Holywell has hosted a joint road safety initiative which raised awareness of the recent amendments to the highway code about passing horses.

Operation Safe Pass, which was organised by North Wales Police in partnership with North Wales Horse Watch and the British Horse Society, took place at Bridlewood Riding Centre in Holywell.

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Officers from the Rural Crime Team, Roads Policing Unit and Community Safety accompanied horse riders out on the roads, while stopping road users to issue guidance and raise awareness of how to safely pass horses.

Last year alone 237 road incidents involving horses and vehicles in Wales were reported to the British Horse Society, including one horse fatality.

The amendments that were made to the highway code earlier this year include advice to drivers to:

  • Pass horses at no more than 10mph
  • Keep a minimum of a two meters distance

Helen Lacey, police service volunteer and coordinator for the charity North Wales Horse Watch, said: “Equestrians are now classed equal to cyclists in the new hierarchy of road users, which is designed to protect the most vulnerable.

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“The new changes will improve safety for horses and their handlers, which include horses being led, carriage driven, and ridden in traffic.

“This event was a great way to raise awareness of the new changes, and hopefully played a part in making equestrians safer on the roads.”

Chris James of the Rural Crime Team said: “The day was a real success, engaging with motorists, offering advice, and raising awareness around the recent amendments to the highway code.

“If you see a horse on the road, our advice is to slow down to a maximum of 10mph, be patient and pass the horse wide and slow, with at least a two-metre gap, before driving slowly away.

“Driving carefully, particularly around bends on narrow roads, will help you spot horses and riders in time and react safely.

“However, staying safe on the road applies to every single one of us, whether we are travelling on four wheels or on four legs.”

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Alan Hiscox, director of safety at The British Horse Society said: “It is great to that North Wales Police and The British Horse Society (BHS) can work in partnership on the Operation Safe Pass event.

“These joint initiatives are vital in raising awareness on how to safely pass horses on the road, especially with the recent Highway Code changes.

“Last year alone, 237 road incidents involving horses and vehicles in Wales were reported to the BHS, including one horse fatality.

“To reduce these figures, we are educating motorists about what they should do when they encounter horses on the road with our ‘Dead Slow’ campaign.

“Recognising that there are three brains working when a car meets a ridden horse, we’re urging all road users to show each other patience and courtesy in order to save the lives of riders, horses and drivers.”

More information on the changes to the highway code can be found here.