Powys had the greatest number of road incidents involving horses in Wales over the last two years according to new figures from the British Horse Society.

The latest statistics, published as part of a new plea to drivers to humanise horse riders, show the number of incidents reported to the charity in each area of Wales in both 2020 and 2021.

Powys roads saw 34 incidents involving horses in 2021 - it was closely followed by Carmarthenshire with 32 incidents and Pembrokeshire with 25 incidents.

There were 17 incidents in rural Powys in 2020. Carmarthenshire was again the second worst county in Wales for incidents involving horses with ten incidents.

The British Horse Society (BHS) reported that there was a total of 237 incidents in total across Wales last year, with one horse fatality reported to the charity in Mid Glamorgan.

A spokesperson for the equine charity said the statistics show a 234 per cent increase compared to the previous year.

Wales isn’t alone as road incidents involving horses and vehicles continue to rise across the UK - 2,943 incidents were reported across Britain to the British Horse Society in 2021.

BHS said that of the cases reported across the UK, 85 per cent of them occurred due to passing vehicles driving too close to the involved horses.

As part of its ‘Look Out for Laura’ campaign, BHS has released a handful of videos encouraging riders to safely pass horses on the road, including one educational video on how to pass a horse safely.

Two of the videos tell the story of two emergency service workers who rely on horse riding to de-stress in their spare times - both thank drivers who pass them safely and encourage motorists to think about how they look at and treat horse riders.

The new campaign from BHS has been informed by research undertaken by Nottingham Trent University in collaboration with the charity as well as Cycling UK.

The research also received funding from the Road Safety Trust which is dedicated to achieving zero deaths and serious injuries on roads in the UK.

National Statistics for 2021
National Statistics for 2021 (BHS)

According to BHS, the research showed that drivers who have a greater awareness of a rider’s personal story have significantly improved how they would pass riders on the road, giving a greater passing distance and slowing down their speed.

The BHS spokesperson said that a “change in attitude is more important than ever” as more than 500 horses are reported to have been killed on the roads since 2010.

The charity is urging more drivers to think about how they look at horse riders when they are out on the road and to adhere to its Dead Slow campaign messages.

Dead slow was launched to educate drivers on how to safely pass horses on the road. In line with the new Highway Code changes, the campaign consists of four key behavioural change messages to drivers when they see a horse:

  1. Slow down to a maximum of 10mph
  2. Be patient – I won’t sound my horn or rev my engine
  3. Pass the horse wide and slow, (if safe to do so) at least a car’s width if possible
  4. Drive slowly away

Alan Hiscox, Director of Safety at The British Horse Society said: “The number of incidents involving horses on Britain’s roads remain far too high. It is, therefore, vital that we continue to urge drivers to be more considerate when passing horses and aware of how to do this safely.

“Riding helps people from all backgrounds and walks of life, particularly when it comes to relieving stressful and difficult situations. We need to push awareness of this, and believe the ‘Look Out for Laura’ campaign offers a powerful message that will encourage drivers to think about the riders around them and help to reduce the significant number of horses being killed on Britain’s roads.”

Researchers at Nottingham Trent University were tasked with evaluating the impact of the videos on drivers’ attitudes. Professor Crundall a Professor of Psychology at Nottingham Trent University reported: “Our analyses have demonstrated that these videos improve both drivers’ attitudes towards horses, and their future intended passing behaviours, when compared to a control group.”

The BHS encourages all riders to report their incidents to the charity, at horseincidents.org.uk or through its app Horse i.

The charity spokesperson said: “The more incidents that are reported, the more the BHS can do to protect the rights of horse riders on Britain’s roads.”