Country Road Courtesy

It’s important to be respectful of equestrians along the roadway for everyone’s safety.

IMG_3041When I lived in Texas, one of the things I missed the most about home was the peace and quiet of the country. I wasn’t used to hearing cars driving past my window late at night or sirens blaring across town.

At home, I can sleep with my windows wide open and listen to the tranquil sounds of crickets chirping, frogs croaking and the distant call of coyotes.

The country also makes for a peaceful atmosphere to ride my horses. The gravel road that runs by our house sees maybe 20 cars in an entire day. My favorite time to head out and ride is right away in the morning when the air is cool and the grass is still damp from dew. There’s one driver in particular who passes me nearly every morning. I figure he’s on his way to work, but he always slows down and waves.

I’m thankful for drivers like this who are respectful of sharing the roadway with equestrians. Unfortunately, I can’t give this credit to every driver who passes me. I have two main points of contention with gravel road drivers.

First of all, we’re not on pavement. Gravel roads are dusty, and cars that drive at a fast clip leave a heavy cloud diffusing into the air behind them.

When I’m riding my horse, I do not enjoy eating a mouthful of dust. It gets in your eyes, ears and throat, and leaves you sputtering for a breath of fresh air. Perhaps some drivers are completely unaware of the gravel they’re kicking up behind them, or maybe they don’t care. Regardless of whether a pedestrian is riding a horse or walking a dog, it’s uncomfortable to get blown away by dust, so please keep that in mind.

Secondly, horses are horses, and it’s important for all drivers to be aware of their unpredictability.

When I ride my horses down the road, I often see the same drivers multiple times because they either live or work nearby. Some are consistently polite about slowing down and moving to the opposite side of the road. But many people blow right past, and I’m not sure if it’s a lack of knowledge about horses, or maybe they figure that a horse riding along a road must be safe around cars.

I always make sure to ride close to the edge where the gravel meets the grassy ditch. Our horses are traffic safe, so I rarely get nervous when a car passes. But what happens when a deer is spooked out of the woods and startles my horse? What happens when a piece of gravel kicked up by your vehicle nails my horse in the butt? What happens if my horse is having an off day and I get bucked off?

If you google images of horses hit by cars I can tell you one thing: there probably weren’t many survivors.

It all comes down to respect. You don’t own the road and I don’t own the road. We share the road. So please slow down to make it a safer environment for both of us.