BSE ‘s “Share the Road” program envisions improving access and safety of horses on roads, which will benefit recreational riders and drivers, commercial carriage drivers, farmers who must use the roads to access their fields with their horses, and the public at large.
Horsepeople are finding it ever more difficult to access horse trails without utilizing roadways for at least part of the ride. Because equestrians are hesitant to use roadways to access them, such facilities are in danger of becoming lost through reclamation or lack of maintenance or use. In turn, the disuse of trails further discourages riders from venturing out onto the roads, thereby resulting in a reinforcing cycle that causes equestrian resources to recede in the face of development. Yet it is precisely in these developed areas that the majority of the population (who will decide how land and space is used) lives. As equestrians flee, the general population develops an “out of sight, out of mind” position relative to the horses.
By facilitating the presence of horses in developed areas (and on the road), we reconnect the public with horses. There is plenty of room for horses in our society—they have been with us always—but the long-term sustainability of equestrianism requires rethinking horses’ relationship to development to imagine an “urban renewal” of horses. Responsibly reintroducing horses to the roads and to developed areas builds community cooperation in conservation efforts and equestrian issues.
Our “Share the Road” program and events include educational events designed to improve access to roadways for equestrian use, emphasizing proper safety when riding or driving in traffic and choosing an appropriate travel route. Equestrians should feel empowered to use the public roads, but should do so in a way that is safe for everybody.
Massachusetts state law requires motorists to slow to 15 mph around horses, yet few people know this.