©2014 Horses & Road Safety Awareness
Driving a horse is a great way to exercise it without needing to ride. It is perfect for the smaller equine, larger ones and donkeys too.
Many people will train a horse to drive to give it strength in the hind quarters and also to teach it to work confidently without needing
the comfort of a human near by.
Training is the key
Just as with riding a horse must be adequately trained to pull a cart. Carts are large, physically restrictive and noisy to a horse, so
desensitising is a big priority (this goes for riding horses too) If you have never trained a horse before please consult a professional
before attempting this at home.
Always wear personal protective equipment inc hiviz for road/field work and ensure you are well out of the “kick rage” of a
Many driving horses start out by lunging and long lining. There are many books available on how to lunge and long line,
choose one you think you will be able to follow best. Always wear protection and ensure you are well out of the “kick rage” of a
Have someone at the head of the horse to take control should the horse panic.
Teach your horse using voice commands to lessen the need for whips and line shaking.
When the horse is very consistent in long lining add blinkers if they are not already being used. When the horse is used to
these, start on the roads. Again always have someone at the head should the horse panic.
If you have a cart already, bring it out every time the horse is being worked to get it used to the sight of it, and how it moves. Walk the horse along beside the cart, behind
the cart and let the cart be pulled behind the horse at a safe distance.
You can let the horse pull logs and tyres behind it on ropes to get used to the feeling of a weight but not all horses need this step.
If the horse is fine with all this, hitch up and walk the horse a little with the cart. Sometimes it is best to just get in and let a leader walk beside the horses head to soothe
it if needed.
Road and horse driving etiquette
Try to ensure you know your horse is used to carts if you know you will encounter them.
Treat the carriage as a vehicle and ensure your horse does not get too close to the wheels.
Remember the horse in front can not see behind it with the blinkers.
Do not canter towards or past the carriage without letting the driver know you are there and plan to pass. Be prepared to stop if asked.
Remember that it takes longer to stop a horse with a carriage, and more space to turn. Give time and consideration.
Ensure your horse is suitably trained to be in the conditions you plan to drive.
Be mindful of riders and do not rush past them. Slow to a walk and ask if it is okay for you to pass. If the horse becomes distressed, stop and let it go past you. You are
essentially a vehicle and should act how you expect a vehicle would.
Do no canter on the roads.
Use the correct hand signals and follow the laws of the road
Carriages and the law
As per the highway code:
British Driving Society - http://www.britishdrivingsociety.co.uk/
HorseSolicitor - http://www.horsesolicitor.co.uk/
“Horse-drawn vehicles used on the highway should be operated and maintained in accordance with standards set out in the Department for Transport’s Code of
Practice for Horse-Drawn Vehicles. This Code lays down the requirements for a road driving assessment and includes a comprehensive list of safety checks to ensure
that a carriage and its fittings are safe and in good working order. The standards set out in the Road Driving Assessment may be required to be met by a Local Authority
if an operator wishes to obtain a local authority licence to operate a passenger-carrying service.
All horse-drawn vehicles should have two red rear reflectors. It is safer not to drive at night but if you do, a light showing white to the front and red to the rear MUST be
fitted. Law RVLR 1989 reg 4”