rider, e.g. check for hazards, dismounting, holding other horses, calling for emergency services, first aid.
Relaxed, comfortable with Personal Protective Equipment and Hi-Viz horse and rider equipment
Remains relaxed while the rider mounts and dismounts, and practices hand signals
Parks (stands still) in quiet spaces or alongside roads
Obedient with frequent transitions between halt, walk and trot, including in pairs or a group
Obedient when walking around hazards such as parked cars or past new objects
Obedient when ridden across a range of surface types and colours, e.g. light, smooth cement or darker road surface with white markings or water running in street gutters
Obedient when ridden past a variety of road-related infrastructure, e.g. signage, road works
Obedient when negotiating a range of road and trail obstacles common to your local area