Saddle up to protect 78,000 kilometres of off-road routes

a grey horse being ridden

The British Horse Society is urging riders to saddle up to protect over 78,000 miles of off-road riding in a ‘use it or lose it’ campaign to raise money to ensure routes are available in the future.

The initiative encourages riders to undertake a distance of 25km or more over the month of July and gain sponsorship for its completion. The challenge has four goals, and riders can choose which they prefer: 25km, 50km, 75km and 100+km, and riders can create a Just Giving page associated with the campaign.

Money raised will go towards repairing riding surfaces, the reopening of blocked routes and to repair or replace broken fences and gates. You can join the Rideathon Challenge at the British Horse Society website.

The British Horse Society is instrumental in keeping routes open to riders. Their access and bridleways officers work with members of the public and the BHS HQ Rights of Way team reacting to threats to your access, answering your questions, representing equestrians on a local and national level at relevant meetings affecting access, working to establish new access, and promoting what exists through the BHS National Equestrian Route Network.

Although bridleway maintenance is the responsibility of the landowner or the council, depending on the ownership of the land, the British Horse Society can help if your usual route has been affected by poor management or has been illegally closed off.

For many, hacking without any roadwork is an impossibility, and the British Horse Society are also attempting to make riding on public highways safer with their ‘Dead Slow’ campaign. In 2023, 3,383 accidents involving horses were reported to the BHS, 66 horses died as a result of a road traffic accident and 86 have been injured. Three riders have died and 94 have been injured, and 85% of accidents were caused by vehicles passing too close to a horse, or speeding past.

The BHS campaigned relentlessly to cause change to the Highway Code making it law that traffic may only pass horses at speeds less than 10mph, pass wide and slow and must not sound their horn or rev their engine. Advice for passing feral horses in the New Forest, Dartmoor or similar are also addressed in the new Highway Code.

Katie Gilmour is the host of Poles, Piaffe & Prosecco: the podcast for riders that love to train, laugh and drink prosecco! The podcast is free to listen to on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

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