In horse vs. vehicle showdowns on the road, the vehicle most frequently wins. For this reason, "near misses" by cars when riding on roads can be terrifying for riders, particularly in the United Kingdom, where equestrians commonly ride along narrow roadways.

To help improve horse and rider safety on U.K. roadways, Rose Scofield, a masters student at Duchy College in Cornwall, recently studied reflective riding equipment’s efficacy in preventing traffic incidents. She presented her results at the 9th Annual International Society for Equitation Science, held July 18-20 at the University of Delaware, in Newark.

Available rider safety equipment varies and includes fluorescent or reflective (FR) tabards, jackets, vests, boot lights, hat covers/bands, and gloves. Horse equipment includes FR sheets, breast plates, boots, bridle accessories, saddle cloths, and saddle accessories.

As part of Scofield’s study, she distributed a questionnaire through U.K. equine websites and forums to 426 riders that ride on road systems. She divided respondents into two groups based on whether they had experienced near misses on the road in the previous year (60.3%) or not. She then asked both groups what FR equipment they wore while riding.

After analyzing the responses she determined that:

  • Riders most frequently wore FR tabards when riding on the road;
  • There was no significant relationship between wearing FR tabards and near-miss incidence;
  • There was no significant relationship between horses wearing FR equipment and near-miss incidence; and
  • There were significantly fewer near-miss incidences